Sudbury is Progressive in Environmental Policy (What?)

Beginning February 1st, Sudbury will become the most progressive Massachusetts town in environmental policy. Take that in for a second. 

Two bylaws will go into effect in Sudbury on February 1st. The first focuses on polystyrene reduction. Polystyrene’s foam form is commonly referred to as “styrofoam” and the other form is known as rigid polystyrene. This rigid form of polystyrene is found in items like Red Solo Cups. Both types are marked with resin code 6 and pose great environmental and human health risks. After February 1st, Sudbury retail establishments will not package goods for sale in polystyrene.

The second bylaw will limit the retail distribution of plastic straws, stirrers, and splash sticks. For example, coffee shops will provide non-plastic alternatives in self-service dispensers or by request only. Grocery stores can stock the shelves with plastic straws and the like, as long as they also make non-plastic alternatives readily available.

These bylaws were passed at the September town meeting.

If Sudbury will soon become a leader in Massachusetts environmental policy, what does that mean about our state? Unfortunately, it means that Massachusetts has a long way to go.

Last spring, Lincoln-Sudbury’s Environmental Club met heavy opposition, primarily from adult Facebook groups. As young people seeking to make a change, we were confronted by generational opposition. One commenter compared the club’s history of policy efforts to using the town as a science fair project. Perhaps this is accurate, especially considering the lack of an L-S science fair.

However, aside from immediate frustration, us leaders felt inspiration a few days after these Facebook comments. Though the club can pave the way for a “progressive” state, the values we preach aren’t currently reflected in the general legislation of Massachusetts. This lack of mutual understanding creates a stand-still in progress. We are glad to be making small changes in our town government, but this is not enough, and we need the whole community to be aware of this.

In Summer 2020, the LS Environmental Club put on a speaker series for the Lincoln and Sudbury communities. We hoped to educate people on how environmental actions affect our community. In February 2021, we will do the same. We’ve invited a wide variety of speakers in order to gain the different perspectives of our state: from environmentalists to senators to business professionals, we hope that we can focus on current change within L-S as well as broader aspects in Sudbury, Lincoln, and Massachusetts. 

With a new administration change during a period of extreme division, it is more important than ever to make sure we are bridging the gap between perspectives. Whether the opposition comes from ignorance or from politics, we hope that our speaker series will help those in opposition to understand why our environmental policy is so important right now. We must be willing to put in the work to meet people halfway, and it’s vital that we do so through mutual understanding and partnership. There are many ways that you can become a part of the solution by getting involved and educating yourself and those around you.

If we work together on greatly increasing our knowledge, we can begin to move from performative activism to true activism. Within our school you can join our club, sign up for our webinars, look into taking the Environmental Science elective, or get involved in the NOSB club (National Ocean Sciences Bowl). The adults in your life can also take part in this movement by joining Sustainable Sudbury or any number of other clubs in the area!

Please come check out our environmental speaker series, starting February 6th, 2021 at 7:30pm! Email [email protected] or head over to our Instagram page, @lsenvironmentalclub, for more information.