CSU, Chico News

‘The Cause’ Wins Jack Rawlins Environmental Prize

Date: 01-31-2008

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

A student group that lives and works together to promote sustainable lifestyles received the $6,000 Jack Rawlins 2007 Environmental Prize.

Max Kee is a co-founder of the group that lives together in a house on West 4th Ave. in Chico, where they are striving to live a sustainable lifestyle and educate others in the process. Their efforts include growing a backyard garden, building a greenhouse where they produce starter plants for others, composting their vegetable food scraps, and adapting recycled materials for gardening, furniture and art.

The group works to reduce waste by buying foods in bulk, filling old containers with fresh food from Chico Natural Foods, and using reusable Chico-Bags exclusively. They are conscious consumers who consider packaging, materials, and how far a product is shipped as part of their purchasing decisions.

They installed a high-efficiency wood-burning stove fueled by almond trees displaced by development and wood they divert from the dump. The stove heats their home, provides a cooking surface and a gathering spot. In warm weather, they dry clothes on the line.

The group uses bicycles for transportation, whenever possible. They find old bicycles for people who would ride them if they had them and are looking for a bicycle mechanic who can help salvage even more old bikes to give away.

The students’ mission is to share their low-impact lifestyle with others, spreading the word about how a sustainable lifestyle is both necessary and possible. They have established a Web site, www.be-the-cause.org, that provides information on steps they have taken to become more sustainable. Their philosophy is, “If we want to change the world, we must change ourselves.”

The Cause is having a work day this Saturday for Each One Teach One, a student-run nonprofit organization whose main objective is to raise money to send students to sustainability/leadership conferences. If you would like more information about this workshop, you can call Kee at 707-318-4998.

“It’s been interesting to realize that the more we try to create our place here in Chico, the more we end up out of town at conferences,” said Kee. “We are moving into a time, however, where we will be reaching out to the community more and doing more educational activities.”