The Hypocrisy of CC’s Notion of Sustainability

I don’t know if this is the case for many others, but my impression of Colorado College has changed dramatically from when I first visited the campus in the spring of my senior year of high school. A lot of this evolution can be explained by the fact that both the college and myself have not stopped changing. Still, a lot of other things I thought to be true about CC I now know as untrue. One of those things is the sustainability of the college and the community’s commitment to it.

Illustration by Caroline Li

The commitment to sustainability is something that the CC community takes great pride in, without having an actual substantial plan to back it up. Don’t get me wrong, there are people and offices on campus who are very committed to making CC as sustainable as it can be­—the Office of Sustainability and the Synergy community being some of them. On the other hand, I have been in multiple classes where the teacher has asked me to print out all of my readings, some of which are over 20 pages long. The sprinklers on campus are separated by only a few meters, and seem to use an exorbitant amount of water to serve a mostly aesthetic purpose. Still, if you ask a student at CC to describe the general student body in a few words, some of those words would most likely be “outdoorsy,” “outgoing,” and “eco-friendly.”

This perception of the student body makes a lot of sense—undoubtedly, a great number of CC students go hiking, work at camps, and generally enjoy the great outdoors over the summer; most of these activities, coincidentally, do not require large amounts of fossil fuels and electricity, thus giving a perception of the average CC student as being concerned about the environment, regardless of whether they actually are or not. The catch here, though, is the “over the summer” part.

As soon as the winter snow rolls in, many students put on their ski jackets, get in their cars, blast the heat on full, and drive over 100 miles to different ski resorts in Summit County, only to drive those 100 miles again in a couple of hours. Many students may go skiing on both weekend days, and others may even go during the week. However small the average CC student’s carbon footprint may be over the summer, it grows exponentially in the winter months.

The problem, for me, is not specifically the skiing, or turning your heat up high in your room, or using hot water during a long shower—it’s the hypocrisy. Most people who partake in these activities probably consider themselves fairly environmentally friendly or environmentally conscious, and yet they continue to behave the way they do without acknowledging the impact of their behavior.

I, too, ski on the weekends. We pack my car, or one of my friends’ car, full of people and equipment, and drive for two hours, 100 miles, and roughly five gallons of gas just to enjoy a little bit of time on the slopes. Still, I acknowledge this hypocrisy and try to do my best to neutralize its consequences: I keep my showers to under seven minutes, turn the heat in my room to the lowest possible setting that still allows my pipes not to freeze, and use as few lights as possible. Hypocrisy is, fortunately or not, mostly accidental; if I have made you realize that you’re a hypocrite, I hope you value yourself and others enough to change it.

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