With the notable exception of a Michelob bottle hurled from my hand while leaning out the passenger side of a Chevy Vega cruising the Merritt Parkway at 70 miles per hour in 1980 when I was 17, I have never, okay rarely, ever tossed the container of my beverage out of the car window. And the aforementioned episodes were, of course, more an exercise in target practice than littering. The Exit 38 sign was as large as it was irresistible to my juvenile sensibilities.

That being said, the proliferation of nip bottles littering the streets, sidewalks, parks and the public spaces in Falmouth is a travesty, one yet to be adequately or even minimally addressed by our town administrators and our state and federal representatives. The liquor lobby knows well how to play this game. And it is winning.

Clearly, I understand and to a certain degree can excuse youthful indiscretion. But being in the habit, as an adult, of tossing recently consumed nip bottles from one’s car window in the hopes of eliminating the evidence of one’s ongoing DWI offense is just dumb.

Who raised these folks to believe that the local constabulary will not eventually catch up with them? The gold standard for the prosecution of DWI offenses is the field sobriety and Breathalyzer tests, and the folks in blue employ them liberally, with purpose—and achieve irrefutable results. Who taught these folks that littering is their right and privilege, that they are entitled to bother their fellow citizens with their aberrant behavior?

I say to them: Just don’t do it. If they want to drink and drive, that is their (bad) choice. I would ask them to take just a moment and devote it to the task of thinking about their drinking and driving and littering and the consequences thereof.

Yes, nip bottles themselves do not endanger anyone. (With the possible exception of The Mother Of All Nip Bottle Dumps, located on the eastbound entrance ramp to the Bourne Bridge. Literally thousands of empty nip bottles, all tossed out by folks enjoying the privilege of driving onto The Cape who do not seem to care much about messing Bourne up a bit.) One can probably rely on getting away with tossing them out the car window in perpetuity. But what of the people who must clean up their mess, just to enjoy our public spaces?

Not to mention, of course, the lives they are putting in mortal danger by their choice to engage in the whole drinking and driving thing.

Is there any shame in them? No. These folks are tossing their shame out the window with the nip bottles.

Vehicular defenestration is not a worthy fate for that useful check on one’s civic obligations. What is needed, of course, is a regional or nation solution: A New England-wide deposit requirement. Or better yet, dare I suggest, a national one.

InBev, The Distilled Spirits Council, The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, Diageo (Smirnoff), The Sazerac Company (Fireball) et al:

If you love the Cape and the folks who enjoy your products while they are living in and visiting this lovely place, please: Lead, follow, but get out of the way on this issue.

Brian B. Donelan

Teaticket Highway

East Falmouth

(1) comment


I've done informal surveys both on my own property (heavily bombed by nips) and the local neighborhood and found Fireball nip bottles the most prevalent. I recall about 10 years ago driving on a pristine woods road in New Hampshire on a crisp winter night. The forest was beautiful and the road clear. That is, until I came upon a couple of bags of Burger King trash in the middle of the road. At that point in time, I just could not understand why someone would do that. Naive, I guess.

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