Univ. of Hawaii heading towards plastic-free campus

Student organization is building support for plastic bottle ban.

HONOLULU — Less than a month after a student group organized its first plastic-free week, its petition to ban single-use plastic water bottles has more than 800 signatures.

“We hope to see a strong initiative to ban all single-use plastics in the future, but for now, plastic water bottles is [a] good launching- off point,” Sustainable University of Hawai‘i member Rachael Roehl said in an email interview. “Essentially everyone has come in to contact with plastic water bottles at one time or another, and few really think about what happens after they throw it away.”

Sustainable UH, working with the Surfrider Foundation at UH Mānoa, launched its petition during its plastic-free week, which took place from Nov. 17-21. It aimed to raise awareness about the pollution caused by single-use plastics.

Banning single-use plastic water bottles

As of Dec. 13, the petition had 833 signatures but hopes to receive more than 1,000, according to Roehl.

“All it really takes are small lifestyle changes, like remembering to bring your reusable water bottle, that make a huge impact on the amount of plastic that is thrown away ending up in either landfills or our oceans,” she said. “The best part is, it works like a chain reaction. When one person starts changing their ways and sharing ideas with their friends, suddenly everyone is doing it.”

The petition on MoveOn.org states that the campus community is calling for the ban, as there is a growing need for environmental stewardship on the campus, island and around the country, as well as an increase in water refill stations. In addition, at least 65 campuses on the mainland have implemented similar bans.

The effect on eateries on campus

According to Roehl, the ban would affect venues that sell water bottles and would ideally eliminate sales all together, leaving room

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