What is a wooden nickel you may ask? A wooden nickel is a small token that you receive at the UConn Co-op when you choose not to use a plastic shopping bag to carry your purchases. You can then insert this wooden nickel into one of four bins that each represent a different charity. Every time you do this, five cents are donated to that charity at no cost to you! The charities to choose from are the UConn Campus Sustainability Fund, Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust, World Wildlife Fund, and UConn’s Sandy Hook Memorial Scholarship. The Co-op donates the monetary equivalent of the sum of the tokens in each bin to their respective charities. This program is formally known as the Co-op Cares Bag Program, and has drastically reduced bag use since it was started in 2008. By four months into the program, the Co-op had collected a total of 22,300 wooden nickels in the bins, equaling over $1,100 in donations! Since the cost of a plastic bag is roughly five cents, the Co-op decided to turn that spending around and give back to the community, all while reducing its carbon footprint! Although the driving force of the program is to reduce the consumption of plastic bags and to produce less pollution, you can also participate by donating your own money.
We challenge you to rethink your shopping habits and try out an alternative method of carrying your purchases out of the store. By using reusable bags, backpacks, or even just your good ole’ hands, we can work together to make plastic shopping bags a thing of the past.
-Adrianna, OEP Sustainability Intern