Sustainable Sustainability

The Green Cup Challenge has swept across campus, inspiring drastic action in dorms. The friendly competition challenges each dorm to reduce its energy usage by the most percentage points. Many dorms have instituted a complete blackout, some going as far as to unscrew the light switches from the wall. Students have resorted to doing their homework entirely by sunlight, flashlight, or even by the lamplight along the paths. Some dorms have unofficially enacted a rule that students only charge their devices in the library or in other campus buildings.

The fervor inspired by the Green Cup Challenge to save energy in any way possible has certainly resulted in a dramatic drop in energy consumption in various dorms. Eaton Cottage and Samaritan House both reduced energy consumption by over 30 percent during the challenge, more than any other dorm in their respective clusters. The Green Cup Challenge has also brought the often trite topic of environmental protection back into everyday conversation as students track the rankings online.

But in the midst of all the excitement generated by the challenge, it is important to move towards sustainable change over drastic change. Although living without lights may be one of the easiest ways to conserve power, it simply is not realistic to consistently live in total darkness. And although charging devices in other buildings may technically make it seem that dorms are reducing their energy consumption, the same amount of energy is still being used regardless of the location of the outlet.

Sustainable change is moving beyond quick and drastic gimmicks in the name of results garnered in a short period of time. Sustainable change is paying attention to the little habits and permanently changing them, rather than just for the duration of a single challenge.

Focusing on more realistic goals such as unplugging chargers when not in use, turning off the lights, and taking shorter showers may not seem as glamorous, but they have the potential to have a bigger impact than radical measures that students are unable to replicate for the rest of the year. It may seem almost counterintuitive, but enacting lasting change can be more effective than enacting extreme change.

The Green Cup Challenge is an opportunity for students to reflect on their environmental footprint. This footprint still exists beyond the four weeks of the Green Cup Challenge, and it is now up to us to think of how we can enact lasting change. Achieving change through sensible actions rather than self imposed power outages will be the most effective antidote for the environment in the long run.

This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian, vol CXLI.