Sustainable Skidmore: Get Unplugged!

Posted by Rachel Dyckman

As the days are getting shorter and colder weather approaches, Skidmore students are preparing for their fifth annual Skidmore Unplugged competition. Through Skidmore Unplugged, all eight residence halls on campus will compete to attain the greatest reduction in electricity usage over the course of three weeks. At the end of the three weeks, a prize is awarded to the "greenest" dorm. This year, the competition will take place from Oct.13 to Nov. 3 and the winning residence hall will receive a brand new water-bottle filling station. In addition, throughout the competition, active participants will be awarded gift cards to Chipotle, Ben&Jerry's, Healthy Living, Four Seasons and the Saratoga Farmer's Market along with other prizes. There will be plenty of opportunities for students to complete surveys, sign commitment cards, and participate in events where prizes will be given out.

The goal of the competition is to get students to see how seemingly small changes in individual actions can make a big impact on energy usage and encourage students to continue to make environmentally-friendly decisions after the competition is over, showing that, ultimately, the actions we take today will affect our future. Natural resources are scarce and we must do all that we can to preserve them while they are still here. As the burning of fossil fuels for energy is one of the leading causes of global climate change, it is important to reduce our electrical consumption as much as possible. Skidmore Unplugged is an inventive way for students to combat climate change, all while taking part in an exciting competition.

In residence halls there are a number of ways to reduce electricity consumption. For example, you can turn off lights before leaving rooms, unplug appliances and electronics when not in use, take shorter showers, spend more time in communal spaces to limit the use of electricity in dorm rooms and open shades and blinds during the day to utilize natural light. Instead of watching a movie or T.V., why not hang out with friends on the green, play a game of trivia, take a walk through beautiful downtown Saratoga or go apple picking at Saratoga Apple? The possibilities are endless!

The Skidmore Sustainability Representatives (S-Reps) will be holding events throughout the competition in an effort to get students excited about taking part in an energy-conscious lifestyle.

"Bringing these events together and to life has been a learning experience for all of us and we hope that everyone will come check out our events!" S-Rep, Hulwa Khaleel '16 said.

All of the S-Reps are eager to share energy-saving tips with students and will be regularly updating bulletin boards with unplugged events and sustainability facts.

The competition will culminate in a celebration of Diwalico-sponsored by Hayat and Skidmore Unplugged.

"Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights to honor the goddess Lakshmi and to celebrate the triumph of good over evil by lighting candles to drive away the darkness," Khlaeel said. "We thought it was a fun idea to team up during a time we are promoting unplugging and help the event out by providing solar-powered fairy lights and only using natural energy sources as lighting."

The Diwali celebration will start with a brief prayer and meditation to encourage the unplugging of electronics and to provide relaxation. Indian food will be served at the event along with a candle decorating and henna tattoo station.

Last year, Wilmarth Hall won the competition by achieving an 8.7% reduction in its electricity consumption. The total energy saved by the residence halls was approximately 5,166 kilowatt-hours, which is enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb continuously for 148 days--over four and a half months! This year, Skidmore students are determined to make Skidmore Unplugged the most successful yet!

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