Illustration by Harley Turso

By Madison Medeiros

We do not need plastic bottled beverages. It does not support human life, there are no health benefits and it is not something vital to our survival or way of living. The only upside to plastic bottled beverages is simply its convenience.

That is why I am in full support of the municipal plastic bottle ban, proposed in Brewster, Chatham, Orleans, Sandwich, Harwich, Yarmouth, Dennis and Wellfleet. The “Cape Plastic Bottle Ban” is an initiative led by the local nonprofit, Sustainable Practices. The ban would only affect town property and vendors for events on town property.

I believe this is the first and most direct step our community and our town leaders need to take in order to save our fragile eco-systems.

Plastic will outlive us all. Do you have children, a family or people you care about? Just imagine that your plastic bottled beverage—the water bottle, soda or sports drink you so desperately needed—will be here far after they are gone.

Well, you do not have to imagine. According to National Geographic and a handful of other credible sources, plastic takes more than 450 years to break down. And that is the ambitious prediction when in likely reality it will never decompose.

Bleach bottles, balloon strings, micro-plastics, Styrofoam cups, nip containers and soda bottles litter our beaches and streets. Plastic pollution has become an overlooked part of our beautiful Cape Cod landscape, blending into our sand dunes, shorelines and landscapes.

Let’s do this together. It is not impossible, and it truly is not that difficult or radical of an idea to grasp. Again, the ban would only affect town property and vendors for events on town property.

The Cape Cod plastic bottle ban will allow the government to be a leading example in the war against plastic pollution. After all, the government only exists to regulate and advocate for human welfare, right?

Why shouldn’t our local officials and offices be the first to change their consumption behavior? Why shouldn’t they stop distributing and selling plastic bottled beverages on our town properties?

If we cannot accomplish this—such a small behavioral change and switch in product—how are we going to accomplish anything else in terms of environmental protection and conservation? How will we fight plastic pollution together? Why should the burden to change our consumption patterns lay strictly on the community, the individual, the voters and tax payers?

Our government should be leading the way.

Plastic is quickly accumulating in every town, village, city, ocean and highway. It is offered at every meeting, event, conference, school and food establishment. We have become accustom to the convenience of the plastic bottle.

Our economy will suffer if we do not fix what is broken. With tourists flocking to the Cape each year, shouldn’t our towns be a leading example for this country in sustainability and conservation? Especially when plastic pollution is hurting our oceans, wetlands, conservation areas, ecosystems and the people in our community.

At the grassroots level, individual action is a powerful vehicle for change. We are directly affected by the actions at a local level, which is why must regain our control at the local level. Let’s put the pressure on our leaders to take the first of many possible steps.

Plastic impacts human health. Wildlife is being harmed. Plastic has entered their food chain and it has even made its way to ours.

So, why should our tax dollars support this?

Please attend your spring Town Meeting and vote in support of the Cape plastic bottle ban. Let your voice be heard.