A proposed shift to compostable, biodegradable trash bags was the winning “Big Green Idea” in a Northern Michigan University contest seeking input on creating a more sustainable campus. Andrea Dupras, a junior mechanical engineering technology major from Marquette, received an iPod Touch for her suggestion. “I did some Internet research and gathered some ideas,” said Dupras. “This seemed like the most feasible idea and the easiest to implement. I work in an office on campus and I see the custodians changing out plastic bags. With all the bags used on campus each day, it just seemed that there might be options that are better for the environment. My step-mom uses biodegradable bags, so I was familiar with them.” Dupras said she found different brands online that are plant-based and do not use polyethylene in the production process. The contest was sponsored by a committee charged with analyzing sustainability efforts at NMU and recommending additional steps toward that purpose. Sustainability was one of three action projects identified by NMU this year as part of its commitment to the Academic Quality Improvement Program. AQIP provides an alternative process for universities to maintain their accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission, with an emphasis on continuous quality improvement. According to committee chair Michael Broadway, the Big Green Idea submissions were judged on their “impact, feasibility and originality.” The facilities department is exploring the possibility of biodegradable bags. Staff members are obtaining samples and pricing from vendors.