By: Cody Funderburk, Staff Writer
Awareness of the dangers of plastic waste has garnered much attention in recent years. As human consumption increases at an ever-expanding rate, reducing the resulting trash becomes more critical every day. Considering Warren Wilson’s notable reputation as being a “green school,” it comes as no surprise that this coming fall semester will be accompanied by a ban on plastic bags and bottled water in the Warren Wilson Bookstore.
The decision was originally suggested by Patrick Linstrom of the Recycling Crew. “Places concerned with the environmental impact of plastic bags like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Mexico City, and the entire country of Rwanda have banned the distribution of plastic bags,” Linstrom states. “If major cities and even entire countries can ban plastic bags, there is absolutely no reason why our environmental-minded campus of 800 students cannot ban the sale of plastic bags on our campus.”
Most of the plastic bag waste that goes through Warren Wilson Recycling is from grocery stores and department stores. Nonetheless, plastic shopping bags from the Warren Wilson Bookstore also occur in our waste system, and are worthy of being addressed. The Bookstore will continue to sell reusable shopping bags, which will be reduced to $.99 each. Also, clean reusable bags from the Free Store will be provided when possible (at no extra cost). All of these measures are intended to make sure the policy change remains fair and affordable for all customers. Student reactions are generally positive so far, and some students have expressed satisfaction with the new policy change. “I don’t know why we haven’t done it before,” says freshman Miron Honer. “If the school can take initiative to reduce shopping bag waste, they should.”
However The primary users of shopping bags from the bookstore may not even be the residents of Wilson. “Usually there’s not a lot of staff and students that use the bags,” says Keller Knight, Manager of the Student Bookstore, “it’s the visitors that come and check-out the college, and the conference people.” The novelty of Warren Wilson College promoted on t-shirts and hoodies, pens, cups, keychains, and other fun knick-knacks attract visitors who, unlike students, don’t live relatively close and may need a bag to carry their purchases.
Coupled with the decision to phase-out plastic bags is the decision to omit bottled water in the fall semester of 2014. The bookstore has plenty of reusable water bottles for sale, any of which can be refilled at the multitude of drinking fountains located throughout the campus. Additionally, the bookstore intends to stock cheaper refillable containers in the fall to substitute the absence of bottled water. Small measures such as these make a big difference in the sustainability of the school, and help uphold the environmentally responsible label we take so much pride in.
This act represents just one more of the many measures adopted by Warren Wilson to maintain a minimal ecological footprint. The bookstore is trying to spread the word of their intent to effectively reduce the amount plastic garbage produced at Wilson while promoting environmental consciousness to both residents and visitors. A