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Colorado State University implements the “Leave the Plastic Plant a Tree” campaign

The CSU Bookstore is phasing out of plastic bag use with the new “Leave the Plastic Plant a Tree” campaign beginning the week of Aug. 25. (Photo credit: Hannah Hemperly)

In response to a student poll, Colorado State University is phasing out the one-time use of plastic bags and water bottles.

This semester the Student Sustainability Center and Graduate Student Council have joined forces to launch a campaign known as “Leave the Plastic Plant a Tree.”

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The CSU Bookstore has agreed to donate five cents to planting trees on campus for every plastic bag that students opt out of taking.

Jeff Cook, chair of the Green Initiatives Committee within GSC, teamed up with SSC head Jacob Kimiecik in the spring to organize the campaign.

“We were trying to look for projects that we could implement on campus,” Cook said. “So, we did a poll on environmental sustainability, and we put that out through ASCSU.”

A poll was conducted by ASCSU in the spring of 2014 asking students if they would support a phase out of plastic bags and water bottles on campus – 73 percent of respondents supported the idea.

This week, students who opt out of taking a plastic bag will receive a wooden coin to put into the bucket near the bookstore exit, allowing students to see their contribution.

Customer Service Student Manager Darius Kubicek has noticed a high participation rate from students.

“A lot of students will come in and buy books and half the time they don’t actually get a bag so we just give them the coin anyways,” Kubicek said. “So it’s not like they’re supporting it – they’re just getting the coin and donating it anyways.”

Cook estimates that each tree will cost $300 and the campaign allows for up to $1,500 to be donated.

The committee plans to begin planting Colorado native trees on the corner of Laurel and College in a critical mass.

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“I think it is a good idea because it’s an easy way for the school to give back to the campus and to make it a better place,” said Devin Smith, a junior communications major. “When really it doesn’t take much more for a student to put your books in your backpack instead of carrying it.”

John Perry, owner of the bookstore, has agreed to keep the program running as long as students respond positively and play their part.

“If we aren’t getting student buy-in or participation then that’s a problem for us,” Cook said. “Hopefully the students respond positively and we can plant some trees.”

After the first couple months the committee will begin to better understand student response, which will allow them to move forward with other plastic reduction plans.

“Everyone likes to have something on campus that they can look back on, so now you can come back and see how your tree is doing,” Cook said.

Collegian Reporter Veronica Baas can be reached at news@collegian.com and on Twitter @vcbaas.

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