Melrose Recycling Committee Sponsors “BYOBag” Poster Contest

As part of an effort to help the City of Melrose implement a new ordinance restricting the use of thin-film plastic bags, the Melrose Recycling Committee is inviting high school-age students to submit designs for a “Bring Your Own” Bag poster contest.

The Recycling Committee says that it needs a poster to remind residents to “BYO” Bag when they shop. Melrose has a new law, effective July 1, that is designed to encourage residents to switch to reusable shopping bags by limiting the availability of plastic checkout bags. While most residents have reusable bags already, they need to develop the habit of bringing their own bags when they shop.

Entries will be judged on:
1. How effectively the design reminds/persuades people to bring reusable shopping bags.
2. How well the design reflects the local community

According to the Recycling Committee, the ideal poster design should be “simple and memorable, and should reflect Melrose community pride.” The committee strongly recommends that entries consider using the phrases “Bring Your Own Bag” and “BYOBag” in their designs. The BYOBag Melrose logo is also a desirable element, but not required.

The winning design will be used for both print and digital display. The typical poster size will be 8.5 x 11 inches and will be displayed in store windows and on bulletin boards around the city. It will also be produced at a large size for display in the City Hall kiosk. The design will also be used in emails and social media posts.

The winning design will be selected by a panel that includes members of the Recycling Committee and representatives from the local business community. The committee is limiting that each participating student to only one entry. Entries must be two-dimensional only. Any medium may be used –paint, pencil, etc.–provided the entry is submitted as a print-ready PDF file. By submitting an entry, all contestants agree to give the Melrose Recycling Committee unlimited use of the design with no time limitation.

Prize: First prize will receive $100.
Eligibility: Students in Grades 9-12 who either reside in Melrose or are enrolled in Melrose High School.
Timeline: The deadline to submit entries is April 1, 2018. The winner will be announced April 15, 2018.

How to submit:
• Email a print-ready PDF file to
• Your poster design should not include your name or other identifying information. Judging will be blind.
• Include your name, email address, and telephone number in the email message. Please include in the email message your grade and school attended.



Microplastics in our oceans: Data keeps rolling in

Every day there seems to be new information about how extensive the contamination of our oceans by plastic waste is, and how that waste is affecting the food chain.

On February 12, an article in the U.S. edition of The Guardian reports that microplastics–the breakdown products of plastic waste–have made their way to the most remote and uncharted seas on the planet. A research vessel taking part in the recent Volvo round-the-world race took samples of ocean water in the middle of the South Indian Ocean and found concentrations of microplastics to be surprisingly high. At a latitude of 45.5 degrees south, the data showed 42 particles per cubic meter.

“Data on microplastics has not been taken from this extremely remote area before and what we found was relatively high levels,” said Sören Gutekunst of the Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, the organization that did the sampling. “There are places in the ocean which are not being observed, and that is why it is so special for us to be doing this,” Guntekunst told The Guardian. “It is amazing that we have the opportunity and this could lead to much further knowledge about what is happening with microplastics in the ocean.”

Separately, an article published on February 12 by Oceans Deeply on its website describes how research conducted over the past 10 years shows that Alaskan seabirds are the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” when it comes to demonstrating how microplastics can move up the food chain. Oceans Deeply, which provides news about the oceans, said that endocrine-disrupting phthalates ingested by birds in the Aleutian Islands, such as puffins, crested auklets, and red-faced cormorants, are showing up in the birds’ muscle tissues and eggs. Some of these eggs constitute part of the diets of the people living in the region.

“I ate those eggs,” said one researcher who was quoted in the article.

Food for thought.

Note: the film A Plastic Ocean, an eye-popping–and heart-breaking–account of how much plastic waste ends up in our oceans and what it is doing to marine life, is available on DVD at the Melrose Public Library.