At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, staffing concerns caused many New England states with bottle return programs to temporarily stop enforcing collection requirements at grocery stores, supermarkets, and liquor shops. Connecticut was among the states pressing pause on bottle bill enforcement. But as of May 20, the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has reinstated bottle collection requirements at these retail sites.
Under cover of the pandemic, the waste industry is trying to demolish critical environmental protections. In April, the waste industry and Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation asked the legislature to delay Vermont’s food scrap ban and trash recyclables, all under the guise of protecting the health of workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But they appear to be part of a push from waste industry groups to use the crisis to advance their own agenda in several New England states.
My first day on the job as Connecticut River Conservancy’s newest River Steward was a whirlwind – literally. We got an early morning start with our friends at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for a windy trip up and down the Connecticut River on their airboat. As we came to our first stop and dismounted the boat, I was shocked and disappointed to see the amount of plastic bottles and nips littering Connecticut’s shoreline.
Although some New England states pioneered the bottle return system, they have since fallen behind. But New England can improve its recycling by updating or adopting bottle return systems in each state. This would help reduce litter in our neighborhoods, parks, and waterways; it would keep recyclable material out of landfills and incinerators; and it would lift some recycling costs off of communities.
After decades of warnings about the various health and environmental risks linked to polystyrene foam, corporate America is just now lending an ear. While some restaurants and coffee shops were quick to swap out polystyrene foam cups for paper ones, others have reacted more slowly – including coffee and donut giants, Honey Dew and Dunkin’.… Continue reading Swapping Out One Unnecessary Evil for Another
The owner of a new, low-waste, personal and home care store in Cambridge, MA, Sarah Levy has re-envisioned the way we shop while helping our community to reduce its waste. For as long as I can remember, I’ve tried to use resources efficiently (i.e., not waste stuff), which is likely a result of growing up… Continue reading Redesigning the Way We Shop
With action to stem plastic pollution stalled at the state level, communities across the Ocean State continue to pick up the slack and take on this important work.
We live surrounded by trash, especially single-use plastic. It’s in our homes, schools, restaurants, offices, communities, and the environment. There’s so much waste that it can be easy to miss its full scale in our lives. Manufacturers and brand owners have created this throw-away culture by mass-producing disposable goods. But when it comes time to… Continue reading Can You Slash Your Trash for One Week?
We use dangerous plastics for just minutes – plastics that poison us, plastics that trash our waters and wildlife, and plastics that throw fuel on the climate crisis fire. It’s time to tell the plastics industry enough is enough and kick our plastic habit for good. The only way to solve this problem is to eliminate the use of single-use plastic products and hold corporations accountable for the public health and environmental impacts of their toxic plastic trash.
This legislative session was full of historic victories for the people of Vermont. Our legislature passed three of the strongest pollution protection laws in the country, setting the standard for New England and the rest of the country.