The UNF Bookstore is catching on to the green movement diminishing its plastic bag dispersal and providing cloth bags for students.
Vince Smyth, director of auxiliary services, said the blue cloth bags are already in use and bookstore employees are giving them to incoming freshmen at their orientation. For current students, these cloth bags are on sale at the bookstore for 99 cents.
The bookstore is installing a plastic bin for students to recycle their old cloth bags when they are no longer needed, Smyth said. This should come in handy for graduates who may not want to keep their reusable bags and for students who need an extra bag at the checkout counter. All bags in the recycle bin will be free for students.
The previous system — bagging purchased items in plastic bags, which was free for students — is no longer in effect, so students must purchase cloth bags. However, Smyth said this new system with reusable bags will prove to be more cost-efficient and better for the environment.
The bookstore purchased and used over 30,000 plastic bags last year alone, said Bookstore Manager Steve Moreau. While the cloth bags are four times more expensive than the plastic bags previously used, Moreau said the cost of the cloth bags will have no affect at all on student fees.
The bookstore started selling the cloth bags June 13. All plastic bags the bookstore had left are being transported to other campuses, Moreau said.
The idea of using reusable cloth bags at the bookstore was first discussed in a meeting of the environmental committee, a sub-unit of the UNF Sustainability Committee.
Dr. Anthony Rossi, professor in the UNF Biology Department, first brought up the idea of using the recyclable bags at the bookstore and other places around campus. Rossi wanted to produce a green and more sustainable environment on campus, he said.
However, there are very few other places that give out bags with purchases, which makes the bookstore the only place where the switch to cloth would make a difference.
Although UNF is the first college campus in Florida to use the cloth bags instead of plastic, other colleges are catching on to the idea, including the University of Florida.
While the move to cloth may seem ingenious to some, the concept doesn’t thrill others — like Emily Clemons, an UNF English senior.
“I may be different,” Clemons said, “but I only go to the bookstore about twice a semester, and I usually don’t even get a bag because I have a backpack.”
While she thought the concept of reusable bags in general was a great idea, she thought the price was too steep for the bag.
Another student was not concerned about the new bags at all.
“I think there are bigger issues at UNF, rather than worrying about reusable bags at the UNF bookstore,” said Lake Ray, a UNF political science student.
Ray said such issues included lowering the cost of parking and using parking fees strictly for parking projects.
While Ray shops at the bookstore about every two weeks, he rarely uses a bag.
UNF alumna Amy Inman loves the idea of reusable bags.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction to be eco-responsible,” Inman said. “You never know — maybe in the future they can eliminate the need for paper books altogether.”