Eckerd is now operating its campus life by requiring students to wear masks as well as reducing and limiting the sustainable resources in campus cafeterias in hopes to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the campus.
Students no longer have access to yellow bikes, white bikes or the Uhaul car share program on Eckerd’s campus in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Cafe Bon Appetit has also switched to disposable cutlery and dishware, stating on their website and in an email that the disposables are eco-friendly but have not given details about what the containers are made of or how environmentally friendly they are.
According to the Bon Appetit Management Company, all food options are made to-go, even the drinks. The Main Cafeteria and the CEC Cafeteria have no indoor seating with limited outdoor socially-distanced seating, so most students are opting for grab-and-go meals. The food is now placed in paper containers, the drinks in plastic or cans and the utensils are plastic.
“Sustainability in the caf is pretty much non-existent, but I understand why they have made the changes they have,” senior Jess Garcia said.
Eckerd students used to be heavily encouraged to use their reusable cups on campus, but are no longer allowed to use these items in the cafeterias.
“I carry around reusable utensils, so I don’t use as much plastic and I recycle all that I can from the caf,” Garcia said.
As another effort to reduce the spread of the virus, the school has made the decision to remove the yellow and white bikes on campus.
“I think yellow bikes should be around, especially for the students who live all the way in Sigma and West Lodge and have classes in Galbraith,” Garcia said. “Yellow bikes were and still are a great system for students to utilize.”
According to Director of Sustainability Evan Bollier, the school has no way of sanitizing every single bicycle between student use, so they are temporarily suspending the whole bicycle program.
“However, if students email me, I can unlock the bike shop for them to be let in to do DIY repairs if it's minor: i.e. adding air to tires, putting WD40 on their chains,” Bollier said in an email.
Students are still able to use the bike shop to do minor repairs to their personal bicycles, but no students are currently employed in the shop, which is usually a federal work study job position.
According to Bollier, the Uhaul car share program decided to shut itself down in February 2020 due to money loss and is still in the process of removing its cars from the 40-plus locations, not including Eckerd whose cars have already been removed.
Students without vehicles used to have a few options available to get off campus, but are now limited to rides with friends, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit or using Ubers or other forms of paid transportation.
“We’re actively looking for replacement programs but have not found a viable program yet,” Bollier said.
The whole world has taken a step back from sustainability because of the need for disposable masks, sanitizing wipes and the required single-use items.
“I think now it’s up to the student to do as much as they can to be sustainable,” Garcia said.