Approved by the:

Administrative Response:
Student Senate April 7, 2016

PENDING

Resolution Supporting a Reusable Bag Initiative with the University of Minnesota Bookstores

The Student Senate believes that the University of Minnesota should pursue efforts that prioritize and promote sustainability throughout the University of Minnesota system. To that end, in partnership with the Minnesota Student Association, student senators from the Twin Cities, Crookston, and Morris campuses and with support from University of Minnesota Bookstores, the Student Senate recommends that University of Minnesota Bookstores on the Twin Cities, Crookston, Rochester and Morris campuses implement a pilot project to encourage the use of reusable bags that includes a five cent donation to a charity every time a student does not use a plastic bag or a reusable bag is used. The Student Senate further recommends that University Bookstores and student government organizations on each system campus work together to promote this initiative by participating in a reusable bag design contest on their respective campuses. While the City of Minneapolis strives towards a zero-waste environment and is considering a ban on single-use plastic bags, the Student Senate further recommends for the Twin Cities campus to revisit our recommendations to mimic the City's policy if it goes into effect later this year and to continue collaborating with the Minnesota Student Association and the Student Senate.

COMMENT:

In an effort to reduce waste, University of Minnesota Bookstores have actively pursued sustainability initiatives in recent years. One such initiative has been to provide students with the option to purchase reusable bags instead of using single-use, disposable plastic bags. However, student interest has been lacking.

This resolution shall serve as a bridge between student governments at each campus and the Bookstore administration by outlining a mechanism to promote this initiative and an incentive to encourage bookstore customers to participate in this initiative in the long-term.

The mechanism would take the form of a reusable bag "design contest." This contest would be promoted by campus bookstores and by the respective campus student governments in conjunction with Earth Week (April 18-22). By bringing the design contest to the student body, we can ensure that the final designs will be appealing to our target demographic. This design contest could become an annual event and as a complement to the University's promotion of Earth Week.

The incentive for bookstore customers to purchase and use reusable bags would come in the form of a five cent donation for each purchase where a customer uses a reusable bag in lieu of a single-use plastic bag. This approach would not just be sustainable but also cost effective as it would reduce costs for the Bookstore. A single-use plastic bag currently costs 12 cents each when purchased in current bulk quantities by the bookstore. For every person that does bring their own bag, it will save the bookstore 7 cents overall if the five cent donation is implemented.

It is beneficial to implement such a policy for the University Bookstores due to its impact on costs to the University Bookstores, students, and the environment. Single-use plastic bags were created as a one-time use item that lack durability and are not biodegradable. They also have to be recycled in bulk to be cost-effective and worthwhile, something that is not easily done at the University level and City level when looking at the Twin Cities campus and the City of Minneapolis. This makes it difficult to capture these single-use plastic bags to recycle them, where they ultimately end up in the trash.

Return to Senate Resolutions Page