Aren’t College Kids Supposed to Be Irresponsible?

Yesterday’s NYT featured a story on how college students are studying sustainability, and living it, too. At Oberlin College, some kids have put together a “green dorm”, where the lights are off as much as possible, nobody runs a tv (they all have computers anyway, so I doubt they lack for the wide world of entertainment), and quick showers are a competitive sport. I had a great time in my school’s Russian House, but the behaviors we reinforced in each other there were not precisely…sustainable.

So read it, and ask yourself how you’d do living with a bunch of sustainability freaks.  I’m a sustainability freak living with a bunch of non-freak types, and trust me, it’s not as funny as The Odd Couple might have you believe.  The article has some pretty good hints as to how tense the housemate relationship can get, even among people who share similar values, and tips on how to deal with that.

I would find the shower sprints at Oberlin a challenge.  I bide my time in showers, and it’s one of my least sustainable habits.  They have a great motivational tool, though:

Besides the hourglass timer — Mr. Brown pointed out that it was called a shower coach and cost $3 online — the shower’s energy-saving motivational accessories include a picture of former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina plastered to the ceiling.

That was Ms. Bob-Waksberg’s idea. No one wants to linger in the shower with someone staring down from the ceiling, she said.

“You could also look at it another way,” she said, “that John Edwards is encouraging me to take a shorter shower.”

Why Mr. Edwards? “He had the strongest global warming policies of any of the candidates,” Mr. Brown said.

I’ll let you know whose picture I hang on my shower ceiling- and if it works.


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