Ellsworth Green Action Team
Our committee will assist the city government and its residents to reduce the solid waste stream in Ellsworth through increases in recycling, creative reuse, composting, and other means, including reduction of the use of plastics.
Ellsworth can save taxpayer dollars and protect our environment by establishing itself as a leader in waste management. Given the city's robust freshwater resources and location on the Union River Bay, it is our responsibility to ensure that waste – especially non-biodegradable plastic and foam – does not end up in the environment, where it causes threatens human and natural ecosystems.
We can assist the city, its businesses, and residents by providing high-quality information and programs about waste reduction and diversion, at both small and large scales. Through its efforts, We seek to help all community members effectively manage waste to save money and protect human health.
Roadside cleanup on the Bangor Road, near the Union River.
Actions to date
Roadside Cleanups, spring 2018 and 2019: EGAT organized citizens to collect trash along roadways for a week. The City of Ellsworth provided bags and free pick-up. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 Earth Day cleanup followed a different set of guidelines.
Education about plastic pollution, ongoing: EGAT hosted a screening of the film Bag It, about the pervasiveness of plastic in our lives, and a talk by Madelyn Woods of the Shaw Institute about her research on plastic pollution in the Gulf of Maine and its effects on shellfish and human health. In 2018, EGAT members educated and surveyed citizens at City Hall on election day and at the Chamber of Commerce's Trade Show, and found strong support for a single-use carryout plastic bag ordinance. Members of our team supported the introduction and passage of a state-wide ban that would accomplish this goal. Although the implementation of the ban has been delayed because of COVID, it will be implemented post-COVID.
Participation in public forums, ongoing: EGAT members participated in two forums to discuss a possible city ordinance for single-use carryout plastic bags. One was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Ellsworth (see article). The other was hosted by EGAT and featured presentations by Veronica Young of the Shaw Institute and Anita King, organizer in the City of Belfast, which has a similar ordinance.
Advocating for Recycling Reform for Maine, early 2020: In early 2020, our committee hosted a community event about "Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging" legislation (LD 1431) being considered at the State House, with Rep. Nicole Grohoski of Ellsworth. We requested that the City Council support a municipal resolution in support of LD 1431, which they did in a 4-3 vote in February. The legislation is currently pending.
Continuing and future action areas
Public Information/Promotion and Marketing regarding:
Benefits of buying less and purchasing recycled or reused products
Recycling, including options beyond the City's facility
Creative reuse (upcycling)
Connecting with the Business Community regarding:
Commercial composting, at Ellsworth facility
Using less packaging of products
Reduce plastic products sold or used
Upcycling business start-ups
Request the City of Ellsworth revamp its Solid Waste Committee to manage and support implementation of solid waste strategies, to include:
Three at-large residents, two business owners
Planning & Public Works department staff members
City Councilor liaison