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Sustainability club needs 1,000 pounds of plastic bags

staff writer

Published: Monday, February 10, 2014

Updated: Monday, February 10, 2014 23:02

plastic bags

Nick Carpenter photo

It takes 1,000 years for a single plastic grocery bag to biodegrade, according to the Students for Sustainability Club, which is why they’re taking action on campus by facilitating the Plastic Bag Recycling Challenge.

Not only can students get rid of the cache of grocery bags under their kitchen sinks, but their effort could help USU receive a new bench made from recycled materials. Trex, a composite decking company that sponsors the competition for college and university campuses around the country, will donate the bench if USU can collect 1,000 pounds by Earth Day, which is April 22.

“Currently the university doesn’t have the facilities to recycle those bags at the recycling center,” said Alexi Lamm, USU’s sustainability coordinator. “So people needed to take those bags back to the grocery stores, which do accept them, or they were throwing them away, or reusing them in their home. This provided another option for people who have those bags around to recycle them.”

Each area of on-campus housing has a bin, including the Living Learning Center Building A, Merrill Hall, the Lundstrom Student Center and others. A bin is also placed at the campus recycling center, located near Parking and Transportation Services.

Club president Jacoby Knight said student participation thus far has been more than anticipated. About 60 pounds of grocery bags have already been sent to be recycled.  

“We were actually surprised,” Knight said. “In December, when no one was up here, we collected about 25 pounds, which is pretty good. It filled my whole car.”

But students still have a long way to go, Lamm said.

“Of course we don’t want to encourage people to take more from the store, but for anyone who has them sitting under their kitchen counter somewhere, or in a drawer, we can definitely use more,” she said. “I think we’re a little behind where we’d like to be in order to get the bench.”

To convenience students living off campus, the club goes door-to-door to two apartment buildings a month, asking students for their bags.

“We’ve noticed that this program is catered more to students that live on campus,” Knight said. “This just makes it easier for people and it gets the word out about what we’re doing as a club and what they can do to help us reach our goal.”

The bin at the recycling center is another, perhaps more convenient, option for off-campus residents.

“I know some students drive up to the recycling center because they have a drop off area,” Lamm said. “But, if you’re up on campus anyway, there are drop-offs in most of the buildings.”

Viviane Baji, a sophomore majoring in environmental economics and a member of Students for Sustainability, said the competition is a great way for students to learn about the club and get involved. Knight said the club only had three members last year, and has grown to about 14 or 15 this year.

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