My husband and I recently participated in a Zoom meeting, sponsored by the Natural Resources Council of Maine. One bill before this legislative session is L.D. 1541, An Act to Support and Improve Municipal Recycling Programs and Save Taxpayer Money. Sarah Nichols, the Sustainable Maine director for NRCM, shares in her testimony of May 10 that Maine’s municipal recycling programs are still struggling because of high costs to taxpayers and too much packaging.

On a recent trip to my local grocery store, I noticed how often – especially in the produce section – identical products were available in bulk in their “naked” form, or packaged in plastic. I strolled down the cereal aisle, noting multiple boxes of cereal marketed in cardboard with wax paper linings. Why, then, is it necessary for oatmeal to come with not only a tin lid, but also a plastic lid on top of the tin?

Consumers, it is up to us to make purchasing changes for the benefit of our planet. Maine taxpayers pay at least $16 million each year to manage packaging material through recycling or disposal, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s 2019 Annual Product Stewardship Report.

It would behoove us to think before we purchase that corn or lettuce oh-so-conveniently shucked or chopped for us, marketed in plastic wrap or containers. Consider spending a little more to buy unpacked food in bulk where available. Our planet depends on us for healing. Write to your state representative and senator and ask for support for L.D. 1541.

Lucy Webb Hardy

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