An environmental advocacy group is asking the town to ban the sale of single-use, personal-sized plastic bottles of water.
Specifically, the group, Sustainable Practices, would like to see the town curtail the sales and distribution of all bottles that contain less than a gallon of non-carbonated, unflavored drinking water, according to a citizens petition filed recently at town hall.
The petition also recommends the imposition of fines for retail stores and other business establishments that do not comply. A first violation would result in a warning; second violation would incur a fine of $150; and third and subsequent violations would result in a fine of $300 each.
“Single-use plastic bottles impact environmental health, and the health and longevity of other species who may ingest plastic as food,” the petition says. “Ultimately, plastic re-enters the human food chain with the adverse consequences both known and emerging. Plastics pollute an impact our environment across their life cycle from production to use to disposal.”
Sustainable Practices is the Brewster-based group that began a successful Capewide quest last year to ban the use and sale of single-use plastic bottles on municipal property.
Sandwich joined several other towns in enacting the municipal ban after a majority of voters supported the measure at Special Town Meeting in October 2019.
Sustainable Practices would like to see the commercial ban proposal placed on Sandwich’s May Town Meeting warrant. The group is not requesting that it be placed on the warrant of a Special Town Meeting tentatively scheduled for March 23.
Mary Cote, a Sandwich resident who serves on the board of Sustainable Practices, said Sandwich High School students are helping to get the word out to students and their parents.
“I think the kids gave a big boost to the successful passage of the municipal ban last year,” Ms. Cote said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, February 19. “They brought kids and their parents into the meeting.”
Sandwich students last fall lined the high school sidewalks leading to the Town Meeting hall bearing anti-plastic-bottle placards and chanting slogans reminiscent of the anti-war protests of earlier eras.
The audience of more than 900 people responded by overwhelmingly shouting “yea” when the town moderator called for a voice vote.
The municipal ban, which was also passed last year by most Cape towns, means that towns and cities will not purchase or sell beverages in single-use plastic containers on town property, including schools.
Ms. Cote said other municipalities in Massachusetts—including Concord and Sudbury—as well as cities across the country and the world—have also stopped the sale of single-use bottled water.
Martha’s Vineyard last year extended the ban to all small carbonated soft drink containers, according to published reports.
Ms. Cote has said the United States is responsible for 60 percent of the world’s consumption of water from plastic bottles despite only having 4.5 percent of the world’s population.
“A Capewide ban on single-use bottles would bring us national attention and help us become the eco-tourist destination we ought to be,” Ms. Cote said Wednesday.