Frontline: Western’s green entrepreneurs must bring home the gold - The Western Front: Opinion

Frontline: Western’s green entrepreneurs must bring home the gold

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Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014 9:01 am | Updated: 9:44 am, Fri Mar 7, 2014.

The world’s finest ideas and inventions all began as a single thought. But a brilliant idea is not successful on its own — it must be followed through to the end.

Western students have been offered a new chance to turn an idle thought into a reality, as long as that idea promotes sustainability. If your group’s idea trumps the rest, $10,000 and a bright future will be headed your way. We can change the world for the better — and those at Western can be a direct cause of it.

The NW Innovation Resource Center launched a competition on Tuesday, Feb. 18, to scour seven colleges in Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish counties to help kickstart new, green entrepreneurs. The goal is to find and fund the best sustainable business idea proposed by a group.

Two types of teams can enter — a group of three or more students or a group of three or more faculty, staff or alumni. The deadline for applications is Tuesday, April 1, entries must be submitted by Friday, May 9, and final judging is held a week later in Bellingham.

Western is home to plenty of accolades regarding its commitment to sustainability and green energy. While our school’s environmental attitude is no doubt admirable and impressive, our national ranking seems to be slipping.

In the past four years, Western has joined other higher education schools to be among the nation’s top 20 purchasers of green energy. But Western barely made the list at 19th last year, seven spots lower than in 2010.

Last year, in the Princeton Review’s analysis of the nation’s 322 greenest colleges, Western scored a 91 — five points lower than in 2012. Let’s reverse this trend.

A victory for Western in this hunt for green innovators could help our school continue to make a global difference in consumption and pollution.

Similar sustainability contests have been held and have yielded impressive results. A global contest was held in 2011 by Katerva, a sustainability organization, which lists the 50 finalists and their ideas.

One group of finalists, Ecovative, found a way to grow a replacement for Styrofoam and other plastics by using mushroom roots to bond plant materials together into a durable and decomposable resource, according to This goes to prove if you think far enough outside the box, it is possible to see your idea spring to life.

As an innovative university with so much invested in sustainable practices and education, those at Western should strive to maintain the school’s environmental edge. We must leap at this unique chance to become sustainable entrepreneurs.

We can’t let up in our push for a greener campus and more importantly, a greener world. Better ideas are still out there.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

— Mark Twain

This Editorial Board is comprised of Opinion Editor Bennett Hanson, Editor-in-Chief Allana Schwaab and Managing Editor Joshua Hart.

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