Paper or plastic? If the Office of Sustainability has a say, it will be neither.
On April 1, UMD stores will stop using plastic bags. The Office of Sustainability teamed up with UMD stores to create a greener campus.
“We don’t want to just recycle plastic bags, we want to reduce the use entirely,” said Director of the Office of Sustainability Mindy Granley.
Every year, roughly 22 millions pounds of plastic bags enter the Great Lakes, according to a study done by the Rochester Institute of Technology.
UMD stores started reducing the use of plastic bags about seven years ago when they introduced the idea of April being a ‘bag-free month.’ Eventually, they want to be completely bag free. They also have the nickel program, where if customers decide not to use a bag, the store will donate a nickel to planting trees on campus. This program is year round.
“The fact that plastic never really goes away is a draw for me personally,” Buyer Supervisor Ann Pellant of UMD stores said.
Bag It Duluth wants to bring an end to the use of single use plastic bags and encourage the use of reusable bags stemmed throughout the entire city. They are proposing a phase out of single use plastic bags and adding a minimal charge for the use of paper bags. Their hope is to encourage sustainability in the community, starting at stores.
“Plastic bags end up in landfills and are pervasive in the environment,” Pellant said.
The Office of Sustainability seeks to educate students and reaching out to community members about how to reduce waste.
“Our job is to amplify the store’s messages and to get people to think,” Granley said.
Granley suggests that an easy way to start being environmentally friendly is by not taking plastic bags when offered and investing in reusable cloth bags.