90,000 Bottles of Plastic No More

By Myra Saturen
September 04, 2014

From l-r: Rachel Cimera, Aaron Rosengarten, Melissa Hernandez, Jose Galarza, and Phyllis Freeman.

If environmentalists at Northampton Community College (NCC) realize their vision, non-biodegradable food containers will be eliminated at all NCC dining service locations by fall 2015.  Food service plastics will be reduced by 50% within three years and by 80% within five years. 

On September 4, students Rachel Cimera, Aaron Rosengarten, Phyllis Freeman, Jose Galarza, and Melissa Hernandez showed their PowerPoint presentation on this project to members of the College's Sustainability Committee and recommended ways to reduce the Main Campus's plastic footprint. 

"Our ultimate goal is to improve environmental awareness and environmental practices at NCC and in the surrounding community," Freeman said. 

The presentation has its roots during summer meetings held by students, faculty, staff, and representatives of Sodexo, which supplies food service to NCC.    

According to Scientific American, plastics harm the environment and human health in many insidious ways. Amazingly, plastic bottle sales at NCC, including those holding soda, water and juice, totaled 90,000 last year!  Those non-reusable grab-and-go salad containers at the Food Court accounted for 3,172 plastic receptacles, alone. 

What would replace these ubiquitous bottles, boxes and bowls?  The students recommended alternatives. Biodegradable wheat containers can be discarded after use, but serve an environmental purpose as compost. Offered the option of eating and drinking from china, glassware and silverware, diners can choose to reduce the use of plastic in the Food Court. Sales of plastic bottles in the Food Court would end.  So would purchases of plastic bottles in bulk using Flex dollars. (Beverages in plastic bottles would still be sold in the bookstore.)     

Signage in prominent places on campus would remind students that they have healthful and environmentally sound choices of food and beverage containers and educate them about the issue.        

The plan to reduce the College's plastic footprint has already gained support from several student organizations, including the Student Life Zone, Phi Theta Kappa: Tau Gamma, Psychology Club, Student Senate, Honors Club, Political Science Club, and Business Club. 

"With your help, we can achieve our goals," Rosengarten said. 







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