Join us Sunday, Sept. 24th for an Estuaries Day Event at WBNERR!

racingbeachcleanupphoto1Join us this Sunday, September 24th from 2 to 4 pm, rain or shine, to celebrate Estuaries Day at the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Reserve.

Our theme this year is Marine Debris (aka garbage in the ocean and how we can prevent it). There will be live music with Zoey Lewis, hands-on art activities, a show of upcycled art pieces, ocean plastic activities, marine debris film shorts, and the chance to win cool stainless steel and glass straws and insulated water bottles!

Bring along a picnic lunch, a beach chair or blanket, and your own reusable water bottle or cup. And, bring an old t-shirt if you’d like to see it reborn as a tote bag. 

This event is co-sponsored by Skip the Straw Campaign/FWS, NOAA Northeast Region Marine Debris Program, Ocean Protection Advocacy Kids, Friends of Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Waquoit Bay Reserve Foundation, and Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

We hope to see you there! Contact Falmouth Water Stewards (info at falmouthwaters.org) for more information. 

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday! Check out and share our flyer!

 

 

Summer 2017 Newsletter Now Available!

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Check out the Falmouth Water Stewards Summer 2017 Newsletter!

The Falmouth Water Stewards newest newsletter is now available, found here.  Please enjoy updates from our Co-President, a discussion about Nature Deficit Disorder, the connection between climate change and coastal flooding, the latest from our Water Watchers and Skip the Straw teams, and more!

Thank you for your continued support of Falmouth Water Stewards. We are a
membership-based organization and rely on the support of community members like you to continue our important work to protect and restore Falmouth’s fresh and coastal waters.

If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer (we need more Water Watchers. PondWatchers, fundaisers, web experts and more!), suggest topics for future newsletters, contribute an article to a future newsletter, help with our social media outreach, or get together with board members to discuss important local water issues, contact us at info@falmouthwaters.org. We want to hear from you!

Thanks again for your commitment to a healthy, sustainable Falmouth and beyond!

Our Winter 2017 Newsletter is Here!

bird-sunsetA new edition of the FWS newsletter is out and can be found here. In this issue, we talk about the drought in Massachusetts, the use of phytoremediation to address stormwater runoff pollution, the current state of our Skip the Straw and Water Watchers initiatives, and more.

Thank you for your continued support of Falmouth Water Stewards. We are a
membership-based organization and rely on the support of community members like you to continue our important work to protect and restore Falmouth’s fresh and coastal waters.

If you’d like to get involved as a volunteer (we need more Water Watchers. PondWatchers, fundaisers, web experts and more!), suggest topics for future newsletters, contribute an article to a future newsletter, help with our social media outreach, or get together with board members to discuss important local water issues, contact us at info@falmouthwaters.org. We want to hear from you!

Thanks again for your commitment to a healthy, sustainable Falmouth and beyond!

 

66 Pounds of Garbage Cleaned Up at Racing Beach!

The Skip the Straw and SEA students and community members collected over 60 POUNDS of debris at Racing Beach on Sunday, 10/16, all of which was recorded for Ocean Conservancy data collection and separated into recyclables and garbage.

Stay tuned and join us for our next Community Clean-Up, and let us know if you have a beach in mind that really needs our help!racing-beach-cleanup-photo-2 racing-beach-cleanupphoto3 racingbeachcleanupphoto1

Join Us Sunday 10/16 for a Beach Cleanup at Racing Beach

Join FWS’ Skip the Straw group and Sea Education Association’s Semester Students this Sunday, October 16, at 11 am for a community clean-up of Racing Beach in Falmouth!  Spend some time this weekend keeping plastics out of our waterways and making our beaches cleaner and safer for the people and wildlife who use them.  Meet at SEA (171 Woods Hole Road in Falmouth) at 11 am; all materials will be provided.  For more information, email info@falmouthwaters.org.  We hope to see you there. Click here for a flyer of the event.

Skip the Straw Receives NOAA Award

FWS’ Skip the Straw Program has teamed up with the Sea Education Association on a Single Use Plastics Reduction (SUPR) Campaign and the two organizations were recently awarded funding from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric  Association (NOAA) to move forward with the initiative.

The Skip the Straw team will continue their work of engaging with schools, businesses and citizens to raise awareness of the problems associated with the use of single use plastics like straws, and encourage people and businesses to change their practices.  The middle school students will work with Sea Education students on various aspects of the campaign.  Find out more about the Skip the Straw program and how you can help keep plastic trash out of the the oceans (and landfills) here.

FWS’ Annual Meeting July 21st: Restoring Cape Cod

peersinwaterwebsiteWe hope you’ll join us for our Annual Meeting on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 7:30 pm at the Falmouth Public Library.  Ed DeWitt, Executive Director of the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) and Restoration Ecologist April Wobst, also of APCC, will talk about “Restoring Cape Cod: Regional Capacity for Local Initiatives“. It promises to be an interesting talk with a good group of fellow water stewards and concerned citizens.

Tasty refreshments will be served.

We hope to see you there!

Summer Newsletter is Here

kaleabalistraws

Kalea Holdren with a pile of straws collected in just ten minutes on a beach in Bali in April of 2016.

A new edition of the FWS newsletter is out! In this issue, we talk about our new citizen science, adopt-a-water-body program Water Watchers, the invasive but edible green crab (complete with recipe!), Coonamessett River restoration efforts, the growing problem of plastic trash in the oceans and what you can do about it, and more.  Click here to read view a printable pdf version. 

 

 

 

Falmouth’s Plastic Bag Ban Makes Good Sense

In keeping with our work within the Skip the Straw Initiative to encourage individuals, businesses and other institutions to reduce or end altogether their use of single-use plastics and in response to a recent letter to the editor, two members of the Falmouth Water Stewards Skip the Straw team wrote an op-ed in the Falmouth Enterprise last week explaining why the plastic bag ban in Falmouth makes good sense. Read it here. Highlights of the article include:

  • While plastic grocery bags are, in theory, 100% recyclable, in practice, only a tiny fraction of plastic bags are recycled. Most are made from High Density Polyethylene (HDPE). Of 700,000 tons of HDPE plastic bags and sacks generated in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available (EPA, 2013 ), only 5.7% or 40,000 tons were recycled, down from 7% (50,000 tons) in 2012 (EPA, 2012), and not all of that 5.7% are grocery bags.
  • The remainder of the estimated 100 billion plastic grocery bags used in the United States each year end up in landfills, where they can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade, as well as in our forests, oceans, beaches, waterways, parks and backyards. They harm wildlife, contaminate water and soil, impact recreation, and become part of a growing body of micro- and macro-plastic debris polluting our lands and waters.
  • While reusable bags are a good concept, it’s important to know that not all re-usable bags are created equal. Many of the bags commonly and cheaply on offer in grocery and other retail stores are made of polypropylene plastics, are imported from China at significant energy cost, contain large amounts of lead and other heavy metals, and, at the end of their lifecycles, are not recyclable and end up in landfills, with each of these factors adding to their environmental footprints.  Some canvas bags imported from China share many of these characteristics.organic cotton falmouth water stewards bag happy girl
  • But while natural fiber, biodegradable bags, or bags made from recycled materials may require more use to compensate for the additional energy and resources that go into producing them, the whole point of re-usable bags is to re-use them, again and again over many years, something that is not possible to do with an HBDE disposable plastic grocery bag.  Consider purchasing one of FWS’ organic cotton, locally printed grocery bags to add to your reusable bag collection. Bags are available at Coffee Obsession, Howling Bird Studio, and For Birds Only or by contacting us at info at falmouthwaters.org. 
  • And, while most manufacturers consider HDPE to be a ‘low hazard’ plastic (Chemical and Engineering News, 2004, Dow website, 2016), primarily due to low, direct human exposure, recent research indicates that HDPE releases estrogenic (i.e., endocrine disrupting) chemicals (Yang et al., 2011 DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1003220). As HDPE and other plastics break down into smaller and smaller particles and are consumed by marine and terrestrial organisms, they bio-accumulate in the food chain that humans rely upon.  The impact of these chemical leachants on humans and other organisms has yet to be fully understood, but is worrisome.
  • The Ocean Conservancy International Coastal Cleanup continues to list single-use plastic bags (grocery bags plus other plastic bags) as the 4th most common item found on beaches and in coastal areas worldwide during coastal cleanups. Moreover, plastic bags were the 9th and 10th most common items found during cleanups in Massachusetts in 2014 (Ocean Conservancy).
  • 80% or more of ocean plastics come from land-based sources, with as much as 25% of that coming from leakage in waste collection practices; the other 75% is due to uncollected waste (Ocean Conservancy and McKinsey Center Report, 2015). Through choking, starvation and entanglement these plastics directly impact over 260 species of marine life including fish, invertebrates, turtles, seabirds and mammals. They also break down into micro-plastics (Rochman et al., 2013) and bioaccumulate in marine organisms as they are ingested (Thompson et al., 2009 DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2009.0053).
  • Simply recycling plastic is not an effective solution to the problems generated by plastic wastes. We must commit to making choices that are safer and wiser for our children, our communities, our land, our oceans and all living things. We can start by saying “No thank you” to single use shopping bags and other single use plastics.