PA Reflects on Sustainability

While a trayless Uncommons has significantly reduced the amount of food waste, some members of the PA community are less than pleased. With the Green Cup Challenge entering its second week, environmentally friendly policies such as separating food in Uncommons are cropping up around campus. Chase Potter ’09 is unhappy about the changes in Uncommons. “I think [going trayless] is ridiculous. We can find other ways to save energy,” said Potter. “Commons is one of the few places we can go to relax, and now it makes me feel guilty about taking a tray.” Potter said that he found sustainability difficult to assess because the effects of not being sustainable are not readily visible. Julian Danziger ’11 said, “I think it’s unnecessarily inconvenient for students to have to put their things away and go trayless. It doesn’t have to be so hard [to be sustainable], but it is.” Some faculty members have also found the changes inconvenient. “I’m annoyed that I can’t use trays anymore. One plate of food is not enough for me. But I do understand that it’s more beneficial for the environment,” said Jacqueline Latina, Teaching Fellow in Chemistry. John Rogers, Dean of Studies and Advisor to the Head of School for Sustainability, said he proposed the idea of trayless dining. Rogers wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “This summer, I recommended to the Senior Administrative Council that we consider a policy of trayless dining.  Discussions about that recommendation continued during the fall until we had heard about and thought about the many different aspects of this change. Then we decided to adopt the trayless policy.” “For some people, [going trayless] is an easy adjustment but for others it is quite difficult,” Rogers continued. “I think people are willing to change habits if they believe that it is part of a larger effort that will truly make a difference.  I think people do not like to be inconvenienced if they think it is just for the sake of appearances.” Though trayless dining is the most apparent change, PA has been working to improve sustainability in other areas. Stephen Carter, Chief Financial and Operations Officer, said, “The awareness of [sustainability] has been picking up. A lot of things we’ve done were not noticed until now.” For example, Phillips Academy recently installed new steamlines around campus, according to Carter. As a result, the steam used to heat buildings returns to the Office of Physical Plant at a higher temperature, so Andover does not use as much energy to reheat the steam. Nan and Gerry Snyder ’53 recently donated $25,000 to PA to support sustainability efforts on campus. Rogers, Russell, Carter and the rest of the Sustainable Steering Committee at Andover sent an email to the PA community at the end of fall term asking for ideas on how to spend the money. Rogers wrote, “We received more than two dozen good ideas and are currently estimating costs and benefits for them and then choosing the ones we will implement.” This year, Andover and Exeter are competing head-to-head in the Green Cup Challenge. Latina said, “I think competition always helps motivate students to get involved, and we want to beat Exeter.” Alec Weiss ’11 said that because he does not care about beating Exeter, he thinks the challnge should involve better rewards. Some students have also taken measures to spike their energy usage before the GCC, with the hope that there will be a greater percentage decrease from the baseline period. Wesley Meyer ’11 said, “Before Green Cup, many people joke about taking the elevator every day to raise the energy levels.” Carter believes that Andover beats Exeter on the sustainability front. “Exeter’s done a lot of talking about [sustainability], but I think we’re doing more about it,” he said. “We have a more modern power plant. We burn natural gas; they burn oil. We’re much more energy efficient,” he said. Teruyo Shimazu, Instructor in Japanese and a house counselor in Paul Revere Hall, said that she observed dorm residents make posters to dissuade people from using the elevators. “The girls have definitely made a conscious effort [to conserve energy],” Shimazu said. But Latina, also a house counselor in Paul Revere, said, “I haven’t noticed [a change in energy consumption]. I think people are always pretty energy conscious in this dorm.” Courtney Macdonald ’11 said, “[In Day Hall], our lights are off all the time, and our proctors put up signs to remind us to turn them off.” She added, “For the first time, when I’m done eating and there’s food on my plate, I’m like ‘I can finish this.’ I get really emotional [about the ort]. I see the food and I wonder, ‘What could we do with all this food? With all this money? What are we doing?’” But Weiss, a day student, said that the Green Cup Challenge hasn’t greatly affected his energy usage at home. Weiss said, “As a day student, it’s not so much of an issue for me. Does [the GCC] inspire me to turn my lights off at home? No. Do I scrape my food into the bins? Absolutely.” Some students offered advice on how the school can approach sustainability. Graham Miao ’09 said, “I think [the school’s] approach [to sustainability] might be wrong. A lot of people are upset with [no more] trays. I’m okay with it, but I understand that some people need them. I don’t think it’s a good choice overall.” Katie Hess ’11 said, “I feel like people address sustainability and understand the concept, but don’t carry out the action. I’m not going to lie. Sometimes, if I have a water bottle, I throw it out. Students are lazy, but we should be self-governing.” Rogers wrote, “Overall, I think people care about these issues a lot, but we are all used to doing things in certain ways, and changing how we do things is not usually easy.”