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GREENFIELD — The Connecticut River Conservancy (CRC) is hosting its 24th annual Source to Sea Cleanup throughout the month of September. To learn how to get involved, visit www.ctriver.org/cleanup.

“After cleaning up 1,167 tons of trash over the past 23 years, it’s clear that repeated cleaning is not the solution to our trash problem,” CRC Executive Director Andrew Fisk said. “Consumers need to avoid single-use items. And it’s time for the businesses who created and have been profiting from this trash to now help solve the problem through fundamental redesign of how our products are made and disposed of.”

CRC insists the economy must be redesigned so there isn’t waste in the first place, and that it’s time businesses step up to voluntarily do the right thing by offering more sustainable, reusable, recyclable, and compostable options.

“As individuals, we should always properly dispose of and recycle our waste,” Fisk said. “And it’s time that corporations also take responsibility for their role in trashing our rivers.”

Consumers have been trained by businesses to rely on unnecessary disposable and single-use plastics, the CDC argues, adding that businesses and manufacturers are profiting by making these products out of cheap, petroleum-based plastic that is harmful and doesn’t easily break down. Producers and manufacturers then pass the responsibility and disposal costs for the products they make to the consumers, which lead to litter and polluted rivers.

“We invite everyone to join us in telling businesses we expect better,” said Stacey Lennard, Source to Sea Cleanup coordinator. “You can help show the problem to help solve the problem. Take a photo, video, or make art inspired by river beauty or river pollution. Get creative, use #RiverWitness online, and tag CRC on social media.”

CRC will add these images to an online mosaic photo display and video. Select images will be used to call on decision makers to enact solutions to keep trash out of the rivers. “Show them this is important to you. Speak up for your rivers,” Lennard said.

According to CRC, the best way businesses and corporations can cut down on their products becoming litter in rivers is to offer more reusable options, like coffee mugs and drink cups. Additionally, bioplastics are emerging as a promising alternative to plastic made from fossil fuels. There are plenty of eco-friendly cups and dishware items on the market that businesses could be using. These new plastics are compostable, break down in the marine environment as food, are made from waste, and are made with less energy and environmental impact than traditional petroleum plastics.

“We all have a responsibility to solve this problem,” Fisk said. “We are responsible as consumers to make good choices in how we purchase and dispose of products. Manufacturers, businesses, and government are also responsible, and it’s time they do their part. By working together, we can make a real difference for our rivers. These ideas are going to take time, decades even. And we’ll keep at it as long as it takes. But our rivers need change now.”

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