Lights may be off around campus, but it’s not another power outage. Dorms have been turning off their lights to save energy as part of Green Cup, a competition between residence halls to save energy and water. Since Jan. 20, dorms have been competing to be the most environmentally-conscious residence hall.
Weinberg sophomore Laura Oser, who lives in 1835 Hinman, is a member of Environmental Campus Outreach, which started environmental firesides last year. In addition to blackout hours, 1835 Hinman is hosting an environmental fireside next Wednesday, combined with “sustainable munchies.”
Oser said that since she already takes the environment into consideration every day by washing her clothes in cold water and being careful to turn off her lights whenever she leaves her dorm.
“I don’t really do much differently than I would normally,” Oser said, though she added she intends to take out her trash less often.
Samantha Booth also lives in 1835 Hinman, and has been trying to recycle more and use less water. But the Medill freshman said she isn’t entirely informed about Green Cup.
“If the dorm got more involved, it could work a little better,” she said. According to Booth, 1835 Hinman often keeps the heat up too high in the winter, and students end up opening their windows.
“One of the problems is publicity,” said Communication sophomore Elisa Redish, co-chair of Green Cup along with Weinberg junior Laura Christian. “We don’t want to do any not environmentally-cool things.”
Green Cup is listed on the screens in Norris, but Christian and Redish have tried to keep flyering to a minimum.
Willard Vice President Dylan Lewis said he thinks some flyering is necessary to inform students.
“Flyering might not be that environmentally-friendly, but we need something in hard copy. Maybe one big poster in the common room,” the Communication sophomore said.
As vice president, he and other dorm executives turn off lights in the building in the evening to save energy. Additionally, Willard’s dining hall is one of the few that’s completely “tray-less” to save water; trays are only available upon request.
“I’ve been pretty happy,” Lewis said of Green Cup. “I’ve seen our residents do lots of small things.”
But not everyone in Willard has eagerly responded to Green Cup. Besides publicity, some students see time as an obstacle
“I’ve just been really busy lately, so I can’t even think about it,” Communication freshman Jeremiah Fassler said. A Willard resident, Fassler said he has been trying to cut down on shower time.
SESP senior Sam Schiller lives off-campus, but still tries to keep his energy impact low. Schiller said he was inspired to be more eco-conscious after watching the documentary The End of Suburbia in his sophomore Environmental Anthropology class. He keeps his thermostat low in the winter, tries to eat less red meat and more vegetables, and bikes everywhere possible.
“There’s a tangible effect to every decision,” Schiller said.
Christian and Redish agreed, offering the following tips to those who want to save energy, both during the Green Cup and beyond:
- Before you leave your room, turn off all the lights. Replace your current light bulbs with energy-saving ones.
- Use laptop computers instead of desktop computers. Laptop computers with smaller monitor use less energy.
- Instead of using screensavers, change your computer settings so that your computer goes to “sleep” when not in use.
- Take shorter showers to save water. Cold showers use less energy than hot ones.
- Only do full loads of laundry and wash in cold water. Save energy by air-drying your clothing rather than using the dryer.
- Items that are plugged into the wall can still use energy even when not in use. Unplug your laptop and cell phones once they’re done charging.
While Redish doesn’t expect all of the energy enthusiasm generated by Green Cup to last past March 3, she does hope students will at least be more informed.
“I do feel like Green Cup raises an awareness of things they can do.”