About 30 UNC students met over Zoom on Sunday afternoon to discuss one thing: plastic.
Members of UNC’s chapter of the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group attended the meeting, where they discussed the University’s use of plastic products and impact on the environment. This semester, the organization seeks to encourage UNC to eliminate single-use plastics.
NCPIRG is an activist group that advocates for “a healthier, safer world in which we’re freer to pursue our own individual well-being and the common good," according to its website. NCPIRG is a member of the larger organization PIRG, a federation of state-level activist groups.
“Our mission is to create the future that young people want to see,” Katie Craig, the organizing director for NCPIRG Students and UNC’s NCPIRG campus coordinator, said. “We want to create a greener, healthier, more meaningful future by training and organizing young folks in how to work on public interest.”
Sarah Jefcoat, a member of UNC's chapter, said that while students working with NCPIRG have different simultaneous campaigns — such as voter registration and college affordability — the organization chooses one project to focus on each semester.
“This semester, our main campaign is the campus sustainability campaign,” Jefcoat said.
Jefcoat is the grasstops coordinator of the Campus Sustainability Project, meaning she is in charge of reaching out to campus administration and the local community for the project. This semester, UNC's chapter of NCPIRG aims to get the University to sign the Post-Landfill Action Network’s #BreakFreeFromPlastic Campus Pledge.
The pledge would commit the University to establishing a task force dedicated to eliminating single-use plastics on-campus and replacing them with reusable alternatives.
“The University has been working with NCPIRG for several months and we have had a series of meetings about single use plastics," Mike Piehler, chief sustainability officer and special assistant to the Chancellor for sustainability, said in a statement. "NCPIRG has provided us with perspective from their experiences with other universities throughout the country."