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Column: Reusable Bags at CCSU In or Out?

By Ashley Foy

With all the talk of saving the planet and being environmentally friendly, one can easily become fed up with the concept. Most people think they cannot make a difference anyway. Who cares what my carbon footprint is, right?

There are many little things one can do to be environmentally friendly, such as using reusable shopping bags, though, they are not an entirely new concept. After an informal survey of fifty students and professors at at CCSU, I found several common reasons why some do not do their part in helping the environment and using reusable bags.

As college students, we are tired, poor and usually stressed out. When we go to the grocery store the last thing on our minds is what kind of bag we will use to carry our purchases.

The survey results showed that 40 percent of students and professors polled used reusable bags either on occasion or always. Out of those 60% who never use reusable bags, only one person said they do not reuse the plastic shopping bags. All of the others surveyed who sometimes or always use plastic bags said they reuse them for trash, disposal of pet waste, as lunch or snack bags, and to store house items.

“I reuse grocery store bags around the house; I have a big bag full of plastic bags. I try to recycle all my plastic, glass, papers and cans,” said CCSU student Mike Zimmerman. “I also give away all my used clothes, as well as books and toys from my childhood to charity.”

What is stopping people from using reusable bags? Nearly every student who usually does not reuse bags said they wouldn’t remember to bring the bags with them. A few participants claimed they preferred free plastic bags over reusable bags.

Reusable bag users thought the opposite. They said that using the store-provided  plastic bags was a hassle. That reusable bags are more durable, hold more items, and create less garbage were reason enough to convince these students to reuse bags.

One student suggested that another incentive to use Stop ‘n Shop reusable bags is the 5 cent refund for each bag Stop and Shop reusable bag used during a purchase. Reusing bags to help the environment was generally just a perk.

“I try to use reusable bags because I know it’s good for the planet and I love the planet! The reusable bags are also much easier to carry up to my third floor apartment,” explained CCSU student Rebecca Lewin.

Reusable bags are available at most grocery stores (specifically Whole Foods Market, Stop ‘n Shop and Trader Joes). The bags can also be found at the online store reusablebags.com and other Web sites such as uline.com and ecobags.com.

If students prefer not to have to buy a reusable bag, they can use any backpack or bag they already own. Or, if they are prone to forget, students can leave their reusable bags in an obvious place where they live and add a “reminder” item on their shopping lists.