Message in a Bottle!!!

The end to plastic bottles
Published on
January 8, 2024
Allies and Partners
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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of educational columns about fostering environmental stewardship and leadership coordinated by ACES — The Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards

All those plastic bottles on the road side, in the water and on the beaches are trashy and wasteful and use too much fossil fuel to make. We need to rapidly phase out of plastic bottles for beverages. We need to send a strong message to our law makers, packaging design engineers and major beverage company CEO’s that they must take steps to rapidly phase out the use of plastic beverage bottles.
Massachusetts should start with those alcoholic nip bottles that are easily thrown out of car windows and blown out of truck beds everywhere locally. Do they have return deposit on them? Are they heavily recycled? No ! Just the day after Christmas Hartford Currant published that a resident they named has been walking regularly in Bristol for about 18 months, bagging trash along the way, and in that time has picked up more than 60,000 nip bottles. One day she collected 285 of the bottles in four hours. “I thought, ‘Am I the only one picking these up?” she said. “Environmentally this is a major issue.” Yes Cynthia, nips are a major issue and so are single use plastic water bottles.
And we are not doing a very good job at recycling those either with only 23% of disposable plastic bottles being recycled nationwide. Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour. That’s the equivalent of about 35 billion plastic bottles trashed every year. And the amount of plastic thrown away each year can circle the earth four times.
Clearly we need to work harder and prioritize the elimination of single use plastics. They need to be phased out by a combination of return to glass bottles where appropriate, design changes, maybe based on new green chemistry research that makes them compostable somehow, raising the bottle return deposit to 10 cents or more, and enforcing the responsibility of beverage retailers to conveniently accept bottles for recycling. Maybe fresh carrots and stronger sticks are needed. They do work well where implemented. They are effective as shown by NY state. After that state passed its new, stronger, 10 cent bottle deposit law in 2020, NYPIRG [ New York Public Interest Research Group ] estimated road side litter dropped by 70%. We can and should at least as well in Massachusetts.
That’s why ACES is strongly supportive of the Plastic Free Mass coalition of numerous environmental groups and public officials, Rep Dawn Shand included, to bring momentum to the passage of an up to date bottle redemption law.  Some of our ACES members will be attending a State House rally in support of a strong bottle law update on January 22nd. Please consider joining the fun. We'll take a train to North Station then walk up to the State House.

And ACES urges the public to speak up in support of reducing plastic bottle waste in Massachusetts. And while it won’t completely remedy the plastics waste problem it’s a really good place to start. So consider writing a letter or two and making a phone call to your state Senator and Representative and ask them to help lead the charge to reduce plastic bottle pollution. You can get some ideas of what to say in this example w9vHNaB_xIfvXSZXwoayNcZZoM5Y-q0/edit

There are messages in all those bottles on the roads, in the water, and on our beaches. They all say we are being negligent by letting it continue. And as Taylor Swift wrote and sings on her 2021 Red album, that “Could be the reason you can't sleep at night A message in a bottle is all I can do. Standin' here, hopin' it gets to you.”

So, join with ACES and other environmental groups in sending this message to your legislators soon. Let us know your thoughts on gaining more participation in this important campaign at and stay up to date by subscribing to our monthly newsletter at Maybe even take a train to Boston for some fun at the State House on Jan 22nd.


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