In Defense of Sustainability: Stop Whining

Sound the alarms,” they said. “The Green Cup Challenge is back with a vengeance.” “Not only is the excessively liberal administration pushing its corrupt sustainability agenda yet again, but now they’re making me get involved. Who has the right to order me, a privileged Phillips Academy student, to offend my own dignity and scrape my own plates? I have places to go, classes to attend and a growing number of teachers to kiss up to. I have my own agenda. Bowing down to the falsities of Global Warming is not part of it. And I really like my trays.” The Green Cup Challenge definitely isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t warrant the harsh attacks it has received. True, to really “win the competition,” a school gains an advantage by raising consumption throughout the year to establish low standards of improvement during the month of February. True, technological improvements, such as the Addison Gallery’s plans to construct a green roof, trump turning off lights in terms of energy saved. As raised by Commentary writers in past weeks, the GCC doesn’t save the school any significant amount of money. In fact, some school actions such as distributing compact fluorescent light bulbs actually cost money. Thank you for helping me understand that purchasing goods costs money, which is green, is probably the same thing as the environmental movement, which is also green. Without being facetious, I’d like explain to you the true value of the GCC. The event is not about the amount of money it saves the school but about bringing awareness to the Phillips Academy community. The questions of inconvenience in a sustainable lifestyle in regards to moral responsibility to the earth are not issues of whether or not trays are logistically the best method of transporting ten glasses of Gatorade. Rather, they address concerns about how we are willing to live our lives. Should we honor our integrity and obligation to the community or shirk individual responsibility to assert that Global Warming is only liberal propaganda? The GCC’s sponsorship of going trayless in Uncommons or suggesting students to turn off their lights and take shorter showers is a provocation to take action. It is a dare to students to actively consider the way we live our lives and further sustainable living as a habit, not as a begrudged chore. Despite increased efforts from the administration and Student Activities Board, the GCC never took off this year. It was ostracized from students’ other daily concerns. Although some commentary writers have asserted that “sustainability” is far too much on everybody’s tongues here at Phillips Academy, we all know that you have a plug-in lotion heater to keep your moisturizer warm. Next year—now even—quit ranting and just turn off your lights. Kim Kuoch is a four-year Senior from Berwyn, Pennsylvania and Co-Head of Eco-Action.