Loyola students vote on curbing plastic bags on campus
When Gabriela Baldassari took a sustainability class at Loyola University Chicago last year, she began an assignment that took her out of the classroom.
Baldassari was on a mission to find a way to minimize the use of plastic bags on campus.
And, just one day after Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported a citywide green initiative to minimize the use of plastic bags, Loyola students will vote on the focus of Baldassari’s project: a “BYOB” Bring Your Own Bag referendum that would significantly reduce the use of plastic bags on campus.
Baldassari took her idea to the Student Environmental Alliance last year, and with help from the university’s Unified Student Government Association, Loyola students, faculty and staff may soon be mindful of bringing their own bags to campus stores.
In the online vote, students are being asked whether they support “the effort to minimize the use of plastic bags in Loyola Chicago campus stores.” The university will release voting results Friday, and if student Adidas Outlet s vote to pass the referendum, the Student Environmental Alliance and the Institute of Environmental Sustainability, which is in the process of becoming its own school at Adidas Outlet Loyola, will present it to the university administration, according to Loyola University’s Director of Sustainability Aaron Durnbaugh. The administr Adidas Outlet ation will ultimately decide.
Baldassari said the effort to reduce plastic bags on campus is important because students often use plastic bags at on campus book stores and grocery stores.
Universities throughout the country have implemented th Adidas Outlet e plastic bag ban as well. American University, Tufts University, University of Oregon, California State University and Washington University in St. Louis have each launched a program to minimize the use of plastic bags.
Mayor Emanuel supported the goals of an ordinance to ban plastic bags Tuesday, although his spokeswoman told the Sun Times that he is working on the details with ordinance sponsor and health committee chairman Ald. George Cardenas (12th). The city’s Committee on Health and Environmental Protection will vote on the ban the bag ordinance April 15, and the full Council vote will follow.
The city’s ordinance would replace plastic bags with potentially taxed plastic compostable bags or paper bags, but Loyola’s ban would encourage students, faculty and staff to bring their own reusable bags to campus. Compostable paper bags and plant based bags that look and feel like plastic will be available to students who forget to bring a bag, but they may have to pay a few additional cents for it, according to Baldassari.
The citywide ordinance is “interesting but also problematic,” Durnbaugh said. If the city prohibits plastic bags, shoppers will switch to compostable or paper bags, which are more costly for retailers, he said. The Illinois Retail Merchants Association suggested a 10 cent tax on paper bags that could change consumer behavior Tuesday, but Ald. Cardenas rejected the pitch.
“Then the goal of reducing single use bags doesn’t follow through,” Durnbaugh said.
The so called BYOB campaign comes after Loyola banned the sale of bottled water on campus in 2012, an initiative that the student environmental alliance also launched.