By Stephanie Eisemann, news staff
At Northeastern, one student has decided to combat unnecessary piles of plastic bottles with a new effort: the NU Day Same Bottle campaign.
Alec Stransky is a third-year economics and environmental studies major and the force behind NU Day Same Bottle, a primarily online campaign.
“The mission is to unify and encourage Northeastern University and the Greater Boston community to refuse single-use plastic bottles, rethink the use of disposable plastics and reflect upon the possible impacts of our daily habits,” Stransky said in an email to The News.
Stransky recommends that students instead use reusable, personal bottles and take advantage of Northeastern’s refill stations.
The campaign is specifically targeted at Northeastern’s student organizations. Stransky challenges them to eliminate plastic water bottles from any events or activities they are involved in.
“It only takes one small ripple to create waves of change,” Stransky said. “I want to see the natural environment and wildlife still intact in the future and be able to live in a world that isn’t coming to an end just because we were too lazy to change our ways.”
Students can join the pledge to eliminate their use of single-use bottles through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All social media handles are “nudaysamebottle.” Student organizations can only join through Facebook.
Maria Schwartz, a sophomore political science major, liked the campaign’s Facebook page.
“I plan to sign it because I think that it’s our responsibility to help stem or reverse the damage that we’ve done and that it can come in really simple, small forms like using reusable water bottles,” she said in an email to The News.
Stransky says his campaign is different than past sustainability campaigns at Northeastern.
“The administration does not support the initiative because plastic bottles make them money and they say they prefer to provide alternatives rather than ban plastic bottles,” he said. “Honestly, making a difficult decision is sometimes the move to make for the greater good – but they obviously have alternative motives. They have no involvement… this is completely student-run.”
So far, seven organizations have signed the pledge: Northeastern University Peer Health Exchange, Northeastern University College Republicans, Delta Tau Delta Fraternity, Pre-student Osteopathic Medical Association, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, the Student Government Association (SGA) and the Husky Environmental Action Team (HEAT).
“The College Republicans decided to get involved with NU Day Same Bottle after organizer Alec Stransky reached out to us directly,” Karli Balco, president of Northeastern College Republicans and a senior finance and political science major, said in an interview over Facebook. “We felt the ask was a small sacrifice for the huge difference it would make both on campus and in the greater global community.”
The SGA and HEAT are also working as outreach groups for the campaign. HEAT Executive Director Alissa Zimmer, a third-year environmental studies and political science major, said that while the group is serving as a sort of “institutional home” for NU Day Same Bottle, Stransky is the leader and catalyst of the campaign.
“HEAT wholeheartedly believes that not only is a clean environment a human right, but so is access to clean, potable water,” said Zimmer in an email to The News. “Bottled water threatens both of those ideals.
Student organizations are not the only supporters of the cause. One World One Ocean, 5 Gyres, Surfrider Foundation, Plastic Free Seas, Bureo and Indosole are all organizations behind the endeavor. Stransky was inspired by Bureo, a company run in part by an NU alumnus, when he thought of and began the campaign after the spring co-op cycle in July.
“Bureo…extracts discarded fishing nets out of the ocean and makes products out of them such as skateboards and sunglasses,” he said. “They were a huge inspiration because the issue of fishing nets damaging marine ecosystems is a global issue, but they’re focusing on a small geographic area. Similar to how this campaign is, in order to make large change you need to start small and focused first.”
Stransky listed three goals for his work. His first goal, he explained, is to bring attention to modern consumer society and the reality that it is not sustainable. The second goal is to put the power not in Northeastern’s environmental policies but in citizen action and the third was to challenge students – often focused on the professional world – to look more closely at their habits and actions.
That includes more than just purchasing a few Poland Spring cases.
“The pledge is just supposed to provide initial exposure,” Stransky said. “It’s a stepping stone to something greater.”
While the campaign will wrap up late this month or in early October, Stansky envisions it as an ongoing effort with an annual resurgence.
“This whole idea is driven because of a lack of education about our environmental impacts,” Stransky said. “We’re more worried about the economy, convenience and human security rather than our natural resources on which we depend for survival. This should be something we learn when we’re young along with the ABCs.”
Photo by Scotty Schenck