Nips (miniature liquor bottles) are small, but they’ve been creating a big problem at Wareham Land Trust’s Tweedy and Barnes Conservation Area in West Wareham. Tom Kinsky, the volunteer land steward for this property, has collected close to 700 Disaronno nips there since last December. The tiny glass bottles are found by the dozens in a concentrated area along Blackmore Pond Road, bordering Tweedy and Barnes. The habitual pattern has lead Kinsky to believe that some person is buying a nip every day, drinking it on the road, and chucking the bottle out the window before they get home.
Kinsky first noticed the accumulating nips on his bi-annual land steward monitoring trip last December when he collected an astounding 300 bottles from the roadside. The volunteer land steward has collected at least 150 bottles on each monitoring trip since then. “The person is choosing [this area] and thinking just because it’s woods it’s not gonna bother anybody, but it bothers me and it bothers everybody else who walks or jogs or goes by here and sees the trash,” Kinsky said.
Littered nip bottles have become a noticeable problem in Wareham. In 2014, Wareham’s Selectwoman, Judith Whiteside proposed the board of selectmen initiate action to ban the sale of liquor nip containers as a public safety and environmental issue. To support her case at a Board of Selectmen meeting in May of 2014, residents Jim and Mary Bruce brought four large trash bags full of nips they collected from one stretch of road in West Wareham.
Nips were not banned in Wareham but they continue to litter the roadsides. Cathy Phinney, a retired nurse and a life-long Wareham resident said of the nips, “they’re everywhere you can’t go out without picking up at least a dozen of them. I find it very discouraging as someone who routinely picks up trash. I don’t know how you change the attitude but that’s what needs to happen.”
Kinsky stops by Tweedy and Barnes every three to four months to clean up the reappearing nips because he realizes value in keeping natural spaces clean. The Restoration Ecologist for Buzzards Bay Coalition, Sara Quintal, explained that if the nips were left where they are, they would beat out plants and other organisms by blocking sunlight and taking up space on the soil’s surface. As the bottle slowly decomposes, it poses a major risk to wildlife. If the bottle breaks, those shards of glass could injure animals who are searching for food in the area. Should an animal ingest a glass shard, it will most likely cause serious health issues or even death.
While chucking trash out the car window may seem like a quick and easy solution, it has a lasting effect on community land and community members. Protected forests and wetlands like the Tweedy and Barnes Conservation Area greatly benefit Wareham’s residents, wildlife, and water. These open spaces provide recreational opportunities, protect critical wildlife habitat, and act as natural filters that capture, absorb and remove pollution before it can reach waterways.
“The land is there and we’re all benefiting from it with our cleaner water and our calmer lifestyle whether or not we’re on the properties ourselves,” Kinsky said. The Wareham Land Trust is made up entirely of volunteers just like Kinsky who are passionate about preserving Wareham’s open space and irreplaceable natural resources for the benefit of everyone.
A great way to thank the Wareham Land Trust for their efforts is to get out on the trails that they maintain for everyone’s use. Everyone is encouraged to dispose of their trash responsibly and maybe give a friendly wave to someone you see cleaning up the roadside. If you want to support the Wareham Land Trust’s mission, you can join, donate, or offer assistance as a volunteer. We depend so much on the time and efforts of residents who are often unsung heroes assisting with these ongoing needs. A special thank you to Tom Kinsky and Cathy Phinney for being pro-active, model citizens that more of us should emulate!
—Michaella Sheridan, Outreach Coordinator MassLIFT/ AmeriCorps
The Buzzards Bay Coalition & The Wareham Land Trust