April 11, 2023 By Beverley Vernon
Hingham is a beautiful place to live. My husband and I chose to live in Hingham because of our friendships with some residents, its proximity to water, and the ease of commuting to Boston. Hingham is known for its good schools and history. These features make Hingham an attractive place to live. I believe that our elected town leaders, the volunteers serving on the numerous town committees and the residents want to keep Hingham a safe and attractive place to live. Banning the sale of single use plastic bottles under a gallon demonstrates that effort to keep our town beautiful. In general, it shows our town’s committment to keep our Earth healthy.
Plastic is one of those fabulous but regrettable inventions. With the invention around 1907, we now have 116 years of history to see how this contaminant affects our Earth. It is in our water, it is in our landfills, and even in us. It can take up to 500 years for many plastics to decompose. Because of these resulting effects of plastic, our bodies and our Earth are suffering. The Geneva Environment Network states that a “growing body of evidence points to the health risks posed by plastic additives. These include endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which are linked to infertility, obesity, diabetes, prostate or breast cancer, thyroid problems and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, among others.” A recent article by Reuters on February 23 mentioned “single-use plastics have emerged as one of the world’s most pressing environmental threats, with vast amounts of waste buried in landfills or dumped untreated in rivers and oceans. The manufacturing process is also a major source of climate-warming greenhouse gas.”
Plastic is made from fossil fuels. We know about the need to reduce the demand on fossil fuel. 1.5 billion plastic water bottles are sold in Massachusetts every year. The single use plastic water bottles that aren’t recycled either wind up in the trash or are dropped on the ground as litter. This litter winds up in the ocean where it turns into microplastic. Our trash in Hingham is sent to the Covanta SEMASS where it is burned. Ash from the burning process is landfilled elsewhere in Massachusetts. The state of Massachusetts is quickly running out of landfill space.
A crisis is brewing. Banning the sale of plastic water bottles under a gallon shows that Hingham residents support the Earth’s health and want to reduce our town’s contribution to this crisis. With the passage of this by-law, Hingham would join 19 Massachusetts cities and towns who have passed a plastic water bottle ban.
As a former teacher in our town, I have seen these small plastic water bottles tossed into the trash after only one sip and the frustration of teachers when those plastic bottles are brought into their classroom. In 2019, I worked with some elementary students to present before the school committee their desire to stop the use of plastic water bottles in schools. All schools have hydration stations and students are accustomed to bringing their own water bottles for use in the classroom and at lunch. In our community businesses, water can now be purchased in containers other than plastic.
Passing this by-law is a benefit to you, to all of us. Hingham residents will be doing their part in reducing the pollutants to our Earth. I want to reduce the plastic trash along the roadside, in the classrooms and in our town. I am passionate about protecting our Earth for our children and beyond. I am concerned about the health effects for all life with the amount of plastic in the environment. Let’s act on the beliefs of our students and do our best to keep Hingham and Earth healthy and beautiful. Please attend town meeting at Hingham High School at 7 PM on Monday, April 24 to vote on the 35 articles. Vote yes for Article 25, the plastic water bottle ban for commercial sale or distribution By-law. It may require attendance on April 25 if the meeting extends to the second evening.