Eckerd College is looking to set a new standard for schools across the state of Florida. On November 5, Eckerd College President Donald Eastman III signed a pledge that will prohibit the purchase of most nonessential single-use plastics using College funds, an initiative spearheaded by Eckerd College Reduce Single-Use, a two-year research project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program, in collaboration with students affiliated with the Post-Landfill Action Network’s Break Free From Plastic campaign.
“When we talk about developing students into thoughtful, environmentally aware citizens, stewardship is a part of that equation,” said Eastman, who has championed sustainability during his 19-year tenure. “This pledge is a commitment from the College to be the example of what practical stewardship of our resources should resemble.”
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St. Pete breaking free from plastic
This pledge seems to be in line with a philosophy that permeates many small businesses in the Sunshine City. Black Crow Coffee became the state’s first zero waste coffee shop. You can buy all of your daily essentials at zero waste shops like The Refillery and Sans Market. The Indie Flea has also made strides to remove all single use plastics from its pop up markets in St. Pete and Tampa.
This sweeping pledge is set to be the strictest purchasing guideline enacted in the nation, according to a release from Eckerd College. It officially takes effect on January 1, 2020.
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What this means for students and staff
So, what does it mean for students and staff on campus?
Those on campus will be prohibited from using any of the College budget to buy nonessential, single-use plastics such as single-serve beverage bottles, plates, utensils, cups, shopping bags, hot-beverage packets in plastic, plastic shipping and packing materials, balloons, glow sticks, glitter and more.
Eckerd College officials hope to work with third party vendors to further reduce nonessential plastics provided on campus and to invest in education and resources to help reduce plastic consumption on Eckerd’s campus and in neighboring communities.
“This is a huge step for Eckerd College toward becoming a leader in sustainability,” said Shannon Gowans, Ph.D., a professor of biology and marine science at Eckerd and one of the principal investigators for the Reduce Single-Use project. “When institutional leadership says the ‘plastic problem’ is a significant priority, that is when real change can begin to take shape.”
How we end the day at Eckerd College.Photo: Mariah Kyzer '23
Protecting the Sunshine City’s environment
Plastic pollution is a major cause for concern as more scholarly research shows the environmental fallout from unrecycled plastics growing landfills and microplastics and waste destroying our marine environments.
Eckerd is a private college located on the waterfront in St. Petersburg, Florida at 4200 54th Avenue South.
Want to do more to help the Burg’s natural beauty? Consider volunteering with the Suncoast Surfrider Foundation. The organization is always looking for volunteers to help with its beach cleans. If you’re a small business owner in St. Pete or Tampa, we encourage you to consider joining the No Straws St. Pete campaign.