As a civic engagement advocate for campus sustainability, student Peter York has led an initiative to deter the use of single-use plastic bags at Alfred State College.
Over the past few months, York, a construction management major from Akron, has worked with a number of stakeholders across campus to raise awareness about environmental damage caused by single-use plastic bags and discourage their use.
“It is important to promote sustainable actions at educational institutions because today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders and the ones who can make a huge impact in the world when it comes to sustainability,” explained York.
The initiative began in the fall through talks with Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services, Inc. (ACES). With support from his fellow student advocates, York, who serves as a student representative on the Board of Directors, requested to display informative posters in front of plastic bag stands at ACES campus dining facilities.
The posters ask “Bag or No Bag?” with an image of the environmental damage caused by the use of single-use plastic bags.
York then strategized with ACES and other interest groups on campus about how to extend these efforts. He gauged the student body opinion at Student Senate meetings, and found that students were in support of an initiative to ban single-use plastic bags as long as an alternative was provided.
Working with the Student Senate Sustainability Fund Committee, York secured funding to purchase 500 reusable bags to distribute to students across campus.
During Earth Week festivities, civic engagement advocates distributed 185 reusable bags, at no cost to students. ACES has recently stopped putting food orders in single-use plastic bags, using paper bags instead. The plan is to phase the reusable bags in over time by providing them at large campus events, especially for incoming students.
Looking to the future, York said, “My end vision is to completely eliminate single-use plastic bags on Alfred State’s campus and create a sustainably minded culture while doing so.”