Purple canvas bags to provide eco-friendly alternative to paper or plastic

Canvas is in. Plastic and paper are out. Students will be able to say no to paper and plastic bags soon through the Purple Bag Program, a new green initiative created by the sociology and anthropology departments.

Sociology professor Patrick Kinkade said he hopes to distribute eco-friendly canvas bags to replace plastic or paper by next semester. The bag, which will replace the capacity of about three to four plastic bags, is reusable, 100 percent recyclable, made from recyclable materials and water-repellent. In addition, the materials used to make the bag are non-toxic, non-corrosive and non-allergenic with a life span of about two years, Kinkade said. The sociology department will give away 600 to 1,000 bags to students for free, and students will be able to buy additional bags from a local retailer, he said.

Plastic bags are not readily biodegradable, taking 400 to 1,000 years to break down, and paper bags take a lot of energy to decompose, Kinkade said.

“Plastic bags are an environmental disaster and paper is no better,” Kinkade said. “We can no longer afford to exploit the environment as we have been. We simply can’t.”

Canvas is an easy solution, Kinkade said. Students can make a huge difference in the environment if they use them consciously, but they will have to relearn their daily habits, he said.

Ellen Schwaller, a senior environmental science major, education chair of Adduco Viridis, an environmental club on campus, and canvas bag user, said students must change their mindset if they want to make a difference.

Schwaller said TCU has started different initiatives, but it takes time for them to develop. If the university shares this initiative as a value, students will follow and embrace the same values.

The Green Bag Co., which sells a variety of eco-friendly bags around the world to organizations, such as the American Red Cross, Sea World and Tupperware, will manufacture the canvas bags for the program, Kinkade said. The company’s factory is pristine, all the practices of the company are up to international standards and the people who work there are being compensated appropriately, he said. Buying the bags will help other environmental efforts around the world because part of Green Bag Co.’s profits will go toward other green initiatives.

“The bag is created in a completely responsible way,” Kinkade said. “It is not only an environmentally responsible company, it is a socially responsible company.”

Andrew Schoolmaster, dean of AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said he endorses the new program because it makes sense for the students and the university. Sustainability is a complex issue, and the sociology, criminal justice and anthropology departments are doing a good job to address the issue across a number of fronts, Schoolmaster said.

The design of the bag will be decided through a student competition. Students can submit their hard copy designs for the competition from March 10 to April 10 to the sociology department. They will be able to vote for the top three designs at the undergraduate fair, Kinkade said. The contest winner, who will be decided by a celebrity panel of three judges, will earn a cash prize.