UI environmental leaders skeptical of Coca-Cola's polar bear campaign


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Some environmental activists and sustainability advocates at the University of Iowa are skeptical about Coca-Cola's new Arctic Home campaign.

The Arctic Home campaign is a partnership between Coca-Cola and the World Wildlife Fund advocating for the protection of the polar bear's Arctic home; the companies ask people to text $1 donations to World Wildlife Fund. The project has garnered more than $42,500 worldwide since its Nov. 1 start.

Though Kelsey Zlevor, the University of Iowa Student Government sustainability advocate, hadn't heard about the campaign, she said students should be informed of where their money goes.

"It's not ever a bad thing to put your money toward something like that," she said. "I'd like to think that [Coca-Cola and World Wildlife Fund] are doing this campaign for the right reasons."

Giselle Bruskewitz, a copresident of the UI Environmental Coalition, didn't know about the campaign either but said promoting awareness is always commendable.

"Education and awareness is a big obstacle when you talk about anything," she said. "When talking about a larger issue like this, awareness is always the first step. I would definitely say that's a positive aspect of the campaign."

UI seniors TJ Parris and Adrian Slade, the Coca-Cola campus representatives, said they promote the Arctic Home campaign on campus primarily by encouraging students to text donations to the World Wildlife Fund.

"Our goal as ambassadors is to draw as much attention to the project," Slade said. "I'd like to blow it up as much as I can and draw as much student awareness. It's something that everyone can be a part of. It doesn't require a big commitment on the student's part, and it's easy to get involved."

Parris said texting is the easiest way for students to donate and get involved.

"[Texting] is a really simple process," he said. "We want to encourage students through different sorts of campaigns and competitions to donate to the Arctic Home campaign."

There will be winter-theme activities and competitions over the next few weeks encouraging students to join the cause, Parris said. The Coca-Cola representatives will also give away polar bear T-shirts, beanies, and free white Coke cans.

Parris and Slade will promote the Arctic Home campaign in several places around campus, including Burge, Hillcrest, the IMU, Pappajohn Business Building, and T. Anne Cleary Walkway.

"We're trying to hit the main arteries of student life to get as much attention as we can," Slade said. "Students will be able to check out the products and donate."

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