Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Earthlust, Swarthmore’s environmental group, is combining forces with Bryn Mawr Greenies and Haverford Earthquakers in a new event called Tri-Co Energy Competition. The event aims to motivate students to actively reduce their energy consumption by competing with our neighbors. The benchmark will be to decrease energy consumed in February by the dorms of each college, compared to the college dorms’ consumption in November. To measure our success, Earthlust will keep a barometer of our energy consumption in Sharples. Earthlust’s kick-off party at Olde Club will launch the “green” month on Friday, February 1. The winner will receive a cash prize donated by the Facilities of each college.
Bryn Mawr instigated the concept of the energy competition, having hosted a similar competition within their dorms last year. Emily Walden, a coordinator from BM, became inspired by a testimonial in the New York Times about going on an energy diet. BM Greenies subsequently initiated an event challenging each dorm to reduce their energy consumption in February by 5% of their November consumption. “We thought having some competition would spur people to actually participate,” she said.
Throughout the month, the Greenies hosted several events offering creative ideas to live “green,” like giving out free smoothies made by a solar-powered blender and placing note cards in places you wouldn’t normally think you could save energy.” On average, each dorm reduced consumption by 9%, rendering the event successful.
The Tri-Co competition follows similar rules, comparing February’s consumption levels to November’s, but does not offer a reduction target. Coordinators chose dorms to represent each college’s energy consumption to empower students to make energy decisions. February was chosen as the best indicator of consumption considering the high amounts of energy consumed (by heaters, lights staying on longer, etc) and the best parallel to November.
The ultimate goal of the competition is to change the mentality of energy consumption. “Think about where energy is coming from, like the resources that are being used,” said Kavita Hardy ‘08, a member of Earthlust. “A shift in thinking is the biggest change we can make.” By consciously reducing the energy diet, students will hopefully internalize sustainable energy-reducing habits and motivate their peers as a multiplier effect. Earthlust also hopes to send a signal to the administration by mobilizing the students. “We want to send a strong message to administration that students are involved, want to be willing to help,” said Jen Crick ‘11, another Earthlust member. Less seriously, the competition gives a fun opportunity for some Tri-Co rivalry.
Bryn Mawr will be a tough competitor since the winning dorm last year reduced energy consumption by 26%. Swarthmore students are on par with some good habits, conceded Hardy, but there are a few hidden tricks. “Unplug [turned-off] computers because they sap energy through adapters. Fridges also use a lot of energy and in doubles, you only need 1 fridge,” She advised.
Start unplugging those lights, adapters and even fridges (if you’re brave enough), for one wild “green” party.