I was walking around one of the freshmen dormitories when I came across an intriguing awareness message randomly scattered throughout the dormitory by our beloved EcoReps.

Disregarding the biological, and perhaps even philosophical, differences between human beings and common household appliances, this awareness message is simply a poor attempt to try to educate students on environmental sustainability.

How much energy is ‘wasted’ when the lights are left on? Water? Heat? If only a few units of energy are ‘wasted’ by leaving appliances on, then maybe you yourself actually wouldn’t mind being left on too. Maybe you gain a sense of joy or pleasure by being left on by someone else without ‘wasting’ too much energy! Because the EcoReps seem to be incapable of providing simple statistics to students, I intend on providing some of them to you.

According to Karen Datko from “MSN,” the average American pays $0.10 per kilowatt-hour for electricity; the typical American household uses approximately 908 kWh per month on electricity, which adds up to approximately $1,089.60 per year on electricity.

Initially, this may seem like a significant annual bill to pay, especially for college students. However, it is important to realize how much money is saved by turning off appliances, and if the effort to consistently turn off these appliances regularly is worth the time.

Datko assumes that if a person spends two minutes walking through a house trying to turn off four 20-watt light bulbs, the average number of light bulbs regularly left on, the average person would save 1.6 cents per walkthrough for a two-hour trip. Does this seem very cost effective? Probably not.

Of course, if you decide to go on a weekend vacation, then surely, turning off electronic appliances seems extremely cost effective. In the aforementioned scenario, if a person left his or her house for a weekend trip, roughly 52 hours, you would save 41.6 cents. Does this provide a significant dent in your annual electricity bill?

Now, let’s return back to on-campus living. On average, how long are you away from your room? I would wager quite a bit of money, certainly more than 41.6 cents, that you return to your room once every 24 hours. Does the amount of money saved by turning off all of your electronic appliances exceed the costs, such as time and effort, to actually turn them off? Maybe there’s a reason why quite a few individuals choose to leave their electronic appliances on regularly: they just feel that it is worth neither the time nor energy. Who are the EcoReps to tell them otherwise?

Well, maybe the EcoReps are trying to get at an issue much larger than just dollar amounts. Perhaps they are desperately trying to tell students that the resources that our generation takes for granted will eventually cease to exist, and that all future generations will suffer from the lack of these resources if we continue to ‘improperly’ use them.

Firstly, who are the EcoReps to determine whether or not I ‘properly’ use a resource? Perhaps I gain quite a bit of satisfaction from leaving lights on for 52 hours (certainly more than 41.6 cents worth). If the satisfaction that I gain exceeds the costs of leaving the lights on, isn’t my action to leave the lights on actually ‘proper?’

Secondly, I highly doubt that these resources will cease to exist. Certainly, we have heard the notions of ‘peak oil’ or ‘peak (insert resource here)’. Strictly homing in on oil, in 1970, oil reserves consisted of approximately 53 billion barrels of oil and approximately 16.5 billion barrels were consumed annually, which means that it would take 32.18 years for all of the oil to deplete. Well, it is now 2014, and guess what? There is still plenty of oil for all of us to buy and use. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the number of oil barrels in the U.S. from 2008 to 2011 increased by approximately 40.78 percent. In addition, geology expert John Dyni highlights that the U.S. alone contains approximately 2.175 trillion barrels of oil just waiting to be harvested. Does it sound like the world’s resources are rapidly depleting and that we and all of our children are soon going to suffer through a world uninhabitable because of our current terrible environmental habits?

Now, let’s assume that everything I said regarding the notion of ‘peak oil’ is false and that we are rapidly depleting our resources. Naturally, as the world’s population increases, more people will demand a particular resource. As the demand for this resource increases, the price will increase because the world, according to those that believe in this notion, cannot possibly hold enough of this resource to properly harvest. Because the price of the resource will increase, people will naturally leave the market for the resource because the resource is rationed through prices. As a result, fewer people will consume this resource, which would refute the significance of the notion of ‘peak oil.’

So, considering that the awareness message that the EcoReps have desperately tried to post throughout the campus has virtually no substance that informs students on environmental sustainability, I question whether or not the EcoReps’ presence on campus has even been effective since their inception. Perhaps if the EcoReps acted reasonably on their so-called mission to preserve the environment, maybe students would change their preferences on whether or not to turn off their electronic appliances. Until then, I fear that the EcoReps are wasting both their and students’ times and resources because their methods of preserving the environment have proved inefficient, as shown by their pitiful awareness message that tries to appeal to human sexuality rather than the environmental impact of ‘wasteful’ tendencies.

Mavrelis is a member  of

the class of 2017.



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