On Tuesday, Nov. 5, President of Eckerd Donald R. Eastman III signed a pledge to ban the use of Eckerd’s funds for the purchase of unnecessary single-use plastic items beginning January 2020. This makes Eckerd the first in the nation to enforce such a plan.
The Reduce Single-Use Project and Eckerd’s Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) developed a new way to encourage the college’s administration and students to find alternatives to plastic.
“I really think that this is a physical statement of our commitment to sustainability for the future,” senior and Reduce Single-Use Project Intern Trish Schranck said.
On Wednesday, Nov. 13, ECOS President Bailey Cross also signed the pledge at the Used Once, Lasts Forever Art Show hosted by the Reduce Single-Use project. This means all organizations affiliated with ECOS, including clubs, cannot purchase single-use plastic items with ECOS funds.
“I am so excited and also just incredibly honored to be a part of this,” Cross said. “I really see this as a huge and positive step that we're making as an institution. Even if it is relative to the situation we're in environmentally, even if it is a small step, I still think it's big for us and I'm really proud.”
PIRG members sophomore Alex Gordan and junior Will Shedden brought the pledge to the Reduce Single-Use team’s attention from a draft by Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). PLAN’s pledge provided a basis for the pledge, and after many revisions, it has finally been signed.
“This is something that I've been working on since about January 2019 and spring semester, so it doesn't even feel real. But it's been signed and being in that room was absolutely incredible,” Gordan said.
The Office of Sustainability and the Reduce Single-Use Project were thrilled to collaborate and revise the plan to fit Eckerd’s needs.
“It was perfect synergy to start working together on this,” Amy Siuda, professor of marine science and biology and co-head of Reduce Single-Use team, said. “To be able to help bring this change to Eckerd’s campus, it's really exciting to be a part of that effort.”
The pledge has control over only Eckerd-affiliated organizations, so it does not include Starbucks, Barnes and Noble or Bon Appetit, but it does open up the conversation. Students will see most of a difference through Student Affairs and Campus Activities.
“Glitter, and balloons and things like zip ties all have alternatives we will hopefully start seeing those reusable alternatives a lot more, which I think will be really cool because not many people can say they go to a school that uses reusable zip ties,” Gordan said.