VIU is setting an environmentally friendly fashion statement this Feb. Now into its third year, VIU’s “Ugly Sweater Week” will run from Feb. 4 through 8 on the Nanaimo campus. Everyone is encouraged to sport their ugliest, zaniest, and above all warmest sweaters as the University turns the heat down by two degrees.

According to VIU’s Office of Environment and Sustainability website, 56 percent of all the energy the institution uses goes towards heating. “It’s really important to take some responsibility for your own environment and if you’re cold put on a sweater and stay warm,” says Margot Croft, administrative assistant of VIU’s Office of Environment and Sustainability. “You do have control and you don’t always have to use power.”

She adds that by participating in Ugly Sweater Week, one can help raise awareness about energy conservation as well as show their individual support to help VIU to become a more sustainable institution. “It helps contribute towards a culture of conservation to which we are working towards here at VIU,” Croft says. “Wearing an ugly sweater really helps you show that you are part of the culture of conservation and sustainability at VIU as well as other areas of your life.”

Croft says that some lucky participants will receive prizes for their ugly sweaters. She notes that past prizes have included bookstore and off-campus gift cards. Voting for the Peoples’ Choice Awards will begin Feb 5. Croft adds that there has been some “fierce” competition in the past including Caitlin Olesen, a Psychology Major who came first in both categories for her colourful cat sweater and Fran Benton, a retired VIU Visual Art Professor, who placed third in the Judges’ choice category. Benton adorned her sweater with hand-sewn embellishments, fringe, and a pair of fuzzy gloves protruding from the shoulders. The upcycled sweater now resides in the Office of Environment and Sustainability.

Croft says that there will be multiple photo-ops across campus for students to have their picture taken for the competition. There will also be an option for students, staff, and faculty from other VIU campuses to electronically submit their own photos to the judges at <>. Electronic submissions will be accepted until Feb. 17 and the Ugly Sweater Week winners will be announced Feb. 21.

Ugly Sweater Week at VIU is being held in conjunction with the World Wild Life Federation Canada’s National Sweater Day on Feb. 7. On their website, WWF claims that: “If every Canadian lowered the heat by just 2º C this winter, it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four megatons.” Since 2009, the World Wildlife Foundation and Loblaws have been working together to encourage Canadians to reduce their personal carbon footprint and become aware of their environmental actions. National Sweater Day is supported through partial proceeds of Loblaw’s Charge-for-Plastic-Bags program.

For more information on Ugly Sweater Week visit <>.