Sustainability

Bowdoin Bookstores Reinvent the 3 Rs

Story posted February 26, 2014

As the wave of Bowdoin students returned to campus, students once again took the biannual pilgrimage to the Bowdoin Bookstore and textbook centers for books and school supplies. This time, however, as students ventured into the Bowdoin stores large posters adorned the entrance stating: “Be Green: Brig Your Own Bag.” These posters remind students to reuse bags or bring their own, just one of the many new initiatives that Bowdoin Stores have implemented to reduce waste and promote the stores’ sustainability efforts.

This year the Bowdoin stores implemented a new policy of asking shoppers if they “need a bag” versus if they “want a bag.” It turns out that the amount of shoppers who actually took a bag decreased just by simply framing the question differently. Steps like this can really make a difference in changing how we think about using materials. In addition, Bowdoin stores are pioneering programs such as giving out recycled PET bags to every shopper on Earth Day; this event reminds customers that reusing (more like rePETing—get it?), is a healthy and sustainable habit.

Cindy Breton, the Assistant Director for Bowdoin Stores and the genius behind the initiatives, especially touts an effort that started ten years ago that gave first-years recycled, cloth totes during orientation. “I just love seeing students walk around with their bags they got first year, it really sets the mood for creating a sustainable campus,” says Breton.

Breton is also key in changing the way Bowdoin Stores use leftover materials from shipping. There are huge amounts of boxes, shipping peanuts, and other materials that go in and out of the Bowdoin Stores. In order to reduce waste, they reuse cardboard boxes (especially for book reservation orders) and when sending orders from our stores they reuse lingering packaging material. Each time your grandma orders a new pair of pink and fuzzy Bowdoin socks, the packaging in her box was the same that brought you your 500-page calculus book. Crazy, huh?

Another key component in making Bowdoin Stores sustainable is selling notebooks, planners, and school supplies that are made in the U.S. and comprised of recycled paper. Breton hopes to increase the amount of local stock and supplies that are made of recycled paper and classified as environmentally friendly.

Looking toward the future of sustainability initiatives, Breton commented that “We would love the ideas and help of other organizations, especially BSG and Sustainable Bowdoin; student input and advice is always much appreciated.” The Bowdoin Stores’ waste reductions are a solid example of how College departments are championing the effort to promote sustainability.

So the next time you go to the book store to get the newest and swaggiest of Bowdoin gear, be a savvy shopper and bring your own bag.

"Each time your grandma orders a new pair of pink and fuzzy Bowdoin socks, the packaging in her box was the same that brought you your 500-page calculus book. Crazy, huh?"