John Basile: Bottles, Bottles Everywhere

A Cape Cod Times opinion piece written on April 17th discusses the Bill State Representative Crocker co-sponsored to keep our streets on the Cape clean.

John Basile: Bottles, Bottles Everywhere

Cape Cod Times

John Basile

April 17, 2017

These days, every time I go for a walk I’m reminded of how deeply affected our communities are by alcohol abuse. No, I don’t see lots of people huddled in doorways as I often do when I’m in big cities. What I see here on Cape Cod are so-called “nip” bottles in astonishing numbers by the side of the road.

It’s not unusual to see a dozen or more of these little bottles that once held gin, vodka or some other alcoholic beverage, in a space of 10 or 20 yards. In a typical walk of perhaps half an hour I’ll see hundreds of nip bottles by the side of the road. (This is in addition to the beer cans that also festoon the roadside.)

It’s a pretty safe assumption that people are tossing these little bottles out of their car windows as they drive along our roads. What does that say about the condition these drivers are in?

It’s time to change the so-called “Bottle Bill” in Massachusetts to include nip bottles. The same five-cent deposit on these bottles that we already pay on cans and bottles of soda and beer might encourage people to recycle them in order to get the deposit back. If we earmark the unclaimed deposit money for alcoholism prevention or treatment, it will also do some good in that area as well as helping to keep our roadsides cleaner.

I know that some will point out that anyone who drinks while driving isn’t likely to save the empty bottle to retrieve the five-cent deposit. But we have to do something about this situation and we may as well at least generate more revenue from these scofflaws.

A recent check with some of the Cape’s elected representatives was encouraging. State Rep. Randy Hunt, R-Sandwich, has filed an amendment to the existing law that would add nip bottles to the list of containers on which we pay a deposit.

State Representatives Tim Whelan, R-Brewster and Will Crocker, R-Barnstable, both have co-sponsored Hunt’s bill. Whelan told me in an email that he doesn’t have hope that a deposit on nip bottles will help stop impaired driving, but it will help clean up our streets.

Crocker said much the same thing, pointing out that the Cape relies on tourism and cleaner neighborhoods are a lot more attractive to visitors.

Just envision a nickel on the ground in place of every nip bottle that’s there now. Who knows, maybe a cottage industry will spring up of people who clean up our streets in order to collect the deposits.

It’s a shame that often we have to try to legislate behavior by imposing fees such as bottle deposits. But the sad fact is that seems to be the only way to get the attention of some people. This littering of our roadsides has become an abuse of the environment. If you are not someone who walks on a regular basis, you may not understand just how bad a situation this has become. Get out there and take a look around. If you weren’t aware of the problem, you soon will be.

Read the article here