Greenfield, MA – The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) hosts their 23rd annual Source to Sea Cleanup on Friday & Saturday, September 27 & 28. In addition to annually coordinating thousands of volunteers to clean up trash in our rivers, CRC continues to work toward solutions to the persistent problem of trash pollution. Plastic bags, bottles, and polystyrene (Styrofoam) are consistently the most found items during the Source to Sea Cleanup and these items never fully break down in the environment. In 2018, Cleanup volunteers collected over 22,100 plastic bottles and 1.76 cubic yards of polystyrene from our waterways, including 96 pieces of plastic foam dock floats.
CRC is asking for your help to spread the word about our plastic problem and the impact on our rivers. “A picture is worth a thousand words and we are going to put your pictures to work,” says Stacey Lennard, CRC’s Cleanup coordinator. Enter your Source to Sea Cleanup photos showing trashed rivers at their worst in CRC’s online photo contest. Then share your photos online via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #PurgeThePlastic, tag local elected officials and the companies whose logos appear on the trash. CRC is challenging two companies via social media – Dunkin’ and Cumberland Farms – whose trash is regularly found during the Source to Sea Cleanup. “We invite everyone to join us in telling them we expect better,” says Lennard. “We want less single-use plastic and plastic foam; we want more reusable and compostable options; we want items that are easier to recycle and keep out of landfills.”
CRC points out that given how much Dunkin’ and Cumberland Farms trash is found during the Source to Sea Cleanup, these companies have a unique opportunity to make a huge difference for our rivers by using more environmentally-friendly options. This is particularly important due to China’s recent import restrictions on plastic waste. The cost of plastic waste is beginning to outweigh its usefulness. Learn more about how you can get involved at ctriver.org/takeaction.
According to CRC, the solution to this problem is to redesign our economy so there isn’t waste in the first place. “Vermont and Connecticut are leading the way with their recent state-wide bans on single-use plastics,” says Andrew Fisk, CRC’s executive director. “It’s time businesses step up to voluntarily do the right thing by offering more sustainable, reusable, recyclable, and compostable options. And we are encouraging dock-owners to swap their plastic foam dock floats for better options like plastic barrels or other readily available products.” Other solutions are to make recycling easy, effective and widely accessible; to increase the use of effective incentives like Bottle Bills for recycling aluminum, plastic and glass containers; and to dis-incentivize polystyrene (Styrofoam), especially foam dock floats in favor of enclosed foam or non-foam dock materials that won’t send plastic chunks into rivers. Many people don’t realize that plastic foam is commonly used in docks. This plastic foam crumbles under constant attack from floating debris, animals, and floods. It breaks off and pollutes our rivers, but there are more environmentally-friendly options.
“We all have a responsibility to solve this problem,” says Fisk. “We are responsible as consumers to make good choices in how we purchase and dispose of products. Manufacturers, businesses, and government are also responsible and it’s time they do their part. By working together, we can make a real difference for our rivers. These ideas are going to take time, decades even. And we’ll keep at it as long as it takes. But our rivers need change now.”
Over the past 22 years, Source to Sea Cleanup volunteers have removed more than 1,100 tons of trash from our rivers. The Source to Sea Cleanup is a two-day river cleanup coordinated by CRC in all four states of the 410-mile Connecticut River basin (NH, VT, MA, CT). Each fall, thousands of volunteers remove about 50 tons of trash along rivers, streams, parks, boat launches, trails and more. For more information or to register for the event, visit ctriver.org/cleanup.
Eversource is the Lead Source to Sea Cleanup sponsor. “At Eversource we’re committed to caring for the environment and take great care to promote conservation while carefully managing natural and cultural resources,” said Eversource President of Corporate Citizenship Rod Powell. “Working with the CRC at their Source to Sea Cleanup event is an opportunity for our employees to put this passion for the environment into action as we serve the neighborhoods where we work and live.”
Since 1952, Connecticut River Conservancy has been the voice for the Connecticut River watershed, from source to sea. CRC collaborates with partners across four states to protect and advocate for your rivers and educate and engage communities. They bring people together to prevent pollution, improve habitat, and promote enjoyment of your rivers. Healthy rivers support healthy economies. To learn more about CRC, or to make a contribution to help protect your rivers, visit ctriver.org.