by Terry Atkinson
Floating down the Deerfield River we are amazed at the number of plastic, single-use water bottles “lost” by boaters and floaters along the way. And, the problem is not just disposable water bottles. An alarming statistic from the organizers of the Green River Cleanup is that 60 to 70% of what was believed to be plastic recyclables collected by the volunteers are actually the 1-quart size iced coffee cups, which cannot be recycled.
Aside from the newer compostable types, plastics never break down except into smaller particles. As a result, plastics have become particularly pervasive in our environment and a threat to the health of many sea and land life forms, including us. Locally, plastics can flush from highways and waterways into the Deerfield River where they flow to the Connecticut River, picking up more debris from tributaries along the way, before finally emptying out into Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean!
Best practices include: (1) recycle what can be recycled; (2) consider avoiding iced coffee beverages that come in plastic cups until a market can be found to recycle them or coffee retailers get the message and help solve the problem; and, (3) help us by collecting and recycling the water bottles and disposing of the plastic cups you find on your outdoor adventures!