If you had lunch or coffee in Paradise Palms last week, you may have noticed a large banner that states “Bring Your Own Bag.” Every door at Paradise Palms also has a new sticker proudly claiming that the vendors inside have all committed to going plastic bag free. This campaign is giving a whole new meaning to BYOB.
PLASTIC BAG BAN
With Hawai‘i being the first state in the country to ban the use of plastic bags at grocery stores and restaurants, our campus is a step ahead in preparing vendors for the ban that goes into effect in 2015 for O‘ahu. All other islands have already implemented this policy. On Big Island, a Times Supermarket has huge signs at the entrances asking residents “Did you remember to bring your reusable bag?” Around the parking lot, you see dozens of carts, each filled with cloth bags of all colors. The whole community seems to be on board with the ban that lightens up the parking lot and reminds each and every person of his or her responsibility to consider the environment. With more and more cities passing bans and regulations on the rampant use of plastic bags, there may be hope to shift our culture so that we may live more mindfully.
There seems to be a buzz about sustainability around the world, and this is clearly the case on our campus as well. The managers at Food Services helped pass the recent ban on Styrofoam products at dining locations, and they have taken a bold step to convince vendors to stop carrying plastic bags.
“Food Services and our vendors understand the importance of sustainability, especially being that we are an island and our space and resources are finite,” said Food Services assistant manager Anoilana Aga. “We understand that we still may have a long way to go as far as being completely sustainable. We have plans, based on customer suggestions and comments, on how we want to improve our practices and how we can become better stewards of the land. We recognize that change is always difficult, not just from the vendor’s perspective but also from the consumer’s perspective. However, we are hoping that our approach can be educational for our whole campus community; from the food vendors all the way to the mainstream consumers.”
All but one mobile vendor has agreed to this movement toward sustainability. As Sodexo is under separate jurisdiction from Food Services, the Campus Center cafeteria may still carry plastic bags this year.
But why should we wait until 2015? Not only are these campaigns the right thing to do, but it’s clear now that it’s the smart thing to do. With plastic bags adding unnecessary costs for vendors and the effects of the use of plastic bags from being littered or flying around our campus, it’s inevitable that we consider alternative lifestyle choices. Something as simple as bringing your own bottle or mug to get your daily coffee or smoothie can make a big impact, especially when done collectively. It’s time to recognize that our short-term conveniences are not worth the long-term consequences.
To encourage students to join the BYOB campaign, representatives from Food Services have been handing out free reusable bags this week to everyone passing through Paradise Palms. Remember that the momentum is building, and each and every one of us can be part of this movement to redefine BYOB.