Students Produce Eco-Friendly Tote Bag with Funding Provided by Cotton Incorporated

Approximately 200 students at LIM College are using a hands-on learning experience as an opportunity to help the environment.

LIM College’s Fashion Merchandising Department launched the “Cotton Carries New York” project in January after receiving a grant from Cotton Incorporated. The project called for students in CAD (Computer-Aided Design) classes to design a re-usable cotton tote bag that incorporated elements reflecting the “Cotton Carries New York” theme, as well as LIM College and Cotton University™ branding.

The mission of Cotton University™ is to increase and enhance the understanding of cotton textiles for professionals, faculty, and students through education and community. Funding for “Cotton Carries New York” was awarded through a competitive grant presented to LIM College by the Importer Support Program of the Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated.

According to LIM College President Elizabeth S. Marcuse, “This project has allowed our students to apply the skills they learn in class and make a contribution toward limiting the use of plastic bags that harm our environment. We are extremely grateful to Cotton Incorporated for their support.”

A committee of faculty and administrators judged the students’ designs and selected three finalists, all of whom received a $1,500 scholarship award. Their designs were posted online, and in May, LIM students, faculty and staff voted for their favorite. Shontal Hogan, whose entry featured the New York City skyline outlined in LIM College’s colors, secured the most votes and won the opportunity to have her bag produced.

During the summer, students in LIM’s Product Development classes used Shontal’s design to choose an appropriate cotton fabric for the tote and develop “tech packs” to prepare it for production. The tote bag is now being manufactured in a New York City factory. A total of 750 tote bags will be produced. They will be distributed to all the students who participated in the project, in addition to being used to support LIM College’s domestic and international student recruiting efforts.

Says Hilda Alfonso, a professor in LIM College’s Fashion Merchandising Department who supervised the project, “Each year, more than 5 billion plastic bags are used in New York City and it costs the Sanitation Department more than $12.5 million to dispose of them. Discarded plastic bags also pose an ongoing threat to local wildlife. By designing and producing this tote bag, our students are not only learning about the benefits of cotton fibers, they are also helping to curtail the use of plastic bags.”

Pictured (from left): Prof. Nancy Miller, Shontal Hogan and Prof. Hilda Alfonso