Hilltown Voices: Hilltown Eco-Action Group wants to reduce reliance on plastics

  • Plastic bottles and other plastics including a mop, lie washed up on the foreshore at the site of the ancient and no-longer used Queenhithe dock, on the north bank of the River Thames in London, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. AP PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 4/12/2019 12:37:58 PM

With Earth Day just around the corner, the Hilltown Eco-Action Group is encouraging community members to eliminate their use of single-use plastic materials like straws, bags cups and utensils.

Julie Lieberman, a member of the group, said that they are trying to get the word out about the harm that discarded plastic can cause, as well as the various items that people can use as alternatives.

The group says that 79 percent of all the plastics ever produced have now been discarded, and many of these items can take up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills.

Plastic that is not dumped into landfills often ends up in the ocean.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, there are now “15 to 51 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans. From the equator to the poles, from Arctic ice sheets to the sea floor – not one square mile of surface ocean anywhere on earth is free of plastic pollution.”

The consequences for sea birds and marine life can be devastating, with death from entanglement and ingestion becoming more common. This is especially concerning for endangered species like Hawaiian monk seals and Loggerhead sea turtles, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, which are among the over 700 species that eat or become entangles in plastic trash.

Hilltown Eco-Action Group cites the recent incident in April in which a dead pregnant sperm whale was found in Italy with 50 pounds of plastic in its stomach which included things like plastic bags, cups and plates, as well as plastic netting, fishing line and pipes.

Disposal is not the only environmental concern when it comes to plastic, as it’s production is a problem as well, the group said. Plastic is made from petrochemicals derived from oil and gas.

While the use of fossil fuels for transportation is expected to begin to slow due to the rise of electric vehicles and more-efficient combustion engines, demand for petrochemicals could offset any environmental gains.

According to the International Energy Agency, the fossil fuel industry plans to increase plastic production by 40 percent over the next ten years.

As countries around the globe and communities here at home are helping to put a dent in plastic pollution by banning single-use plastic bags, the Hilltown Eco-Action Group says every individual can make a difference by choosing items like reusable bamboo utensils, cotton bags, bamboo or metal straws, biodegradable trash and pet waste bags over plastic.

To find out about alternatives to single-use plastics or for more information on Hilltown EcoAction Group visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/groups/604356716566407/.

Williamsburg food drive

WILLIAMSBURG — The Williamsburg Congregational Church will hold its annual food drive to support the Northampton Survival Center on Saturday, April 20.

This event will take place in front of the church from 9 a.m. until noon.

Organizer Jean York said that the list of important food items needed includes canned vegetables, canned tuna, juices, pasta and sauce, spices, condiments and cooking oils, as well as dry and canned food for dogs and cats.

Other helpful necessities include personal care items like creams, toothpaste and toothbrushes and feminine hygiene products as well as cleaning products, children’s books and cookbooks.

All food donations must be non-perishable, unused and not exceed expiration dates. No clothing will be accepted.

“Last year we brought in 345 pounds of food and $232 in cash donations,” York said. “We are trying to exceed that this year.”

Celebrating Kip Sears

CUMMINGTON — On Saturday, April 13, the town of Cummington will host a potluck at the Community House on Main Street to thank Select Board member Russell “Kip” Sears for his 26 years of service on the Select Board as well as the 14 years he previously served on the finance committee.

Sears will not be running for re-election this year and this is a chance for the community to gather, share some stories, have some laughs, enjoy a selection of finger foods and thank Sears for his dedicated service to the town.

The event will begin at 11 a.m. and end at 1 p.m.

Ideas for this column on life in the hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at fryan.gazette@gmail.com

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