Roll Along with the Reusable Bag
If you are a student, hopefully you have received a BGSU reusable bag when you moved into your residence hall this fall. Maybe you received one at Campus Fest. Or, you may be one of the few that have not received a bag yet. So, what’s the hype with the new reusable bag and why should you use it?
The new reusable bag is an initiative aimed to decrease the number of plastic bags handed out on campus and offer the campus community a reusable option when shopping, packing food, or carrying items around campus. Did you know, 12 minutes is the average lifespan of a plastic bag from initial use to disposal (Forbes, 2018). And, 12 million barrels of oil are used to make all plastic bags in the US each year (Center for Biological Diversity, 2019). You may have seen these quotes on the side of the new reusable bag. The Environmental Action Group (E.A.G), a student organization, brought these facts to the attention of the campus community during the Spring of 2018.
During that same time, E.A.G collaborated with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) to propose and pass a resolution that banned plastic bags on campus. A difficult path followed regarding how to transition the campus away from plastic bags and towards a renewable option.
During the next year collaboration took place with administration, BGSU Dining, Campus Sustainability, Admissions, E.A.G, USG, The Student Green Fund, and others. Many alternatives were suggested but nothing was pursued campus wide. During the same time the city of Bowling Green started to discuss the option of banning plastic bags within the city limits. Banning plastic bags and offering alternatives started to lose interest on campus. Certain groups continued to discuss alternatives, but little progress was being made.
That all changed Spring semester 2019, when an undergraduate Tatiana Rodzos (recently graduated) submitted an application to the Student Green Fund as part of a class project (and on behalf of E.A.G). The application requested funding for 15,000 reusable bags that would be distributed to students at Bowling Green State University. The grant proposal was successful, and money was awarded by the Green Fund for the project.
Much more collaboration and planning took place this past summer to plan the details of the introduction and distribution of the reusable bags for students when they arrived back on campus. Distributing 15,000 bags to students required efforts from Purchasing, BGSU Dining, Residence Life, Campus Sustainability, USG, Student Green Fund, and E.A.G. This project is a perfect example of how change comes about in a campus community; but, time, perseverance, and creativity are all required!
As you walk around campus keep your eye out for the BGSU reusable bag. If you see one be reminded of the hours of collaboration and planning that took place to make it a possibility. The average American family uses approximately 1,500 plastic bags a year (Center for Biological Diversity, 2019). Imagine if we all converted to using a reusable bag and the amount of pollution that would decrease in our communities and landfills. For example, it takes between 400 and 1000 years for a plastic bag to breakdown. During this times these plastics contaminate soil and waterways—contributing to, “over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year” (Conserving Now, 2019) Be an environmental advocate and use you bag!
All students living on campus should have received a bag during the initial move in. If students did not receive a bag, or do not live on campus you may contact Olive Bartholomew (E.A.G President firstname.lastname@example.org), or reach out to BGSU Campus Sustainability (email@example.com).