Only in College: A trash bag is your best friend

Students brave rainy conditions outside Gampel Pavilion. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

“It’s raining sideways!” one friend after another said to me on Tuesday as the rain began to pour down, the ground quickly transforming from bright white to a muddy brown. “My umbrella will be useless,” was usually the follow up to which I nodded each time.

“Umbrellas are often useless,” I replied. “Or at least not necessary.”

To this I received one especially quizzical look from my friend as we stood in the library contemplating the pelting rain and heavy wind gusts.  “Well then, what do you suggest we do?”

“Trash bags,” was all I said.

Despite the abundance of suggested packing lists and college-must-haves available online, it seems that every freshman forgets something essential.

Whether it’s a stash of granola bars for late night studying when the dining halls are closed (or when it’s - 30°F and you simply refuse to leave your bed) or a pair of mittens that are actually effective at keeping your hands warm through the wind tunnels of Storrs, it will suddenly become the most needed and necessary item you could possibly own.

For me it was anything waterproof.

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t experienced rain. I had walked to school in the pouring rain many a time and turned up with water-logged homework that my teachers seldom looked too pleased about. I had run cross country meets that turned my sneakers into miniature swimming pools and determined that there was something to be said for waterproof shoes. However, when I arrived at UConn I didn’t have one truly water proof article of outerwear that could protect against the predictable Tuesday rain storms.

I soon, however, found a solution that was more versatile than any rain coat could ever be. It not only served as a rain coat, but rain boots, a backpack liner, a suitcase and a sled for days when the precipitation came in its solid form.  And it was free.

My solution? A trash bag.

It began my freshman year when I found myself in the library the second Tuesday of the semester wearing just a simple skirt and white shirt with the rain pounding down onto the brick between me and the chemistry building. I was concerned about the unfortunate circumstance that happens all too often when I wear white on a rain run but would now occur in front of my 80-person organic chemistry class.

I remember looking left and seeing a trashcan, it was empty. I walked closer. It was even double bagged – perfect! Ten minutes later I turned up in class covered head to toe not in water, but in a black plastic trash bag.

Worried about your textbooks on the way to class? Putting all your books inside a trash bag and then into your backpack is the best solution. Although water may seep through your cloth backpack, nothing is getting through those extra-thick plastic bags they keep in the dorm trash rooms when the rain starts coming down.

I imagine if I walked around my hometown in a trash bag I would get more than one strange look, but in college my trash bag wearing days never seem to cause a fuss. 


Julia Werth is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at julia.werth@uconn.edu.