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A Crisis We Can Control

  • 2 min to read
Litterbugs: Trashing Masconomo

With the heat and sparkling sun of the summer solstice, last weekend was the perfect time to escape from the anxious world into the cool waters of beaches and shaded sanctuaries of local parks.  Unfortunately, Manchester’s Masconomo Park was experiencing its own epidemic – of litterbugs.  This photo by Manchester resident Anna Kasabian suggests that we all need to learn how to keep the local environment clean and healthy, even during a time of crisis.

Even though the need for observing safety protocols has changed the way we shop and interact with our environment, it is more important than ever to continue best environmental practices in our homes and lives.  Here are some ways in which we can do this.

Compost.  

In a recent talk by Sharon Kishida, our local MassDEP Municipal Assistance Coordinator, it was pointed out that of the 5.7 million tons of municipal waste generated in Massachusetts in 2018, 26 percent of this is wasted food.  Food is heavier by volume than most other waste items. Please continue to compost or start now if you haven’t already.  It’s easier than you think and will have a major impact on our town waste disposal costs, and your future charges for waste.  For more information on how to compost, go to the Town website or Black Earth Compost.

Grocery shopping.  

There’s a temporary ban on bringing your own bags to the store, but one way to avoid wasteful single-use paper or plastic is to bring the unbagged groceries to your car and place them in your own bags there. 

Bike and walk more!

 Bike sales have skyrocketed in recent weeks, and people are commuting less and working from home more.  Hopefully this will set a trend to cut pollution from vehicle traffic and reduce congestion on our streets.  It’s healthy too!

Buy less.

Even though it is super convenient to order packages from Amazon from home, think Do I Really Need This Thing?  In 2018, Amazon Prime delivered an estimated 5 billion packages to consumers around the world, and accounted for 40% of all online sales in the United States. That equates to roughly 13 million packages a day.  That’s a lot of cardboard! Amazon does not recycle cardboard.  We pay for that service through our municipal recycling charges.

frontiergroup.org/blogs/blog/fg/crisis-convenience-why-your-amazon-box-going-straight-trash.

Use Less Plastic.

Much has been written about the massive environmental damage caused by waste plastic, and disposal is a huge problem.  We should be vigilant about continuing the progress that has been made in plastic reduction legislation, including our local plastic bag, straw and Styrofoam bans.  Don’t forget to take your refillable water bottle when you go out!

Currently, all our waste is trucked to waste combustors in our area.  However, they are at capacity, and overflow will end up being exported to landfills in other states.  The cost to our towns is rising astronomically.  There are several websites and Facebook pages dedicated to the Buy Nothing movement, and to trading unwanted used items.  Buy used if you can and donate what you don’t need.

Recycle correctly. 

There is still a market for some recyclable items.  See the Town website and MassDEP’s useful website RecycleSmartMA.org to find out what can and cannot be recycled.

Extended Producer Responsibility.  

When you purchase a new item, try to find out what the manufacturer’s policies are regarding how their materials are sourced, and packaging and manufacturing waste.  There are online directories of environmentally responsible companies.

Alison Anholt-White is a Chair of The Manchester Sustainability Committee.