Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878

Dining Services to revisit plastic bag ban in pilot program

Hold on to your plastic bags because soon they could be gone.

In conjunction with the Office of Sustainability, Dining Services will remove all plastic bags from Paws & Go starting in early-to-mid-October in a trial run organizers hope will spread to other campus locations. Paws & Go will instead sell reusable tote bags at cost value as replacements for the plastic bags.

Senior Jake Lyonfields, executive advisor for sustainability to Student Union, said that the Bag Use Reduction Committee will regroup following the trial and reassess the ban based on student opinions. The trial will end on a to-be-determined date between Thanksgiving and the end of the fall semester.

While still unsure of the actual price of the reusable bags, Lyonfields indicated that the committee already has 300-350 bags that will be ready for purchase with Bear Bucks.

The initiative is a rebirth of the plastic bag ban that passed SU Senate last October but was delayed due to a lack of student support. The initial proposal called for the replacement of plastic bags with paper bags and passed 11-7 in the Senate. However, Lyonfields indicated that this proposal was not the end goal that the BURC had in mind.

“We didn’t want the model suggested in that resolution,” Lyonfields said. “Come end of summer and beginning of the fall semester, a couple different partners reconvened, and we brought up the issue again.”

Junior and Senator Ryan Halvorsen said that despite early trepidation, the Senate remains supportive of the project.

Lyonfields has planned an education campaign for the ban in an effort to increase student awareness that may have been lost in previous efforts.

“[We will be] talking about sustainability, talking about unnecessary consumption, talking about how other alternatives are readily available and really engaging students on this issue,” Lyonfields said.

Many students have not been supportive of the change since the Senate passed it, and opposition has not waned in the past 11 months.

Senior Matt Lauer advocated keeping the plastic bags while introducing the reusable bags as an alternative for students looking to be more sustainable.

“I think they should give us choices, like with what they can do for food containers. You can show which people should use to be ecologically friendly, but forcing individuals into what may be an inconvenient action isn’t wise,” Lauer said. “Also, I think that these bags can pose health risks since they aren’t self-cleaning and sometimes aren’t cleaned before reuse.”

Others think that the move away from plastic bags is worthwhile.

“Honestly, the plastic bags are kind of unnecessary if you have a backpack. If you are purchasing a large amount of food, you should prepare in advance. But I still wouldn’t buy a reusable bag,” sophomore Empris Durden said. “I think most people who buy things from Paws & Go buy like one item and are going to eat it [in Bear’s Den].”


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  • Daniella Russo says:

    Congratulations on environmental leadership! You are not alone! We work with over 120 student campuses around the world to reduce their plastic footprint. Please contact us and we will connect you with others, and support your initiative with solutions and tools. Please visit for more information.
    Daniella Russo
    co-founder and executive director
    Plastic Pollution Coalition

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  • mcmack127 says:

    The bags that they are offering for sale made in the US or imported from China? Are they recyclable??? Can they be disinfected or cleaned? I see what they are trying to do… But they are defeating the purpose… How much more energy do the new IMPORTED “for sale” bags take to make? How many US job are they taking away to “SELL” those imported bags? There are US manufactures that make reusable bags they can sell! So they do NOT need to import!

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Student Life | The independent newspaper of Washington University in St. Louis since 1878