LINCOLN – Stephanie Santos, chairperson of the Lincoln Conservation Commission and founder of the Lincoln Cleanup Crew, continues her efforts to clean up streets and advocate for the Beverage Container Deposit Recycling act, also known as the bottle bill.
In 60 days, William McCusker, who began the nip-collecting movement, Santos and other volunteer friends across the state have collected 38,400 nips alone.
“It’s awesome and disgusting at the same time that just a handful of people have picked up that many,” said Santos.
To illustrate how many nips are littered, Santos used a drone to take a photo of her 9-year-old son Mathies sitting on top of nearly 10,000 nips, a fourth of the nips collected in the past two months.
“The picture is profound because he is the future,” Santos said, “He’s the one who is going to have to deal with the overwhelming aftermath of this plastic obsession we have.”
Nips are far from the only item littered, but according to Santos, they are the piece of plastic most often seen on local streets and in waterways. Because they are so small, street drains do not catch nips, which is how they’re ending up in the sewer or the bay.
Additionally, the smallness of the nips prevents Rhode Island Resource Recovery from recycling them, unless they are in bulk.
Santos also noted the negative social impacts of nips.
“They aren’t all over the street because a recycle bin tipped over … people are throwing them out their window because they’re drinking and driving,” she said.
“If someone buys a 12-pack of nips, opens one, drinks it and tosses it out the window, they’re no longer violating the open container law because the 11 in the front seat are still closed,” she added. “It’s alarming to know that there is an abundance of people driving impaired.”
Last year, Santos and other environmentalists were trying to get the state to pass a bottle bill banning nips, but it never reached the Senate. Santos said she thinks that is very unlikely to happen, so she and others are advocating for a revised bottle bill incentivizing litter cleanup. She said she believes that a cash incentive, even if it’s only a few cents per bottle, will motivate people to start picking up trash.
On Thursday, March 9, at 3 p.m at the Statehouse, Clean Water Action is holding a rally in support of the bottle bill.
“Where there are humans, there will be litter. It’s about how we approach it,” said Santos. “I think having the bottle bill along with education, community cleanups and statewide cleanups will help.”
Anyone interested in helping collect litter and needing community service hours can visit savebay.org. In addition to Yellow Bag Day on April 1, the Lincoln Cleanup Crew is organizing several other cleanups for this spring. For more information, visit their Facebook group. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about the effort to clean up nips.
Valley reader: It is obvious you did not read the article. Where does it say people are going to get paid to pick up litter? Everyone I know is a volunteer picking up litter. Enforce the litter laws? What government organization is going to enforce a litter law of people drinking and driving after dark on a deserted roadway. Maybe you should meet me on Albion Road in Cumberland on Yellow Bag Day to help pick up all the nips, beer cans, plastic bottles among other junk. Last year I picked up 1012 nips on Albion Road. Would you like to hide behind a tree at night and get the plate number for me? With your help we can enforce the litter laws.
Good Job! I appreciate what you do.
Sorry John, I did read the article. Maybe you need to read the article a second time. I quoted the sentences for you. “Santos said she thinks that is very unlikely to happen, so she and others are advocating for a revised bottle bill incentivizing litter cleanup. She said she believes that a cash incentive, even if it’s only a few cents per bottle, will motivate people to start picking up trash.”
Hey Valley Reader- this is actually Steph. Let me just clarify because i do think that sentence sounds confusing. First of all, in no way am i a lawmaker. Im a full time nurse who joined Lincolns Conservation Commission a few years back. Just last year alone, the commission and volunteers collected 558 bags of trash off of Lincolns streets and waterways. More than half of that was single use plastic beverage containers. What the bottle bill will do is bring back bottle take-back stations, modeling what Connecticut and Massachusetts currently have in place. The idea is to add value to these containers to keep these off the streets. Will this be the fix to all litter in this state? Heck no. But i think its doing something more than just adding "keep rhody litter free" signs everywhere. As i said in the article- where there are humans, there will be trash. it just seems to be getting worse. And to answer your question of why am i highlighting nips? Its just to highlight how 1 single product is becoming so problematic due to its small size. As indicated above, they are the number 1 product we pick up during our trash cleanups, and they are not being caught in our street drains. Right now our statewide count just hit 40,000 in sadly 50 days. But- the good news is that we have tons of cleanups that we just planned for the spring, including breakneck hill, old river road, Front street/lower road, and of course Ken Pichettes Yellow bag day. The commission is also going to be doing an earth-day event at the elementary schools. Hope that clarifies more about your questions. The VB will be informing the public of the big cleanups coming up this spring- feel free to hop in with us and pick up trash :)
vallyreader: heres a good link for you to watch too that explains more
So instead of enforcing litter laws you want to pay people to pick up the trash. Tell me how is this going to work? What new government department are you going to create to monitor the amount of trash picked up to pay each “volunteer”? I agree 100% Rhode Island is littered with trash on the side of the road and it breaks my heart to see this in our beautiful state. But the issue is stopping individuals from throwing out the litter as they drive around. The litter consist of many more items then nip bottles. Why is your focus only on 1 item?
The day and time mentioned in this article for the Clean Water Rally at the State House Library is the wrong. The correct date is March 9th @ 3pm. Could the Valley Breeze please correct their information on the web page.
Clarification: The Bottle Bill Statehouse rally is scheduled for March 9th at 3pm, NOT today. :)
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