Can we rid our land and waters of microplastic particles?

Wed, 05/15/2019 - 11:00am

Indivisible-Boothbay, a nonpartisan progressive group, will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 21, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Rotary Building at 66 Montgomery Road in Boothbay Harbor. All interested area citizens are welcome to attend. The focus of this meeting will be the work of the group calling themselves “Plastic-Free Peninsula” (PFP), whose aim is to help local residents, visitors, and businesses reduce the use of plastic and encourage the use of reusable bags, food containers, and other receptacles. A short film about the problem of plastic particles in the ocean, called “The Smog of the Sea,” will be shown during the meeting.

Members of Plastic-Free Peninsula participated in Boothbay Harbor’s Earth Day celebration by helping children and adults create shopping bags from unwanted tee shirts. Star Perkins, a member of the group, also testified at a legislative hearing in support of LD 1532, a bill submitted by Representative Holly Stover that would outlaw the use of single use plastic bags beginning in April 2020. The bill has wide support from both environmental groups and retailers, who would be allowed to charge $.05 for recycled paper bags. “The goal is to encourage people to use their own bags over and over,” explains PFP leader Nancy Adams. “We hope people will ‘choose to re-use’.”

Many towns in Maine have banned the use of single-use plastic bags and containers. For example, in our neighborhood, Brunswick, Newcastle and Damariscotta have all outlawed single-use plastic bags. Stover’s bill would make that a statewide rule. California and New York have similar laws prohibiting plastic bags, and other states including Massachusetts are considering following suit.

Many people have seen horrifying photographs of marine wildlife entangled in plastic bags. But they haven’t seen the tiny particles of plastic that these bags and other containers break down into — microplastic particles that are released into the air and water, eventually finding their way into our own bodies. French scientists recently measured thousands and thousands of microplastic particles in the air of a remote area in the Pyrenees that is 75 miles from the nearest urban area.

“The Smog of the Sea” describes these problems and offers solutions. Released this year, the project brought together researchers, activists, artists, and surfers on a voyage to document the amount of plastic found in the ocean far from any obvious source. After the film, members of Plastic-Free Peninsula will discuss the group’s goals and enlist audience members to help.

Indivisible-Boothbay encourages active citizenship and engagement in the political process at the local, county, state, and national levels. Any interested members of the community are welcome to participate in the group.

For more information, visit the Indivisible-Boothbay website at or email