Environmentalism at JCU: Towards a Plastic-free Campus

John Cabot University took its first steps toward reducing plastic usage by distributing aluminum water bottles to all members of the community on Thursday, October 3. Plastic cups are no longer available at the drinking fountains of our campuses. The initiative was promoted by JCU’s environmental club, Grassroots and sponsored by President Franco Pavoncello.

JCU's Water Bottle distributed by Grassroots

JCU’s Water Bottle

How did this initiative come about?
Pablo Sanchez Benitez Toledo (Grassroots Vice President):
Last semester we discussed ways to get rid of the plastic cups by the water fountains across campuses, as well the possibility of reducing plastic in the cafeteria. We considered the financial aspect, and we compared how much it would cost to purchase reusable bottles instead of plastic cups. The reusable bottles were finally approved, and today there was a huge turnout of students excited about this project. This was a great achievement, and we will continue to work for a plastic-free JCU.

Franco Pavoncello (JCU President): When the plastic issue was brought to my attention, I understood students’ concerns and launched the idea of buying 8000 reusable water bottles with the JCU logo on them. We will distribute them to future students as well, so that they will know from the start that JCU cares about the environment.

What’s the biggest concern about the environment today?
We have excessive pollution, which is affecting the environment and people. I think that we need to address the problems that we can solve as a university and as a community. If we bring change locally, we might be able to transmit it to a global scale.

Pavel Aminov (Grassroots Event Planner): Many American universities in Europe have already declared a state of emergency regarding climate change, and I think that should be our next step. That’s something we should talk about, and try to raise awareness among students. We would like to bring experts and scientists to talk at JCU, because many people are not aware of what’s happening.

President Franco Pavoncello, Pablo Sanchez, and Pavel Aminov (Grassroots)

From left: President Franco Pavoncello, Pablo Sanchez, and Pavel Aminov

Pavoncello: Plastic pollution is out of hand. Plastic is filling the seas, going down the food chain and killing species. I think it was important for John Cabot to give a sign that we consider this an important problem, and one way of solving it is to use less plastic, especially the kind that cannot be recycled. I think that stopping the use of plastic cups and using portable water bottles is a concrete way to help students understand that something can be done.

What are the plans for the future?
We’re looking at the possibility of eliminating single-use plastic in the cafeteria.

Pavoncello: Certainly, we can transition to ecological paper cups in the cafeteria. I thank the Grassroots club for its commitment to making JCU a more eco-friendly environment.