The student summit session commenced with a keynote speech given by Olympic medalist Gretchen Bleiler. As a professional snowboarder, Bleiler emphasized her first-hand experience with climate change on the slopes. Some of the locations she's observed that have blatantly been affected are Bariloche, Argentina and Santiago, Chile. Typically some of Bleiler's ideal places to shred some powder, the mountains in these regions are often too barren now to board down.
At the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, snowboarders from around the world faced a similar problem. According to Bleiler, a combination of incessant raining, warmer than usual temperatures, and thus an inadequate amount of snow cut their five days of practice down to one.
Even though the hindering of a winter sport may not seem critical in the big scheme of life, it is only one example of how climate change is affecting people. To help stave off any further affects of climate change, Bleiler led the room full of 500+ students from around the country in a pact to follow the 21 Days of Reusables Challenge. Closing the speech in a momentous way, we agreed in unison to boycott the use of plastic disposable water bottles, the use of plastic shopping bags, and the use of Styrofoam to-go food containers for the average amount of time it takes one to form a habit--21 days.
- Joy Larson