One web site featuring recyclable bags displays a counter totaling up the number of plastic bags used this year in the United States. The counter currently shows 85 billion bags and counting. According to Christine Simmons, student aide at the circulation / information desk at Falvey, “The world uses 100,000 plastic bags each minute.”
Christine, a junior chemistry and environmental studies major and also a member of the University President’s Climate Commitment team, submitted the idea to have Falvey switch to recyclable bags last spring. Christine’s job in the library raised her awareness of how many plastic bags were distributed to library patrons on a daily basis, and she knew that this change would comprise a significant contribution toward making Villanova a greener campus.
Her suggestion was forwarded to Donna Chadderton, a member of the Access and User Assistance team and also a member of the Climate Commitment team, who helped implement the improvement.
Several important facts support choosing recyclable bags. Fossil fuels, specifically natural gas, are used to make plastic bags. At the consumption rate of 100,000 bags a minute, it takes 12 million barrels of oil annually to meet production. Also, plastic bags are not as durable as recyclable bags and do not biodegrade easily or quickly in landfills.
Falvey’s new recyclable bags are made of non-woven polypropylene. This material feels like cloth but is less expensive. Bags made from this recyclable material are reusable, tear resistant, water repellent and hand-washable. Recyclable bags also degrade faster in landfills than plastic bags.
The company that supplies the new Falvey Bags, Virgo III, also creates other green products such as shirts and blankets made out of bamboo, corn pens that are biodegradable and travel mugs that biodegrade within five years in a landfill. Falvey is pleased to support Virgo III’s efforts to offer environmentally friendly products.
Response to the new bags from students, faculty and staff has been enthusiastic. The voluntary monetary donations for each bag have been brisk, and the money raised this semester will be used to purchase Thanksgiving dinners and to support other charities.
The next time you need help carrying your library books, ask for a recyclable bag. Your efforts toward creating a greener campus count!
Photograph by Laura Hutelmyer