A university class swapped meat for bugs and cars for bikes for 30 days in a bid to be more sustainable.
Dr Darren Clarke asked his students studying the BA in Climate and Environmental Sustainability in DCU to take on one challenge for 30 days that will contribute positively to the climate emergency.
The challenge ends ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) on October 30 - and students have created blogs to document how they’ve been getting on.
One student got particularly creative and decided to incorporate bugs into his diet, as it is a more sustainable way to consume protein in comparison to animal meat.
He created recipes and wrote blog posts called ‘baking with bugs’, ‘crepe a la cricket’ and ‘superworm stir-fry’.
The DCU student said eating superworms (which are like mealworms but bigger) was “pretty satisfying” and that they taste like “insect crisps” after they’ve been grilled.
Other students took on challenges such as quitting fast fashion, only eating vegetarian/vegan food, or walking or cycling to college instead of driving or using public transport.
Dr Clarke said the challenge is important as not only will students contribute positively to the climate emergency, but that talking about it to friends and family will have a “ripple” effect.
“When you take on a challenge like giving up meat or eating insects, you start to see the opportunities that arise and a lot of students in their blog said that their own challenge is influencing others,” he explained.
“Every three or four days we had them answer- ‘So, what has happened this week? Have you had conversations with other people, and what impact has that had?’
“Subsequently, they have had family, friends and other people take on the challenge. So that’s what we are trying to get the students to realise, is that their own actions can have bigger consequences.”
The lecturer said the 30-day challenge has also taught students about the societal barriers that make more-sustainable choices difficult, such as reducing plastic.
“For example, loads of people tried to reduce their plastic and they found it difficult because plastic is absolutely everywhere,” he said.
“So, we got them to think about that and why systems and things are set up the way they are that prevent them from reducing their plastic.
“So, starting small but in a tangible way they take it on and they start to see the bigger picture of what they’re trying to do.”
The history and geography lecturer also took on the challenge himself, and as he already eats a vegan diet he decided to pick up rubbish in his neighbourhood for 30 minutes twice a week.
He said he asked students to pick their own challenge, as he wanted it to be something they could keep up for the full 30 days.
Dr Clarke added that if people make small and manageable changes to their lifestyle, that big and positive impacts can be made.
"These things do actually have an impact,” he said. “And this challenge has an impact, not just for the students, it’s a 30-day challenge but the majority of the 26 students said they will keep it on in some shape or form.
“They might not commit to eating insects, but some will certainly change part of their diet to being vegetarian or vegan, or some by reducing plastic.
"Some students also said after the first two weeks they found it relatively easy because their families are on board now, so they have that support system making it easier for them to keep it on.”