After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law forbidding stores from providing single-use plastic bags to their customers April 22, the Ithaca College Bookstore has begun phasing them out. The Bookstore is the last establishment on campus to still use plastic bags — stores like Mac’s General Store and SubConnection have either switched to paper bags or have stopped using them altogether. The ban on the use of plastic bags will be fully implemented at the Bookstore by March 2020, which is the deadline constituted by the law.
The college’s retail establishments’ move to fully eliminate plastic bags is an exciting change for the college — and one that will bring it closer to its goal of becoming more sustainable. The college has a long history of promoting sustainability and environmental conscientiousness on its campus, and to completely ban plastic bags will only serve to more fully reflect that. Many students have reacted positively to the ban at the college and have said they agree that it is an important environmental issue.
However, this enthusiasm from the campus community and the timeline for implementing the change prompt a question: Why not ban plastic bags sooner?
Currently, there is a petition circulating around the campus community to push the Bookstore to fully implement the plastic bag ban now, and it has garnered over 600 signatures already. Eliminating plastic bag usage now instead of nearly a year from now could contribute to a quicker, more effective improvement of the environment surrounding the college. While the Bookstore has stopped purchasing plastic bags for future usage, it still does not have to use its remaining plastic bag stash, which would allow for more potential pollution. There are many events and places within the local community, like chain grocer Wegmans and events hosted by IC Impact, that take plastic bags and repurpose them into reusable ones or something more sustainable.
Ultimately, the Bookstore should take the campus community’s enthusiasm in stride and fully ban plastic bags sooner rather than later. After all, the outcome can only serve to better the campus environment.