Possible ways to mitigate consumption of plastic on campus

Luke Buckovich, Contributing Writer

As per school policy, every night that any fraternity wants to host an event they must provide chips and water for their guests as a precaution to help potentially intoxicated guests.

As a member of Greek Life, I have noticed just how negatively impactful this policy is on the environment.

If a fraternity wants to hold a social event, they must buy five cases of water, each containing forty plastic bottles, and five party bags of chips, each of which contains 18 smaller bags.

That means that for one social event, a fraternity buys 200 plastic bottles of water as well as 90 bags of chips.

This means that one weekend of social events for one fraternity produces 400 bottles of water and 180 non-biodegradable chip bags.

Multiplying this by six social fraternities and one weekend produces 2,400 bottles and 540 bags.

10 weeks per term, call eight of them social, and that’s 19,200 bottles and 4,320 bags of chips each term.

Three terms per year means 57,600 bottles of water and 12,960 bags of chips.

The difficulty in handling this issue lies in the fact that the policy is completely fair. Having measures on hand that can help intoxicated guests is a necessity, so the question certainly isn’t if the policy should stand, but rather how we can lessen the output of waste.

The argument could be made that brothers need to be more vigilant about guests placing bottles in recycling bins rather than trash bins, but that’s a little unrealistic.

Trying to police a crowded room to make sure each person is putting the bottles into the right bin is too difficult a task.

Also, even if it ends up in the right bin, the trash and recycling bins have the same clear bags.

When the bins are emptied, the bags go behind the house to be taken by facilities, with no indication which is recycling or trash, so they likely end up going to the same place.

The difficulty in this is that counter measures are necessary and the onus doesn’t fall on the fraternities or the guests and it all ends up in the same place anyways.

The most basic first step going forward is to get different colored bags so that facilities know which ones to take to recycling and fraternities have confidence that the recycling is going to the right place.

A possible larger step could be incentivizing recycling through weighing bags and seeing which house can recycle the most.

Having the reward be something like points to the Chapter of Excellence award could really help to lessen the impact that this policy has.