As a freshman living on West Campus, when Nola Peshkin stopped by District Market to pick up food or other items she was often surprised by the behavior of her fellow shoppers.
"Growing up my family was really adamant about always bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but when I came to UW I was just really surprised and disappointed in the number of people who would use paper bags when it didn't seem necessary," Peshkin said.
As this year's executive director of Students Expressing Environmental Dedication (SEED), Peshkin wanted to find a way to encourage shoppers to cut down on single-use bags. So this winter, SEED is partnering with Housing & Food Services and District Market to implement the "Tote Bag or No Bag" reward program.
Anyone who shops at District Market during Winter quarter can get a stamp each time they bring a reusable bag or don't use a bag for their purchase. Fully stamped cards can be redeemed for a free 12-ounce drink at the Husky Grind in District Market.
"We hope the program will reduce the number of paper bags used at District Market and encourage shoppers to really think about what they actually need versus what is convenient," Peshkin said. "Living a more sustainable lifestyle isn't always easy, but we believe it's so necessary, and we hope this project will encourage others to think the same."
This quarter is being used as a trial period for the program. Peshkin hopes the program will continue and even expand in the future.
To help promote the program, SEED is hosting an event at Steven's Court on Feb. 21 making tote bags out of old T-shirts. Participants who bring their own shirt can also get a stamp on their Tote Bag or No Bag card.
The reusable bag project is just one of the initiatives SEED has been working on this year. The group also provides compost bins to students living on campus, and is working to help standardize composting in all campus residence halls.
Students interested in joining SEED are welcome to come to the group's weekly meetings every Thursday in Poplar 106 from 5:30-6:30 p.m.