STORY BY CLAIRE HUEG
The average college student loves to receive mail, but recently, Drake students encountered something else in their mailbox: a reusable bag.
The Drake Environmental Action League (DEAL) gifted each student a bag to help eliminate Drake’s waste and increase environmental awareness on campus.
“After two years of watching students use plastic bag after plastic bag at the C-Store — sometimes even just to carry one item — and seeing plastic bags flyingacrosscampusinthewind and getting stuck in trees, we started researching the impact
that these bags have on the environment,” said junior Jade Suganuma, former vice president of DEAL.
Suganuma soon found that Drake offers no way to recycle plastic bags, and when they enter landfills they take thousands of years to decompose.
Environmental science and policy professor Dr. David Courard-Hauri supports DEAL’s denunciation of plastic.
“Plastic bags, because they blow easily, often make it into waterways,” Courard-Hauri said. “Because bags don’t break down, when they are ingested they often cause mortality.”
Knowing this, Suganuma and other students, including Kelly Leatherman, set out to make a change.
“It started with contacting Sodexo’s retail and general manager, then contacting Student Senate and RHA to get
funding for the resuable bags,” said Leatherman, a member of DEAL.
Leatherman said that the beginning of the movement was met with “a surprising amount of resistance from students.”
First year students Megan Mulligan and Emily Tinsman oppose the change.
“No one will use their bag anyway,” Mulligan said. “It’s a waste.”
Tinsman reuses plastic bags in her trash can. For her, finding bags elsewhere is a nuisance.
Now that plastic bags are gone, however, other students seem to be on board with the decision.
While some express that it is a mild inconvenience, many just put the purchase in a backpack or carry it without a bag.
“They have to use something.” Courard-Hauri says. “If the C-Store isn’t providing plastic bags, they have to find something
C-Store customers aren’t
necessarily using the bags DEAL worked to bring to campus, however.
Instead, when students are asked what they do with the bags, answers include, “I use it as a shower caddy,” “I brought it to the farmers market,” “I’ll use it to carry stuff home over break” and even “I don’t know where to put it. I’ll probably just throw it away.”
Throughout the year, more reusable bags may be seen at the C-Store, but these bags are being used for much more than any organization could foresee.
These reusable bags aren’t simply more free swag at the beginning of a school year. They represent the hard work of many organizations to make Drake a greener campus.
“It does matter what your environment, what the stuff around you, feels like.” Courard- Hauri stated, when asked why students should personally care about the environment. “It has a psychological impact. Trash isn’t comfortable.”