Even though the weather is warming and the snow is long gone, the South Oval is set to evoke the spirit of the holidays with carefully draped garlands made of an unconventional material — plastic bags.
Several student organizations are set to string garlands on Friday in an effort to raise awareness about the effect paper and plastic bags have on the environment.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., students from Project Green OSU, Students for Recycling, the Undergraduate Student Government Sustainability Committee, the Society of Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability, along with Students for a Sustainable Campus will be hanging chains of plastic bags along lamp posts on the South Oval.
Erin Mundorf, the vice president of SSC and a third-year in environmental engineering, said each chain will hold 500 plastic bags, which represents the average amount of bags a person uses per year.
SSC went door-to-door for the past semester collecting bags, hoping students will realize the impact they have on the environment. In addition to collecting bags, they were collecting signatures for a petition that would add a 10-cent fee for every paper or plastic bag customers used at a store in Columbus, Mundorf said.
“I think you need to make visual impacts, like our chain displays, to really show people what their effects are,” Mundorf said. “When they get rid of their bags, they don’t see them in landfills, but if you put it right in front of their face in a long chain, ‘This is your impact every year,’ that makes it much simpler for people to understand and make a change.”
The students’ petition aligns with part of Mayor Michael Coleman’s 2015 Columbus Green Community Plan — Green Memo III.
One objective of the plan is to “reduce litter waste to 50 percent below state average or less than 238 pounds per road mile over the next five years,” with one solution being to “incentivize use of reusable bags and consider a surcharge or ban on single-use bags,” according to the “Waste Reduction” section of the memo.
Tarek Akkari, USG Sustainability Deputy Director and a fourth-year in environmental policy and decision making, said he hopes students will see the bags and wonder what they are there for.
“It’s important to me because I don’t think people realize how many bags that they use over the semester,” Akkari said. “It’s just incredible how many bags people have stuffed under their sinks.”
The student organizations have presented their petition to Mayor Coleman’s Green Team, who stated that 600 signatures would show community support, Mudorf said. The petition has about 700 signatures currently, but they are going to keep searching for supporters, she added.
“We live in a way right now that is destroying the planet, that will make it impossible for future generations to live on the planet, and we need to recognize that and change how we live in order to allow people and others animals to continue to live on Earth,” she said.