PSU news by
Penn State's student blog



Students Working To Eliminate Use Of Plastic Bags

Paper or plastic? How about none at all?

A team of Penn State students is working on a campaign to help the university eliminate the use of plastic bags at campus convenience stores.

Sarina Katz, president of Eco Action, is leading the charge.

“I’ve always sort of just had a passion for the environment,” says Katz. “When I was little, my mom would take me – we didn’t have recycling bins by our house back then – to the local recycling centers, so it’s always been ingrained. You don’t put that in the garbage can – you save it and recycle it at some point.”

Katz doesn’t have exact figures on Penn State’s plastic bag consumption, but calls the sheer number “insane.”

As a result, Eco Action developed a long term, three-step approach to effectively eliminate the usage of plastic bags.

First, promote recycling awareness through posters and flyers, asking students to recycle plastic bags in their dorms and residence halls. Second, learn more about plastic bag policy by speaking to convenience store workers. Third, encourage the use of reusable bags or totes, similar to the ones offered at Target or Trader Joe’s.

Katz says her group has encountered a number of issues related to plastic bag usage on campus. After talking to on-campus employees, Eco Action found that very few workers knew their store’s policy on plastic bags, and were often handing out bags to students when they weren’t supposed to. In addition, many students were unaware that reusable bags are available for purchase.

To fix these issues, Eco Action is calling for a more stringent policy to prevent convenience store employees from handing out extra plastic bags, as well as providing incoming freshman with reusable bags.

The biggest challenge remaining, Katz says, is finding a way to convince people that excessive bag usage and waste has a negative effect on the environment

According to the Clean Air Council, an advocacy group dedicated to environmental causes, Americans use approximately 102 billion plastic bags each year, creating tons of landfill waste. Less than one percent of plastic bags are recycled.

“How do you encourage people to change their habits?” says Katz. “In regards to that, it’s really hard. How do you convince somebody that this is better than what you’re doing now?”

At the end of the semester, Eco Action will give a presentation to representatives from university administration summarizing their findings and offering recommendations for change.

If the campaign is successful, there’s a good chance the program will spread to the Borough of State College. Mayor Elizabeth Goreham visited with Eco Action, and said she is “on board” with reducing plastic bag consumption.

In 1972, Eco Action became Penn State’s first environmental organization, with the goal of achieving an ultimately sustainable university. Each semester, a group of students create and work together on two to three environmental campaigns that promise positive environmental change.

Past campaigns include “Quit Coal,” an effort to convince Penn State’s administration to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy in power plants, and an Environmental Bill of Rights, which effectively banned natural gas drilling within State College boundaries.

About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.


More by CJ

Get Out There And Meet People: CJ Doon’s Senior Column

Whether it’s natural curiosity or fear of the spotlight, I’m not sure, but I’ve always been more comfortable asking questions rather than answering them. Interviewing interesting people — friends, family, or strangers — is an enjoyable activity that I hope to turn into a living. At Penn State, I was afforded the opportunity to follow that passion — and then some.

Penn State Women’s Lacrosse Wins First Big Ten Championship

Jesse James Drafted No. 160 Overall By Pittsburgh Steelers


Penn State Hoops Gets Iced Up For NIT Title

A banner raising ceremony will commemorate the achievement prior to the team’s season opener on November 9 against North Florida.

Reports: Tony Carr To Begin Professional Career In Italy

Penn State Hockey’s Aarne Talvitie Showcases At Devils Development Camp

Penn State Hoops Releases 2018-19 Non-Conference Schedule

Forward Abdou Tsimbila Commits To Penn State Hoops

Student Life

Penn State Student Dies Of Allergic Reaction To Peanuts

Max McGlinchey had just finished his freshman year studying finance.

Freshman 101: On-Campus Life

Student Farm To Commemorate Summer Solstice With Second Annual Celebration

Plans Submitted For New KFC In State College

Developers have submitted preliminary land development plans to build a new KFC restaurant at 1780 S. Atherton St. in State College.

‘Rathskeller’ Name Subject Of Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

The complaint cites that the business has been sold throughout the years and is not tied to that specific location.

Finance Committee Recommends Tuition Freeze For In-State Undergraduate Students

If it is approved by a full-Board vote Friday, the committee’s budget plan will freeze in-state undergraduate tuition for the first time since 2015.

Be the first to know

  • Top posts and the best Penn State stories

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Penn State Hoops Gets Iced Up For NIT Title

A banner raising ceremony will commemorate the achievement prior to the team’s season opener on November 9 against North Florida.

Send this to a friend