The chances are high that if you are reading this article, I am preaching to the choir about minimizing your use of plastic. We do know that the choir needs to step up its work, since both our state and federal governments are reducing funding in most aspects of environmental protection. A state like Maine that depends largely on the ocean for its survival should be at the forefront of commitment. We need to renew and expand our personal commitment, at the least, and encourage our family, friends, and others with our knowledge and practices.
I will not go into detail about how plastic is hurting our planet because most of you know that the earth can’t deal with plastic, which never entirely goes away. Recycling is better than not, but again, plastic never goes away. Here’s one fact that dismayed me recently: plastic in the ocean now outnumbers sea life six to one, as mentioned in the video “Open Your Eyes,” by the Plastic Pollution Coalition.
This is my suggested list of plastics that one can limit or stop using entirely, gleaned from many publications:
1. Single-use water bottles: Keep a glass or metal water bottle in your refrigerator and car ready to grab.
2. Straws: Buy a metal one if you must use one.
3. Single-use coffee cups (most are plastic-lined): Keep a driving mug in your car.
4. Leftover containers from restaurants: Many restaurants are moving to cardboard, but take a reusable one with you if you’re not sure.
5. The overwrap film around quantity goods and meats and vegetables: Keep pushing markets to offer alternatives.
6. Cutlery: You can figure this one out.
7. Bags over delivered newspapers and dry cleaning: Just decline them. If you find yourself with some of this, or No. 6 plastic, at least take it to Hannaford Supermarket for true recycling rather than to the transfer station, where it gets bundled for landfill.
8. Plastic containers at grocery stores: If you look carefully, there are many products, especially liquids, that are sold in glass as well as plastic.
9. Ask yourself if there is a possible alternative every time you consider buying something made of plastic, such as children’s toys or storage containers.
10. Single-use shopping bags: Be part of the push to create an anti-bag ordinance in Damariscotta. You might call the Damariscotta town office to add your support: 563-5168 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Always keep reusable bags in your car and remember to take them into stores.
Again, spread the word to people who just don’t understand the problem yet. Find a few facts that are convincing for you to share. Maybe the health effects will be what convinces someone, or pictures of once-pristine beaches. Or perhaps your success in influencing legislation in Maine will make a convert. Never become complacent. Thank you for any progress you can make in decreasing your plastic use.
Pemaquid Watershed Association was established in 1966 and is a volunteer-based, membership-supported nonprofit organization whose mission is to conserve the natural resources of the Pemaquid Peninsula through land and water stewardship and education. PWA’s “Keep Pemaquid Peninsula Beautiful” initiative will bolster PWA’s work to preserve and enhance the natural beauty of the Pemaquid Peninsula by promoting a clean, litter-free environment. For more information, go to pemaquidwatershed.org.