A Temporary Lesson

The Green Cup Challenge (GCC) competition between Andover and Deerfield Academy came to an end on Wednesday. Perhaps due to a combination of winter term apathy and a sheer lack of interest in the competition, Andover lost to Deerfield by a wide margin: 3.7 percent reduction in energy usage to Deerfield’s 7.8 percent.

Though both schools ultimately managed to reduce energy consumption, it is clear that Andover did not cut down its usage as much as it could have or should have. Through a concerted community effort, Deerfield reduced its energy usage by a significant margin. At Deerfield, a wide range of dorms made a meaningful impact on campus-wide reduction. The same could not be said for Andover.

It is disappointing that Andover did not approach the GCC with a similar cooperative spirit and interested attitude. Andover’s lethargic effort throughout the GCC shows that the community must make greater strides toward living “green.”

In principle, the GCC’s message does in fact reflect the modern school’s obligation to be eco-friendly. Intertwined with this month-long period of energy reduction are lessons of conservation and reminders that the Earth is in a state of environmental crisis. The GCC is further supposed to prove that conservation is necessary and feasible. Each of these messages should remain long after the GCC’s winner has been announced.

The idea of green living should be a natural mainstay of the Andover community. It should not be relegated to a month-long period during which students are excessively encouraged to turn off their lights and unplug their chargers, only for these lessons to melt into the background following the contest’s end. The competition promotes a transient approach when it should encourage permanent changes in behavior.

The reward system of the GCC further fuels erroneous interpretation of the contest’s message. The GCC implies that Andover should reduce its energy use only when it is a offered a prize–in this case, a special munch for the leading dorms and a year of glory for the victorious school. The competition suggests that, rather than striving to do its part in preventing climate change, Andover should pursue more energy-efficient practices in order to earn an empty, arbitrary title.

In that regard, using competition as a medium to teach energy-consciousness is fundamentally wrong. Andover should not need a competition or a contest to catalyze greener living.

The GCC should be a “fun” way to encourage the student body to invest itself in making a real reduction. If the competition does not engage the student body and no campus-wide effort ensues, what little justification exists for this contest disappears.

Despite the competition’s shortcomings, it is important to recognize that the GCC did push Andover to reduce its campus energy usage. To celebrate that reduction as a success, however, is naive. Before rejoicing, Andover must step outside the set of numbers on the Gunga Data computer screen and evaluate environmentalism in a context larger than the month-long window. Without that conscientious reflection, the GCC is meaningless.

This Editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXV.