5 Escapes Into Nature at Northwestern

Eco-Reps Spread Sustainability to Students

November 14, 2014 Comments (4) All Other Stories, Features

A Day in the Life of an Extreme Green Cupper

By Christina Cilento

It is 6:02 a.m. I wake up naturally with the chirping of the birds and the penetrating crashes of Kresge’s innards toppling to the ground. Since I unplugged my alarm clock I find I’m much more in tune with the University’s construction schedule.

I slip out of my woolen sheets and alpaca comforter and am immediately hit by a room temperature of 62 degrees. My skin has become so accustomed to temps in the high fifties that this morning’s heat wave has me feeling a bit stifled.

I open my window and reach out to bring in my cup. My precious cup. Each night I place it on my windowsill so by morning it’s filled with dew and—if Mother Nature is kind enough—rain. The cup is integral to my morning routine. I dip my toothbrush in the 2 millimeters of water gathered at the bottom, squeeze on some toothpaste and move it in concentric circles over my dents. It tastes sweet but slightly acidic. Damn those atmospheric sulfur dioxides.

I tiptoe to the bathroom to spit, dropping down into an army crawl as I pass by the electric hand dryer. There’s no telling when that shit will go off. Best to play it safe.

The sun has just risen, so it’s peak natural-light hour. Golden rays stream in through the window as I sit on the toilet, whose contents match the sun’s golden glow. In the spirit of reducing my waste, I pull out my reusable toilet paper from my pocket. Now this sounds gross, but I clean it every other day, so it’s really not that bad.

Next comes the shower. I step past the curtain and shed my towel. I don’t pull the curtain closed—I get more light with it open, and the kid in room 426 doesn’t have his morning bowel movement until 6:14 anyway, which gives me a whole three minutes to finish my bathing routine.

I turn the handle steadily to the right, unleashing a flow of water about equivalent to a light drizzle. To me, though, it seems like the Three Gorges has burst open. I instantly clutch the knob with the intention of reducing the water pressure, but find my hand un-consentingly turning the knob to the right, toward a higher water pressure and more reasonable temperature. “NO!” I scream. “You’re stronger than this!” I slap my hand back down to my side where it droops, defeated. Collecting my emotions, I give it a second attempt and am successful.

My shower routine is very precise. I give myself 3.7 seconds to wet my hair, lather it up for 48 seconds, then rinse for another 11. I dampen my back, chest and face by doing one 360-degree turn that takes approximately 4.1 seconds. Washing those parts takes about a minute all together, and leaves me about 9 seconds to rinse. It’s No-Shave November, so I bypass the pits and legs. I finish just in time to wrap my towel around myself before the guy from 426 walks in. He switches on the lights. Whadda dick. I walk out and casually switch them off, yelling, “FOR THE POLAR BEARS.”

So at this point it’s 6:15 and I still have almost four hours left until my first class. I dress for the day, grab my laundry hamper, and walk toward the lakefill. On the way there, I pick up the occasional granola wrapper and disintegrated flyer remnants. These items will go well in my modern art piece I’ve been working on. It’s a commentary on litter and the disposable nature of our society. Really groundbreaking stuff, I think.

I reach the lake’s edge right by Norris and cautiously climb down the rocks toward the water. My friends the geese are already waiting for me. Turning my hamper upside down, I empty the contents into the lake, including my reusable toilet paper. I grab the long branch that I keep hidden between two rocks—because God forbid someone should find my laundry stick and use it for fetch or something ridiculous like that—and begin to stir my laundry in a circle. This technique gets most of the sweaty smell out, but for the stubborn stains, like on my toilet paper, I pound the clothes with a rock. It’s a long process, but it’s really worth it.

After I’m finished, it’s 8:28. I’m right on schedule. I toss my newly cleaned garments back in my hamper, bid adieu to my fowl friends and trek over to that central heating building next to Annenberg. Most people know it as the building with the really loud fans, but for me it holds a dearer significance. I plop down my hamper and pull out my clothes, one by one, placing them on hangers and sticking them on the grates of the fan. The perfect drying mechanism. It only takes about 33 minutes for my clothes to be dried this way, so I go on a brief walk around campus, turning off lights in unoccupied buildings and untwisting hoses so sprinklers stop going off. It’s thankless work, but it’s vital. After my rounds are finished, I return to my clothes. Someone took one of my socks, but whatever. I’m happy to provide.

There’s only about an hour left until my class now, so I gather up my clothes and head back to my dorm. People are on their way to class and are giving me weird looks about walking around campus with my hamper. But I’m used to it. The kids in my hall either ignore me out of fear or shame for their carbon-intensive ways. And for those of you reading this who are thinking, “This is madness!”, I’d like to say:

No. This is Green Cup.

Print Friendly

4 Responses to A Day in the Life of an Extreme Green Cupper

  1. meghan says:

    Loved it! Didn’t know you went that far for green cup but that is real dedication. More people should be like that. Imagine the difference we could make!

  2. MOM says:

    Funny article! Please tell me you don’t really do your laundry in the lake (or for that matter have reusable toilet paper). Please. I am begging you. I like the cup on the window ledge idea, though. Very inventive use of dew!

  3. Sheridan says:

    I actually giggled out loud several times when I read this article (which was days ago, btw). Good thing Kemper wiped the floor with GreenHouse this year at Green Cup!

  4. hahahah says:

    “Mom” lawllllll

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *