Going green with your shopping bag for free

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

EnviroWestern reusable grocery bags

With its forthcoming project, EnviroWestern has sustainability in the bag"reusable grocery bags, to be precise.

During EnviroWeek, Oct. 1 to 5, EnviroWestern is teaming up with the University Students’ Council to distribute 500 free, reusable grocery bags for student use.

According to William Bertolin, EnviroWestern coordinator, an estimated 7 million grocery bags pile into landfills every day in Ontario alone.

“Not only do [bags] take up space in landfills, but they offer a unique problem, which is that they can blow away, and animals can eat them and die,” Bertolin said.

Though this is an avoidable problem, people don’t always take note of such environmental issues.

“Consumer wastefulness is pandemic, there are countless things that people use for as little as five minutes and then throw away,” Bertolin said.

“We’ve been taught not to think about what happens when we throw things out, but these items often take decades to decompose, sometimes much longer.”

Plastic bags stuck in trees and bushes

For EnviroWestern, distribution of the reusable bags is not the only goal, as the organization aims to raise student awareness about the unnecessary amount of grocery bags filling up landfills and the solution to this growing issue.

“Our challenge is to not just have people take the [free reusable bags] then not use them,” Bertolin said.

According to James Arthurs, VP-campus issues for the University Students’ Council, bags will be handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis in order to encourage students to only take a bag if they feel it is of value to them.

“This is always a battle, but we hope that through the various Enviro-displays that [Bertolin] and his team are putting together that the concerned individuals will be the ones who receive the bag,” Arthurs said.

The future expansion of EnviroWestern’s reusable bag pilot project hinges on the support of Western students. If the project is well-received by the student community, additional bags will potentially be available to purchase.

“If there is an interest [in the reusable bags], we’d be happy to support that and sell them [in Mustang Alley],” Carla DiPietro, manager of Mustang Alley, said. “Hopefully the students will be interested.”

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