Virtual Forums Tackle Plastic Pollution Ahead of Town Meetings

HYANNIS – As communities across Cape Cod consider expanding plastic bottle bans, a local nonprofit is promoting public forums to highlight the need to fight back against plastic pollution.

Sustainable Practices—the nonprofit that has spearheaded the municipal and commercial plastic water bottle bans across the Cape—will host three forums this month starting on April 14.

Executive Director Madhavi Venkatesan said that they wanted to host the forums ahead of the Mashpee and Sandwich town elections, where both towns will be considering commercial single-use plastic water bottle bans after previous efforts in both towns failed to result in permanent bans. 

“Seventy-four percent of Americans understand that plastic pollution is a problem. The issue really comes down to our civic obligation of showing up to town meeting and putting in place those types of bylaws, those types of policies, that effectively align with the values that we want to have,” said Venkatesan. 

Since 2019, all towns on the Cape have adopted bans on the municipal sale of plastic bottle beverages of any kind, but that does not extend to the commercial sector. 

Venkatesan said that recycling, while a beneficial idea, is ultimately far less effective than not producing plastic waste in the first place by cutting back the use of it.

“Unfortunately, that focus on the disposal impact is what’s very highly polarizing, because if you think you’ve been doing the right thing all this time, and someone is telling you that’s not working, that might make you feel like ‘I don’t want to believe it.’ But the reality is recycling is not working,” said Venkatesan. 

“Until 2017, we had a false perception that it did because we just shipped our waste out of the country.”

On April 14, the first forum will feature Kirstie Pecci, director of the Zero Waste Project and senior attorney with the Conservation Law Foundation. 

She will be addressing the impact of plastic on the land and the impact of plastic disposal in landfills, incineration and recycling. 

Marine Debris and Plastics Program Coordinator at the Center for Coastal Studies Laura Ludwig will talk on April 21 about the impacts, removal and repurposing of plastic marine debris from the ocean and shorelines.

On April 28, the forum series will conclude with Sumona Majumdar, Earth Island Institute general counsel, who will highlight the organization’s efforts to promote transparency and accountability in corporate actions, particularly legal filings against Coca-Cola and Blue Triton Brands, formally known as Nestlé Waters North America. 

All forums will be hosted via Zoom and begin at 6:30 pm each day. The weblinks can be found on the organization’s Events page here.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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