Aug. 24, 2009
Campus recycling effort introduces reusable shopping bag program
In an effort to reduce the volume of paper and plastic shopping bags that end up in trash cans and landfills, the Northwest Recycling Committee has organized a cloth shopping bag program that it hopes will convince students, faculty, staff and others to carry their store purchases in an environmentally responsible manner.
Earlier this year, the committee, which, along with the Office of Residential Life, implemented the "Reduce Your Pawprint" campus sustainability initiative, received an $8,700 state Department of Natural Resources grant administered through the Northwest Missouri Regional Solid Waste Management District.
The grant, along with a $4,900 match in University Applied Research funds and additional support from Northwest food-service provider ARAMARK and the Bearcat Bookstore, means that the committee will be able to give away approximately 15,000 cloth shopping bags to students faculty and staff during the 2009-'10 academic year.
Recycling Committee member Nancy Baxter of the Office of Finance and Operations, said the hope is that students and other members of the Northwest community will use the Bearcat-green bags, which carry the "Reduce Your Pawprint" slogan, while shopping both on and off campus.
This fall, all students living in Northwest residence halls will receive one of the bags as part of their welcome-to-college gift package from ARAMARK. Another 750 bags are to be distributed to faculty and staff at the opening meeting scheduled for Friday, August 28, in Bearcat Arena.
In addition, the Bearcat Bookstore and campus convenience stores located in The Station and the Garrett-Strong Science Building will hand out bags with purchases while supplies last. A limited number of bags will also be available to students taking classes through the University's outreach centers in St. Joseph and Liberty.
This spring, Textbook Services will distribute rental textbooks in Reduce Your Pawprint bags instead of using the traditional paper sacks.
Baxter said the effort will eliminate an estimated 600 pounds of paper and plastic this year from the local waste stream, a figure that should increase as more people get into the habit of shopping with reusable bags. That's significant because 3,300 plastic shopping bags weigh only 35.5 pounds. A similar number of paper bags weighs just over 260 pounds.
"We want to encourage everyone to shop with reusable bags at stores both on and off campus instead of using plastic or paper," Baxter said. "The whole concept is to recycle and get your paper and plastic out of the waste bin."
For more information about the shopping bag program and other recycling and sustainability efforts at Northwest, go to http://www.nwmissouri.edu/services/sustainability/index.htm .
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