Letter to the Editor: Nip it in the bud

May 12, 2019

Dear Editor:

A few weeks ago I participated in an effort to clear unsightly litter from the sides of Marion's roads. Most of the debris consisted of plastic “nip” bottles—miniature, alcohol bottles containing 100 mL or less and blue Budweiser cans. While walking that same area recently, the unsightly litter was back.

Regrettably, plastic nip bottles are not only a Marion problem; municipalities across the Commonwealth are searching for ways to tackle this issue. 

Nip bottles are troublesome for several reasons. Besides being unsightly, their low cost and subtle appearance may contribute to drinking while driving, reinforcing behaviors associated with chronic alcoholism. Also, these plastic bottles pollute public spaces and migrate into beautiful Buzzards Bay.

How do nip bottles get into the bay? Well, litter dropped on the street does not stay there; rainwater and wind carry plastic nip bottles and other debris into rivers, through drains and eventually into the Buzzards Bay ecosystem where we swim, fish and sail.

Moreover, plastic nip bottles do not biodegrade. Instead, bottles crack and splinter into tiny fragments, too small to be filtered out by wastewater treatment plants. Once plastic debris is released into the bay, the small plastic particles may be consumed by birds, who then feed their young this undigestible, nutrient-free byproduct of oil. Also, marine animals consume plastic and eventually, those animals — lobsters, clams, finfish and more — may end up on our dinner plates.

Big changes start with small steps; we all have the power and duty to preserve the public trust — whoever you are, please dispose of your nip bottles responsibly.

Eileen J. Marum