That is the number of plastic bottles sold at the Northampton Food Court last year alone. One group of students seeks to change this policy and eliminate the use of non-biodegradable food containers and reduce the amount of plastic bottles and their consumption.
Known as the “Ban The Bottle” campaign, students Rachel Cimera, Aaron Rosengarten, Phyllis Freeman, Jose Galarza, Emily Gibson, Nathan Solosky, Tyrae McDuffie and Melissa Hernandez are behind this evolutionary movement. Director of Student Life Frank Pologruto advises this group.
The group strives to eliminate non-biodegradable containers at all of Northampton’s dining locations by next fall, as well as reduce the amount of plastic items given out within Northampton’s Food Court.
The campaign already received a unanimous approval from the Sustainability Committee and the College Life Committee.
Aaron Rosengarten, a fifth-semester political science major and one of the founders of the initiative says that the campaign is designed to drastically change the amount of plastic consumption on campus.
“When we presented it to the College Life Committee, there were 40 people in the meeting to show support for us,” Rosengarten said.
“We want to push the initiative of reducing plastics on campus,” he said. “Our goal is to reduce plastic consumption, hopefully beginning in Fall (2015). We are looking at reducing plastic consumption by 50% in three years and by 80% in five years.”
The campaign has already received a wide amount of support from various clubs and organizations around campus, including the Student Senate, Honors Club and Phi Theta Kappa. The plan, according to Rosengarten, is to start small and work their way up.
“We’re going to start with the food court,” he said. “Start small, and expand bigger.”
The student-led committee has taken several field trips to Muhlenberg College in Allentown to study how they have completely changed their green policy through the reduction of plastic on campus. Sodexo, the company in charge of food services on campus, explained that NCC is behind other campuses in terms of their green policies.
Jose Galarza, Biological Science, explained that this long process began over the past summer.
“We met once a week over the summer to plan everything,” Galarza said. “This is a student-led and student-run committee.”
He also mentioned how Northampton’s lack of a green policy conflicts with its position and reputation as a leader of the community.
“Northampton is seen as being a college full of leaders,” Galarza said. “How are we going to be seen as leaders if we’re staying behind in our green policies?”
One replacement that the committee would like to implement, request and promote in the food court is the use of reusable china, silverware, bowls and glasswares.
Also, the committee plans to implement standard water and ice stations in the food court.
They also plan to implement the availability of reusable bottles for student orientation in August of next year.
In order to make this plan work, the group plans to meet with President Mark Erickson in hopes of obtaining a grant to help pay for these changes.
“We’re in the process of filling out a grant proposal for $20,000,” Rosengarten said.
If this new policy is adopted, Northampton would become the first community college in the area to change its green policy. If they get the new policy approved at the main campus, they will turn their attentions to the Monroe campus next.
Galarza hopes that this mission does not fade away and die the moment they leave Northampton. They plan to expand it to the next generation of students.
“We hope that other students come along after we graduate and continue to improve the initiative and build upon what we’ve started,” Galarza stated.