BAR HARBOR — College of the Atlantic is the first post-secondary school in the nation to sign on to a pledge to eliminate all single-use disposable plastics from campus.
Students, staff, and faculty unanimously supported signing the pledge at an All College Meeting following months of legwork and planning by student-led groups.
“The Break Free From Plastic campus pledge will be an important keystone in College of the Atlantic’s commitment to diverting 90 percent of campus-associated discarded resources from landfill and incineration by 2025,” said Eleanor White, a member of the Campus Committee for Sustainability.
This initiative was led by the student climate justice group Earth in Brackets and supported by the Post Landfill Action Network (PLAN).
The Break Free From Plastic campus pledge and toolkit specifically addresses accessibility and inclusivity concerns and generates a framework for colleges and other institutions to develop long-term systemic solutions to issues around waste and disposable consumption.
“It’s become clear to many people by now that plastics are one of humanity’s ‘wicked problems,’” COA president Darron Collins said, “and while the actions of one small college aren’t going to solve that problem, what we are doing with the signing of this pledge is a very real start — one we hope that other schools will take notice of and consider following along.”
PLAN is a non-profit that cultivates, educates, and inspires student leaders to tackle issues around waste and unsustainable systems on their campus. The campus pledge was built in coalition with the international Break Free From Plastic Movement and can be found on PLAN’s website among many other tools and resources to assist students looking to get involved in the student led zero waste movement.
“By signing PLAN’s Break Free from Plastic pledge, we help to commit College of the Atlantic to the discarded resource policies that we have in place, and we join a growing network of campuses that are moving away from single-use plastics,” said Annamae Sheehan of Earth in Brackets.
Earth in Brackets, or [Earth], started as a logo developed by a group of College of the Atlantic students preparing to attend the U.N. Climate Negotiations in Nairobi in 2006.
“Brackets are used during international negotiations to denote text that is controversial or subject to removal,” a statement from the group states. “If countries can’t agree, the bracketed text is removed, and thus the earth is now in brackets. Earth in Brackets members believe this can only be addressed through international cooperation.”