IC Greens is petitioning a college-wide ban of single-use plastic bags and water bottles on campus. However, the petition fails to provide strategies for college businesses and students to make the removal of plastic materials realistic.
Retail locations on campus, like Mac’s General Store, profit from sales of many products that come in single-use bottles. Banning plastic would require the stores to replace these products with drink fountains or, alternatively, lose money.
There is also high demand for single-use plastic bottles and bags, and as long as students want soda and other beverages, they will purchase plastic bottles. Plastic bags are convenient for people who do not have reusable bags to carry purchases in. The college should increase sales of reusable bags through discount incentives or other promotions.
The campus community must be driven away from plastic usage. For example, the University of Vermont provides reusable Eco-Ware containers for student meals like those offered at locations like Sandela’s Cafe.
A long-term strategy that makes reusable products more convenient may be more effective in removing plastic from campus.