For being something so many students like to joke about, there are many who are taking it very seriously.
In fact, seriously enough that individuals and entire wings are chipping in to help the efforts of ConServe, an annual campus-wide project in effort to lessen the campus’ carbon footprint. Lasting from Feb. 15 to April 15, ConServe may seem like a large undertaking, but as senior Wes Garcia stated, “ConServe was never about making a drastic life change, but about doing small things that, when done en masse, can have a huge effect on our campus.”
For students who are participating, they’ve found new patterns that are easy to adopt. “I used to forget to turn my light off, but I don’t do that very much now,” sophomore Elisa Banninga said. Besides shutting off the lights, she has been taking shorter showers. However, Banninga also sees mealtime as a time to ConServe, though it doesn’t directly relate to energy usage. She has also begun only taking as much food in the caf as she knows she can eat, and so far “it has been going well.”
Freshman Lane Sheikoski is also very actively making choices to ConServe. He said that though “it might not all save Northwestern money, it helps the environment,” and therefore he finds it very worthwhile. His tip for the campus community is to remember the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle. Some ways in which he is doing so include only driving when it’s absolutely necessary and using CFL or fluorescent light bulbs. He also says that he’s been washing clothes less often. He recommends that you can simply wash your clothes in bigger loads to ConServe instead of wearing the same stuff over and over because “that’d be gross.”
Even RAs and their wings are getting involved in the effort to ConServe. Senior RA Heather McCollam and the rest of 3rd north Fern are also doing lights out around 9 p.m., besides turning the bathroom lights off when not in use. Occasionally doing midnight rounds with a flash light, she said the dark hallways create some humorous moments as “you never know who is walking towards you.”
Though halls have few or no windows, Wes Garcia suggests opening blinds to make use of natural light in the rooms. For Garcia who says he often strives for good stewardship habits, ConServe is the perfect opportunity, however he admits that “being in a college setting makes it hard to ‘slip into greener habits,’ because it’s too easy to simply forget and become apathetic.”
While ConServe is “100 percent intentional,” Garcia said the problem is not developing new habits. Instead, the constant challenge comes with living in large dorms where others may not feel or participate like you. “It’s difficult to see that your efforts actually matter,” he said. Garcia’s most amusing tip, however, is to memorize a five-minute song to sing in your head as you shower.
When the song is through, you’ll know it’s time to finish. “You’ll soon adapt to parts of the song being representative of stages of your shower,” he said.
So sing a song to time your shower, flip a light off, open your blinds, unplug your electronics, or use fewer dishes. It doesn’t have to be drastic, but it really should be “en masse.”