Students at the University of Pittsburgh have bagged plastic bags, reducing usage by 80% in just one month. At the beginning of February, the dining services team, managed by Sodexo, implemented a quota limiting students to a maximum of 15 bags per semester, or about one bag per week, after environmentally conscious students shared concerns about excess plastic bag usage. Instead, students must BYOB—bring your own bag—when purchasing items at campus facilities. They also can take a bag from “bring a bag, leave a bag” containers near checkout lanes.
Staff monitor plastic bag usage through the existing online cash register system. If students exceed their bag quota within the semester, they will be charged 25 cents for each additional bag. A portion of the proceeds from the campaign will go to Green Fund, a student-run organization focused on environmental and sustainability issues.
In addition to social media announcements, posters were placed in and around facilities where plastic bags are available to inform students of the initiative, and student advocates of the program manned information tables outside dining facilities to answer questions. “It’s the right thing to do,” says Susan Fukushima, resident district manager for Sodexo at Pittsburgh. “It’s important to do anything that we can to be more sustainable on campus.”