In Massachusetts, a new piece of legislation effectively banned single-use plastic bottles across the entire state in the summer of 2023. This transformative move, driven by a growing awareness of the devastating impact of plastic pollution, was met with a mixed reaction but was highlighted by a determination to make the transition as smooth as possible.
A little over a year ago, Merrimack College’s campus was ahead of the curve. The community was to cease single-use plastic bottle usage to minimize the impact on our own environments and the surrounding area. The student body was mixed with opinions on the matter, some even unaware of the change. A year after the ban, most students have fully adjusted to the new lifestyle of an eco-friendly campus.
Drew Dollinger, a member of the student government body at Merrimack College is a member of the campus infrastructure and environmental committee.
“The biggest improvement has been the schools’ consciousness about our role in regards to single-use plastics.” He said.
One thing he mentioned about a past involvement with SGA was their events. SGA hosts events like “Pizza with the President” where students can meet and socialize. They used to give out single-use plastic bottles at these events. Now, they offer water stations and reusable water bottles.
Drew also mentioned that last year SGA gave out free reusable water bottles to students and faculty to spread awareness of the new campus-wide policy. He said the impact of such a policy was drastic.
“The weight of single-use plastics sent off campus to recycling centers has dropped exponentially in only one semester,” Dollinger said.
After interviewing a few students, the message of a ban on plastic bottles was mostly a surprise. Only one student I spoke with was aware of the college’s effort to promote a clean campus. Michael Vital, 24’ was one of the students who was unaware of the campus-wide ban.
“I guess they did a great job at transitioning into that, since I never noticed,” Vital said.
When asked about the personal effect Vital also mentioned, “I was already reusing my own water bottle… The ban is definitely the smartest move if you care about the environment and limiting waste”.
Jacob Briere, 24’ had a polar opposite approach to the situation.
Briere said “I think that plastic bottles are one of the most wasteful items anyone can have. Eliminating them on our campus made a difference to the community not just on campus but in the surrounding area as well”.
After meeting with students and SGA committee members, there’s a collective thought that Merrimack has transformed our campus for the better. They not only have an environmental
goal but are teaching students and faculty to think green and be less wasteful. While some students may have been unaware of the change, it can be viewed as a credit to the execution of their new policy.