The Kaschak Institute for Social Justice for Women and Girls recently launched the 1MReady campaign to encourage students to participate in climate action.

A coalition, including the Institute, Binghamton 2 Degrees, the Sustainable Communities program, the Office of Sustainability, the Center for Civic Engagement and the Binghamton University Common Read Experience, launched the initiative with 1 Million Women (1MW), an international organization that aims to encourage women to get involved in climate action by pledging to reduce their carbon emissions, to create the 1MReady campaign. The Institute will lead the launch of the campaign in the United States through student ambassadors and the “1 Million Women” app.

Lorena Aguilar, the Institute’s executive director, explained why the project was launched at BU.

“For four decades, I have worked with gender equality, human rights and inclusion,” Aguilar said. “Before this, I worked for the State Department as the main negotiator for Latin America at the climate change conventions, and I bought gender into it. After COVID-19, I had the need to transfer the knowledge I had worked on for four decades. I chose [BU] because of the social justice work they already had.”

According to the Institute’s proposal, they plan on implementing the campaign through three main themes — “electrifying, degasifying and decarbonizing” living and working conditions, educating women on using their economic power to cut carbon emissions and empowering women to build community and political relationships to become “climate champions.“

Andreas Pape, an associate professor of economics involved in the 1MReady campaign, explained how they plan to implement their project in the BU community.

“I would say we are currently seeking to hire students to serve as ambassadors for the 1MReady app,” Pape wrote in an email. “They will be trained to reach out and talk to students one-on-one and tell them how to use the app and why it is useful and the importance of individual action for climate change. We are bringing the director of 1MW, Natalie Isaacs, to Binghamton in early February to launch the app.”

To become a student ambassador, students are encouraged to send a letter of intent to the Institute. This will be followed by training to prepare them to engage with other students to inform them about the 1MW app. On the app, students can pledge to reduce their carbon footprint — the eventual goal is to expand beyond BU and to other communities.

Aguilar explained that she hopes BU will inspire other communities to adopt the 1MReady campaign, expanding to surrounding communities, other SUNY campuses and other universities in the United States.

Greg Martin, a senior majoring in history, shared the impact the campaign will have on the larger community.

“BU is a school that’s already known for taking the lead on environmental issues and being a ‘green’ school overall,” Martin said. “With this new launch, not only will our campus be synonymous with environmental friendliness, but so will the students.”

Michael Zeituny, a senior majoring in philosophy, politics and law raised concerns about the approach’s effectiveness.

“Pledging to go green isn’t the same as actually going green,” Zeituny said. “Also, mobile apps contribute to carbon emissions, so clicking ‘I do’ on a screen and not changing your carbon footprint is adding to more emissions. It’s still a great idea, but we have to do more than just pinky promising we won’t have wasteful habits.”