We are lucky to live in Maine, a place with a beautiful environment that people travel from all over the world to enjoy. But things might not be as clean and healthy as they seem at first glance. At a presentation called “Microplastics in the Gulf of Maine” by Madelyn Woods of the Shaw Institute (formerly MERI), I was shocked to learn about the high levels of tiny bits of plastic that we have right here on the coast of Maine. Even more shocking were the known health issues related to plastics and their additives: cancer, birth defects, impaired immunity, declining sperm counts, infertility, and the list goes on.
Plastics are showing up in our seafood and the industry itself (important to our region!) is threatened by the fatal toxicity of plastics to the sea life, as more and more plastics are introduced into the food web. Even if you choose a plant-based diet (as I do), the most recent research has discovered microplastics in everything from drinking water to beer, honey, sea salt, and the list keeps growing. Microplastics are even in the air we breathe and the dust that swirls around us.
Many plastic items are necessary in today’s world, but items designed to be used once and then thrown away just minutes later (such as single-use plastic shopping bags) are easily finding their way into our environment and onto our plates. This is totally avoidable. We all can take actions, small or large, to limit our own plastic consumption. I encourage you to learn more about plastic pollution and contact our city councilors or attend the next Ellsworth City Council meeting on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, where members of the Ellsworth Green Action Team will present a draft ordinance to limit single-use carryout plastic bags in Ellsworth. We believe that this is one step that we can take as a coastal community to address our responsibility to improve the health of our ocean and land environment and wildlife, and our own health.
Julia Ventresco, member
Ellsworth Green Action Team