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A snapshot of Northwestern’s

environmental movement
The rest of the world may be digging in its heels,
but Northwestern University is racing to go green.
The Green Cup, an an- ability coordinator position
nual campus-wide event in into the Northwestern ad-
By the Numbers
which students try to reduce ministration. This coordina-
their electricity and water tor would work to unite the
1,500 tons of materials
recycled at Northwestern
usage, ended on March 4. various sustainability initia-
The six-week-long competi- tives across Northwestern each year
tion pits dorms and Greek and promote a more orga-
houses against each other nized approach to campus 26 percent of campus
to reduce their environmen- environmentalism. “We’ve waste recycled
tal footprints. A student been advocating for this for
group called Students for almost a year,” Redish says. 1,700 students enroll-
Ecological and Environmen- Redish expressed ing in social science and
tal Development (SEED) confidence that the North- humanities courses on envi-
organized the Green Cup, western administration will ronmentalism each year, an
which is now in its fifth year. soon establish this new po- increase of 100% over the
“We hope to raise sition. The group has had past few years
awareness of environmen- many other successes re-
talism,” says SEED co-chair cently, such as influencing 70 percent reduction of
Elisa Redish, 20, of Highland the student government water consumption by the
Park. The group is working to pass an outdoor recy- GREEN House to win the
to introduce a new sustain- cling bill in 2007. The fol- 2008 Green Cup

1,500 pounds of ink

cartridges and batteries re-
cycled by ECO over the past
year and a half

100 percent recycled

material used in napkins
and plastic bags at North-
western’s dining halls

2,128 freshmen at
Northwestern, each of
whom received a free copy
of Thomas Friedman’s


20 percent of Northwest-
ern’s energy use offset by
Students promote the 2009 Green Cup and hand out free energy- renewable energy credits,
efficient lightbulbs. Photo credit: Green Cup 2010 Facebook page making NU the second larg-
est buyer of such credits
lowing year, SEED devel- ment. “It’s more [about] plastic sheets over win-
oped a proposal for a new the community,” Ruge says. dows to cut down on heat
environmentalism-focused loss. They also use “grey
dorm--the GREEN House. Two blocks west of water,” which means that
Northwestern’s campus they collect shower water in
No dorm takes Green lies a small, tight-knit com- a bucket and use it to flush
Cup more seriously than munity that doesn’t par- toilets, saving gallons each
the GREEN House (“GREEN” ticipate in the Green Cup time. MOSAIC residents
stands for “Group Residence but still incorporates sus- cook vegetarian and vegan
for Environmental Engage- tainability into daily life. meals and try to buy local-
ment at Northwestern”). Members of Society ly-grown, organic produce.
Several nights a week dur- Acting in Cooperation (MO- Christine Dumoulin,
ing the competition, 27, of Clifton Park, NY,
the dorm’s leadership is a graduate student
enforced hours during in Northwestern’s
which residents may plant biology and con-
not turn on their lights. servation program
GREEN House and helps the co-op
co-president Nick with sustainability ini-
Ruge reflects on this tiatives. MOSAIC resi-
year’s Green Cup with dents share chores
a laugh. “The funniest like cooking, cleaning,
thing I saw was [a res- and shopping, and Du-
ident] walking around moulin uses her chore
with a headlamp time to research how
on her head,” says to lessen the co-op’s
Ruge, 19, of Hinsdale. environmental impact.
The building One of Dumoulin’s
opened in the fall of projects was mak-
2008 as a themed ing cloth badges that
dorm for students who remind residents to
want to live an envi- conserve electric-
ronmentally friendly ity and putting them
lifestyle. The following on the walls next to
winter, GREEN House light switches. The
won the Green Cup Patch made by MOSAIC residents to promote badges feature an
category for dorms conservation of electricity. Photo credit: author angry-looking car-
without dining halls. toon light bulb saying,
This year, it won again. SAIC) is a housing coopera- “Turn me off. I eat coal.”
Since the dorm is lo- tive for Northwestern stu- “People were leaving
cated in an older building dents--undergraduate and the lights on all the time, so it
that wasn’t built for that graduate--and young profes- [was] time for some terrify-
purpose, the emphasis of sionals. Located in a sprawl- ing propaganda,” she jokes.
GREEN House is not on en- ing three-story house, the co-
vironmental facilities. In- op welcomes young people For some students,
stead, the residents use who want to do small things religion can be an inspira-
clotheslines, compost bins, to help the environment. tion to go green. Environ-
and shower timers to reduce For instance, during mental Campus Outreach
their impact on the environ- the winter, residents put (ECO), which runs out of
Northwestern’s Fiedler Hil- It’s not just students Cahillane, like many
lel Center, fuses Judaism who are passionate about others involved in campus
and environmentalism. environmentalism. Ju- environmentalism, is op-
“A Jewish upbringing lie Cahillane, Manager of timistic. “There’s a huge
contributed a great amount Recycling and Refuse at surge in interest in those is-
to my environmental aware- Northwestern’s Facilities sues across campus,” she
ness,” says ECO president Management, works to im- says. “You can’t get through
Benjamin Singer, 22, of St. prove the uni- a day with-
Louis. He cites several Jew- versity’s recy-
Students and out hearing
ish laws and stories that
promote compassion to-
cling record.
“We’re always
staff recycle something
about cli-
wards nature. In one sto- working to in- 1,500 tons of mate change
ry, a boy sees an old man crease the and the en-
planting a tree and asks him volume that
paper, plastic, v i ro n m e n t . ”
why he’s doing it when he’ll
probably die before the tree
we’re collect-
ing,” she says.
glass, aluminum, T h a t ’ s
good news for
bears any fruit. The man Thanks cardboard, ink Northwest-
answers, “As my grandpar- in part to ern’s many
ents planted for me, so I will the recycling
cartridges, and environmen-
plant for my grandchildren.”
Drawing from these
bins located
in dorms and
even computer tal
traditions, ECO works to buildings all equipment each see increases
develop and implement over cam- in budgets,
initiatives that will ben- pus, students
year. membership,
efit future generations of and staff re- and influence
Northwestern students. The cycle 1,500 as interest
group sponsors grants for tons of paper, plastic, glass, rises. With a sustainability
other environmental stu- aluminum, cardboard, ink coordinator position in the
dent groups, offers fire- cartridges, and even com- works, this green move-
sides during Green Cup, puter equipment each year. ment may soon become
and works to make the Hillel “Food waste is the next fron- more coordinated and ef-
building more sustainable. tier for us,” Cahillane says. fective than ever before.

What can you do? A few tips for going green

• Turn off the lights. That may seem like a lightbulbs). These light bulbs use 75 per-
no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget to flip the cent less energy than regular incandescent
switch when you leave the room. light bulbs, and they last 10 times longer.
• Take shorter showers. Putting a timer in • Use EcoFont. This font needs up to 25
the shower can help. percent less ink than regular fonts because
• Buy locally-grown produce. Shipping food it puts tiny holes into each letter. It was
for long distances wastes a lot of fuel. used in this article. Download it at ecofont.
• Recycle. Check local guidelines to see com.
what kinds of materials can be recycled. • Turn the thermostat down (or up). Using
• Don’t buy bottled water. Refill a water less heating or air conditioning saves lots
bottle with tap water instead. of energy.
• Consider composting your food scraps. • Stay informed. Uninformed and apathetic
Compost makes great soil for a gardening citizens are the biggest problem environ-
project, and it reduces waste. mentalism faces.
• Switch to CFLs (compact fluorescent

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