I don’t care about the environment.
I know how that sounds — like I’m an uneducated selfish snot who takes the Earth for granted and who will probably soon feel the wrath of karma in the form of a tree falling on top of me. But I can’t help it. As much as I want to care about “going green,” the fact is that it is going to be tough to reverse all the damage that we have done to this planet. We can’t turn back time: We won’t be able to take back all the soot in the air, seal up the hole in the ozone layer or even come close to rebuilding the rainforests we’ve destroyed. In fact, 35 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions is largely beyond consumer control, so it’s out of our hands. Plus, environmentalists are seriously annoying.
In spite of my dislike of all things tree-hugging, I will admit that Green Cup is a valiant effort and I’m glad the university is supporting such an endeavor. The world is broken enough as is; there’s no need for us to go around messing it up even further. However, I question the efficacy of this competition; if we’re going to paint the town green for only six weeks, is it even worth the effort? Will six weeks of me turning off the lights in my hallway help me preserve the planet once I ditch Evanston for the real world? I know that my not showering for three days doesn’t help me form any particularly good (or hygienic) habits.
These minuscule changes are short-term solutions for a long-term problem. We can turn off the lights in the hallway all we want, but we’d be hypocritical if we didn’t take it a step further. There are so many other things that we as students do that absolutely devastate the environment, things that don’t fall under Green Cup’s scope. For example, some of us drive our cars across the country to have them on campus. What’s the point of that? The little changes that Green Cup inspires aren’t enough to carry with us post-graduation, let alone make a dent in our damaged Northwestern-bubble of a world.
But I do have a suggestion. Instead, let’s stretch this competition out. I know it takes a lot of planning to put on such an event, but if instead we turn Green Cup into Green Northwestern, we’ll make “going green” a conscious decision of both students and faculty. If the idea of living a green lifestyle is constantly present on campus, then we might actually do some good both for ourselves and for the real world once we get there.
How about all those course supplements or the hardback textbooks that can’t be recycled? Let’s do something about the seemingly millions of flyers we tape to the ground that end up in the trash or as playthings for squirrels. In fact, just using the revolving door at Norris will save more energy then using the doors to either side.
Let’s expand the Green Cup to beyond the dorms and dining halls and into the academic buildings where vending machines and projectors are left plugged in all hours of the day, sucking out “vampire power.” Push the environmentally friendly effort into Norris, where the bulletin boards are littered with flyers when a small distance away are giant televisions that could be just as effective for advertising without killing all those trees and wasting the energy it costs to print on paper. Get all the hippies together and lobby the administration to consider “Green Buses” to replace the current rickety shuttles.
You know it’s bad when a die-hard tree-hater like myself thinks the Green Cup isn’t enough. I appreciate SEED’s effort, but there is so much more we can do. The Green Cup has the potential to be the impetus for a campus-wide Green movement, one that could cultivate students who leave this school with, if not a passion for the environment, then at least with habits that don’t destroy it. We won’t be able to fix everything, but we don’t have to screw things up anymore then they already are. The Green Cup is just a six-week competition, but saving the world shouldn’t be.