On behalf of Friends of Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge, the Rockland Harbor Trail Committee, Trekkers, Georges River Land Trust and ERA Cousens Realty, we want to thank the many volunteers who participated in cleaning up trash on Earth Day. On April 21 and 22, volunteers scoured Rockland’s shoreline and Harbor Trail, Buttermilk Lane and the commercial stretch of Route 1 in Thomaston.

We are also thankful to other partners, working behind the scenes to make the event a success: the Knox County Emergency Management Agency, the Rockland Public Works Department, Thomaston Recycling, Rockland Dunkin’ Donuts, Rock City Coffee and Wiggins Meat Market. Independent marine research scientist Abigail Barrows came up from Stonington to talk about microplastic pollution, based on her work in Maine and around the world.

The totals are staggering. In less than a mile stretch along the Harbor Trail, over 1,500 cigarette butts were collected – the worst offender. Over 2,000 butts were collected along less than a quarter-mile on the commercial section of Route 1 in Thomaston. Each butt contains plastic within the filter, which is tossed away when someone is done smoking.

On Buttermilk Lane alone, six truckloads of trash were collected. Over 1,500 bits of foam, glass and plastic were collected, each under 2.5 centimeters. The harm in all this trash is that, for the most part, it does not go away. Annually, over 8 million metric tons of plastic make their way into our oceans.

While we are thankful to all our volunteers who contributed to Earth Day, the need to address plastic debris is ongoing. Please consider taking your own bags to town, shopping where plastic is not used, forgoing single-use plastic, avoiding plastic straws and being mindful of unnecessary packaging when shopping. We need to all do our part.

Annette Naegel

director of conservation, Georges River Land Trust


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