By Charlotte Pototsky, member of the SSC Zero Waste and Youth Committees
As the summer gets underway, more and more Sharon residents will continue visiting Lake Massapoag to swim, sail, see friends, and simply have fun. However, with more people going to the lake, there has been a significant increase in the amount of litter, both in and around the lake.
We need to be more mindful of our beautiful lake. Here are five ways you can protect the lake and surrounding areas, while being part of the solution, rather than part of the pollution!
- Recognize the Problem: Litter and contaminants, such as plastic, entering our lake is a health threat to Sharon. There is now an ever-increasing amount of micro-plastics and toxic chemicals breaking down and then entering the lake and shoreline.
Last October, at a Sharon Town Hall meeting, we agreed that these threats to the lake must be taken seriously. To that end, residents voted to create a 3-year moratorium on changing the high school field from grass, into a turf playing field. This is because keeping a grass field helps keep Lake Massapoag free of plasticizers along with the chemical in artificial turf, PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances).
As one community, we must all take responsibility for protecting the lake. Hence, the last thing we want is to increase the amount of micro-plastics in the lake — due to litter! How much debris will it take for all of us to take responsibility for the litter each of us leaves behind on every lakeside visit? Do you police your area before you leave? Litter in Sharon (near the lake and otherwise), can also pollute our streams, ponds, ground water, soil and drinking water by leaching chemicals. Unfortunately, PFAS has recently been found in two of Sharon’s wells (#2 and #4), contaminating that water, and causing #4 to shut down. Health hazards like these will continue if we keep littering in Sharon, and especially by the lake.
- Put your disposables in the trash: If you bring single use items with you to the lake, it is essential we all ensure they end up in the trash can. While it is best not to send trash to a landfill or incinerator, putting items in the trash is much better than leaving litter on the beach where it is bound to harm aquatic life. One idea to consider: Can we fine people for their trash left on the beach? We clearly need an effective way to prevent the pollution.
- Bring reusables with you to the lake: Bringing reusables with you wherever you go is always a help to our planet. By taking reusables to the lake, and having nothing to throw away, you avoid the need to find a trash can. Of course, it is just as important to check your area and make sure nothing is left behind that could blow away into the lake. Again, Massapoag is a gift to Sharon; it should be treated as something precious.
- Pick up trash near the lake (or anywhere in Sharon!): Every month I make an effort to walk to the lake and pick up litter I find there, as well as any I find along the way. Unfortunately, there is always more trash than I hope. As a young person in Sharon, my family has supported the idea that I should make an effort to leave any natural area better than I found it. It would be amazing to see more people take a “litter walk.” Picking up trash is now imperative for everyone in our community to do (when possible). If you live far from the lake, pick up any trash near you. It doesn’t have to be a hassle. Trash travels quickly and a little effort goes a long way.
- Advocate for more trash and recycling bins at the lake: One of biggest causes for litter on the beach is a lack of bins for disposable waste. To surpass this obstacle, we need to make trash cans more available and convenient. This is another way to encourage less litter and, I believe, would be a big help in lowering waste by the water (though it may take time to make this change). In the meantime, an effective alternative could be to carry a bag with you for disposables.
Clearly, we need to care for our town, just as we need to care for the environment globally. There are no good reasons to see this much litter at the lake. The next time you visit our lake, help us keep it clean! Look down – really look and see what is before you. Then take a minute to make a difference and pick it up! Now, tell a friend.
Please try doing any one (or all) of these Earth-friendly ideas!
As always, please feel free to share your thoughts regarding how you live sustainably. Here are three ways to make your viewpoints known and keep the conversation going:
- Join SSC on the first Wednesday of every month
- Check out this list for some “fun” facts about sustainability.
- Visit or comment on my personal blog or my YouTube channel
Sustainable Sharon Coalition
We inspire, educate, connect, and catalyze our community to protect the planet.