Thursday, April 26, 2012

History Made in Concord...Again!

For me, there was only one river to paddle this morning.  It had to be the Concord River and today's trash patrol was dedicated to the townspeople who dared to take what may, to some, be an unpopular stand.

It's been a little over 275 years since the historic events involving the Old North Bridge took place in the town of Concord, MA.  However, at last night's Town Meeting a ban on the sale of single-use plastic water bottles (one liter or less) was approved by voters.  Thus Concord becomes the first town in the United States to enact such a ban.

Also this morning, the multi-billion dollar bottled water industry and the Retailers Association of Massachusetts awoke to the proverbial good news and bad news.  Their good news is that, yet again, with help from their friends in the Massachusetts Legislature they've thwarted another attempt to include non-carbonated beverage containers in the state's bottle redemption program (aka bottle bill).
Their bad news is that 84 year old Jean Hill of Concord convinced many of her fellow citizens to re-examine the plastic water bottle issue, and after 3 years of discussion and thought, voters in Concord decided the negatives outweighed the advantages and enacted a ban on selling such single-use plastic containers.

Now, if the bottled water industry folks are looking for someone to blame, they need only look at their reflection in the mirror-like Concord River.  Had common sense been allowed to prevail years ago, and the bottle bill been expanded, it's possible this ban may never have come to pass.

So before paddling under the replica of the "rude bridge", I stopped to admire the Concord Minute Man statue...
 and thought about "the shot heard 'round the world".

This community now joins ranks with approximately 90 college campuses and the National Park Service's Grand Canyon in banning single-use plastic water bottles.

The bottled water industry doesn't see the need for such a ban.  In fact they like things just the way they are: they purchase a plastic container for about 90 cents, fill it with 16 ounces of spring water or highly filtered municipal tap water, glue a flimsy label on it, then ship it to "convenience" stores and gas stations to be kept cold until purchased by poorly educated consumers like you and me.  Of course at the time of purchase we think it's a value.  It's convenient, isn't it?  It's cold and light to carry and it's healthy H2O after all.  Once it's empty, however, we find ourselves carrying a worthless piece of trash that needs to be ditched.  We'd like it to be recycled but more often than not it goes into a trash barrel, or worse, gets left behind a tree, or under a bench, or perhaps in the river.  In our minds we hope that somehow it will be recycled into a new water bottle.  That way the loop is closed and we can get a good night's sleep.  However, this is a loop that never gets closed because new plastic water bottles are made from only "virgin" plastic and that means using more petro-chemicals,water, and electricity to make new bottles every day...a gross waste of resources that introduces more and more plastic waste into the environment.  Think of it as little more than "manufactured trash".  How can this be considered sustainable?

Other options that do close the loop are readily available to us: good old fashioned tap water in an insulated re-usable water bottle for a fraction of the cost.

Or, if you have to have "spring" water, sign up for home delivery of those 5-gallon (reusable) plastic jugs delivered to your home by bottled water companies and then fill your own insulated water container before you leave the house. 

The beauty of these two alternatives is that they don't result in mountains of disposable bottles.

By making such simple changes we can stop demonstrating over and over again the validity of P.T. Barnum's adage "there's a sucker born every minute".

Today's trash haul was collected in honor of Jean Hill and her eloquent way of asking us all to pause, think, and consider taking the long view...

The count of 41 recyclable containers (15 redeemable) and 19 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish was supervised by these two interested bystanders...

The section of river patrolled was from Egg Rock to Davis Hill and back.

Hopefully, folks in other communities will re-examine the bottled water issue and also consider taking the long view...

YTD = 2151


Anonymous said...

Congratulations & appreciation to Concord, MA for voting for the health of our environment in spite of pressures from the bottled water industry,our own convenience, & a too often present throw away mentality. Thanks from Mrs. Trashpaddler!

Steve and Jen said...

Lets hope more towns follow Concard's lead and enact a ban as well.

troutbirder said...

Interesting post. I concur totally... :)

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

What a titanic pile of trash! Drives me crazy what people don't pack out! Nice job!