Creating a sustainable Maine

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Dear Friend of NRCM,

The legislative session is over, but NRCM Sustainable Maine Project staff are as busy as ever helping communities and citizens take control of their local, environmental destinies in the face of inaction at the federal and state level.

We created this newsletter to keep you informed of some of the work we have been doing to help keep Maine a special place to live, work, and play. We hope you enjoy it, and thanks to all who are joining us in making a difference!

Sustainable Maine Fall Hero: People all over Maine are going above and beyond to improve the sustainability of their communities. While there are many good candidates, this fall we honor:

  • David Pope of Massabesic Middle School, East Waterboro: With all of the news about the terrible toll food waste is taking on our environment and economy, it’s good to know there are leaders helping the next generation create a more sustainable example for others to easily follow. David, a science teacher, has helped create a model school composting program. What started as an interesting science experiment has morphed into a self-sustaining, nearly 100 percent student-run composting program that supplies enough compost for the school’s growing garden program. For the first year, it’s also producing enough compost to sell to the local community! NRCM’s Ryan Parker visited David and the school’s principal, Mark Fisher, to learn about the program and see it in action. Students collect all data, from pH to temperature, to determine when the piles need to be turned, and they work with the school staff to ensure proper management. Congratulations to David and the students helping to lead Maine toward a more sustainable future!

Reducing Food Waste in Schools The Sustainable Maine team is working with a number of schools to reduce the amount of food that’s wasted in school lunch, breakfast, and snack programs. From “Share Tables” (where kids can drop off uneaten food for others) to on-site composting, there are numerous, common-sense ways to reduce the amount (and it’s a lot!) of food wasted in K-12 schools. This helps Maine’s environment and saves Maine taxpayers thousands of local dollars! If you would like your school to look at this issue, contact Ryan Parker, NRCM Sustainable Maine Policy Advocate, to learn how NRCM can help.

nips bottle on side of Maine road

Nipping “Nips” You probably noticed the uproar about “nips” in the news this summer. Sales of these 50 ml alcohol containers have exploded in recent years, and the debris is littering Maine’s roadways and environment. NRCM testified in support of, and the Legislature overwhelmingly passed, a bill that would expand one of the most successful recycling programs in Maine’s history—the Bottle Bill—to include nips. Governor LePage vetoed the bill, but the Legislature soundly overrode his veto, after which he threatened to pull nips from the shelf. The commission overseeing such decisions voted down the governor’s recommendation and nips will now be included in Maine’s landmark Bottle Redemption Program, which NRCM helped establish!

plastic bag littered on Maine roadside

Finishing Foam and Bagging Bags in Belfast This spring the Legislature passed a bill aimed at curbing single-use plastic bags and foam food containers. Unfortunately, Governor LePage, who thinks “litter is known to be washed away,” with the snow melt, vetoed the bill. In light of this behavior, NRCM has been working with Mainers on the ground in their own communities to help pass local ordinances. Belfast recently became the latest Maine city to establish itself as a leader by banning single use plastic bags and foam containers! With its location on the edge of Penobscot Bay, this is an important victory for Maine’s marine and coastal environment, and a critical step on the path toward a more sustainable Maine. Congratulations, Belfast!

First Annual Maine Gleaning Day! NRCM is partnering with our friends in the food waste reduction movement to kick off Maine Gleaning Day, which we hope will become a yearly tradition. Although most food waste is produced by households, waste happens at every step along the way from field to fork. Maine farmers are forced to leave thousands of pounds of perfectly good produce sitting in their fields every season. Maine Gleaning Day will be Saturday, October 14th, and we encourage NRCM members to join us at locations around the state to get your hands a little dirty and do a lot of good. All gleaned food will be donated to local food pantries. NRCM staff and NRCM Rising Leadership Team members will be participating at locations around Maine. We will send information about participating farms and locations as soon as the list is completed. Stay tuned in late September!

NRCM and Friends Bring Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain’s Movie to Portland As part of the celebration around the first Maine Gleaning Day, NRCM and our partners in the Food Recovery Coalition are bringing, “Wasted: The Story of Food Waste,” to Rines Auditorium. Click here to get your free ticket, and learn more about this Maine premiere of Anthony Bourdain’s new documentary.

Food Waste Reduction Stakeholder Group On Monday, August 7th, NRCM joined more than 30 stakeholders to find common ground around reducing food waste in Maine. The stakeholder process was requested by the Legislature based on the Maine Food Recovery Act, which NRCM strongly supported. The stakeholder process was facilitated by the Mitchell Center, with planning assistance from NRCM. The Mitchell Center will issue a report to the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee this fall. NRCM will pursue policy outcomes that help Maine reduce food waste and the many environmental problems it creates - but we'll need your help! We will let you know once the Mitchell Center releases its report and how you can help advance sensible food waste reduction policies for Maine.

The “Buttler” is Cleaning up the Streets Readers of our Spotlight on Sustainability in Maine blog may recall a post from the summer of 2015 featuring the Sidewalk Buttler. This device, invented by Mainer Mike Roylos, has since begun taking the world by storm. The Sidewalk Buttler is making its presence (and littler prevention function) a mainstay on streets across the country and around the world! According to research published by the National Institutes of Health, the vast majority of smokers do not consider cigarette butts to be litter. But they are! These filters are composed of tiny plastic fibers and do not biodegrade. Additionally, butts contain hundreds of toxic chemicals that studies have shown to be toxic to aquatic creatures even in very low dosages. You can learn more about the Sidewalk Buttler and how your city or town can clean up the streets by visiting

NRCM is Here to Help! Whether you want your town to join those with a reusable bag ordinance or eliminate food waste in your local schools, or if you know of a community group that could benefit from one of our Local Sustainability Initiative Seed Grants, we’re here to help. If you have a project and would like NRCM, please contact us: Sarah Lakeman, Sustainable Maine Project Director, or Ryan Parker, Sustainable Maine Policy Advocate.

Together, we can make real, positive impacts that will lead us toward a brighter future and a more Sustainable Maine!

Enjoy the beauty of autumn!

Sarah Lakeman, NRCM Sustainable Maine Project Director and Ryan Parker, NRCM Sustainable Maine Policy Advocate


Don’t forget to sign up for NRCM’s Action Network so that you can be the first to know when there is an opportunity to get involved.

P.P.S. Use NRCM's Explore Maine Map to find some new adventures throughout Maine this fall!

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Natural Resources Council of Maine
3 Wade Street
Augusta, 04330

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