Vermont Bottle Bill Activism (Agency of Natural Resources Forum)



I’ve just returned from the Agency of Natural Resources forum on the Vermont Bottle Bill. I arrived soaked after searching the state house building (with lots of well dressed legislators milling about) to find out the meeting was in a different building. I dashed through the pouring rain (who carries and umbrella anymore?) to the far entrance and looked like a drowned rat to the guard inside. Apparently, I looked like a drowned rat that cares about recycling, because he directed me to the forum.

Now I’ve spoken in the legislature and in public forums before. Once in support of the lead in consumer products bill, and another time as part of the Vermont body burden study. But I never cease to get seriously nervous. Palm sweating, I need to use the bathroom, oh, why am I here nervous. My friend Richarda Ericson wrote a hilarious post about mama activism– all the reasons why moms are nervous but should show up in the halls of the legislature and policy making anyway. Read it for a good laugh and then think, if she can do it, so can I. 
Here’s what I said today, in support of expanding the bottle bill:
“Thank you to the ANR for this opportunity to give comments. I’m a parent, teacher, environmentalist and writer, and I’m hear to express my support for an expanded bottle bill. 
I teach my students and my own children the importance of responsibility and civic engagement. The Bottle Bill shows product stewardship– consumers who buy the product and the beverage industry taking responsibility for their usage and products. Our society needs to evaluate the life cycle of all products for sustainability. 
I’ve seen my students and community groups raise much needed funds for field trips, The Red Cross, and clubs from collecting returnables. It’s made all the difference in what they are able to do. 
I’ve looked into the eyes of small business owners who run transfer stations. I want to support their efforts and local businesses. 
The Bottle Bill is working and it is motivating. Research tells us that our recycling rates would be much lower without it. 
So many more beverage choices are now available now. The market has outgrown the Bottle Bill. It needs to change with the times and be expanded. 
Let’s expand the Bottle Bill to support a clean Vermont, community groups, and small businesses. Thank you.”
The best part about doing this was that one of my students (from the Earth Hero team!) showed up for the forum with her mom and brother, and watched me speak. She also watched articulate college students, activists, business owners, and community leaders speak as well. It is my hope that she was inspired by this process and motivated to speak up and be a leader in her life. 
Most speakers at this forum were in support of an expanded Bottle Bill. While lobbyists and corporate money is on the side of the beverage industry, we’ve got heart, research, and the future on our side. I’m hoping that this really matters. 
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