Daily Camera - August 15, 2009
Aided by youth leadership program, Boulder student persisted to bring project to fruition
By Erica Meltzer, Camera Staff Writer
Sara Goodman, a recent Boulder High graduate, designed napkins with tips for greener living to appeal to teenagers, found a local producer to print the napkins on recycled paper and convinced Boulder and Fairview high schools to use the napkins at the start of the school year. (Photo by Cliff Grassmick)
BOULDER, Colo. — Sara Goodman believes in the little things that make a difference.
The recent Boulder High graduate spent the last year working hard on a project that might seem like a little thing — placing napkins with environmental tips printed on material recycled from post-consumer waste in two area high schools. And the tips themselves focus on little steps anyone can take to have less impact on the environment, like turning down the heat in the winter or unplugging appliances when they aren’t in use.
The idea came out of a subcommittee on environmental issues at a retreat organized by the city’s Youth Opportunities Advisory Board. The group is made up of a representative cross-section of Boulder youth. They go on a retreat to discuss ways to address problems in the community — in this case lack of awareness around environmental issues.
The first idea was a concert, but that didn’t pan out. The napkins were plan B. Goodman got the idea from napkins that promote safe skiing.
But bringing the project to pass — from an idea in a workshop to boxes of napkins at Boulder and Fairview high schools — took persistence and patience.
Alice Swett, coordinator for the Youth Opportunities Advisory Board, said Goodman showed an unusual amount of initiative. To make the project happen, she had to deal with two bureaucracies — the city and the Boulder Valley School District — as well as private companies, make numerous follow-up phone calls and compromise on the final design and wording of the napkins.
Goodman wanted the napkins to appeal to teenagers, but the school district was worried about the wording of some of her tips. For example, in advising people to turn down their heat in the winter, she wrote that there are other ways to keep warm. The district asked her to add “like hot cocoa.”
And in looking for someone to print the napkins, Goodman found many large companies already use recycled materials in their napkins but don’t take small, customized orders, while many small companies that usually print wedding and birthday napkins don’t use recycled materials. She ended up going with Minuteman Press.
The order of 20,000 napkins cost $998.41 and was paid for by the youth advisory board, which is funded by sales tax.
Goodman said she persevered because she believes in the project’s message — that small, individual actions taken by hundreds and thousands of people can make a difference.
“Nobody is perfect and bikes everywhere and all that stuff,” she said. “These are really simple things. I just believe that if I’m unplugging my cell phone charger, then 1,000 other people are doing the same thing.”