Important First Day for Vermont’s Bill to Ban Microbeads

This morning, the legislative push to ban microbeads from being sold in Vermont began with testimony to the Fish and Wildlife Committee. House members David Deene (D) Windham-4, Jill Krowinski (D) Chittenden 6-3, and Patti Komline (R) Bennington-Rutland, are cosponsors of the legislation to ban the sale and manufacture of microbeads in Vermont, House Bill 4.

Advocates from the Lake Champlain Committee, Seventh Generation, and VPIRG testified in support of H.4 as introduced and applauded the positive language in the bill.

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From left to right: Seventh Generation’s Martin Wolfe, VPIRG’s Taylor Johnson, and The Lake Champlain Committee’s Lori Fisher.

VPIRG’s Taylor Johnson began with an overview on the issue of microbead pollution, and reported the 1,000+ petition signatures VPIRG was able to collect from Vermonters in support of a microbead ban.

Lori Fisher from the Lake Champlain Committee discussed the ecological effect of microbeads on fish and wildlife, and how that impact can be passed onto humans through consumption. She referenced the disturbingly high concentration of microbeads found in the Great Lakes, and, drawing parallels, urged the committee to take action as soon as possible to protect our own treasured waterways.

Martin Wolfe from Seventh Generation spoke from the perspective of a cosmetics and home care product manufacturer who refuses to use microbeads. When asked, Wolfe revealed that despite the industry’s ubiquitous adoption of microbeads, Seventh Generation never even considered them for their formulas because of the non-renewable nature of the plastic beads. Wolfe pointed out that the inventors of microbeads did not consider the end-life impact of their product on waterways, leading to the situation we and advocates for clean, healthy waterways now face.

Recent statements from Governor Shumlin have laid out the Administration’s commitment to clean up and preserve our crown jewel, Lake Champlain. With so many different water issues to consider this legislative session, VPIRG and our allies are grateful to the Fish and Wildlife committee for their recognition of the serious threat microbeads pose, and thank them for their consideration of the bill as well as the other work they will be faced with on the quest to better Lake Champlain!

For updates on the progress of the bill, stay tuned here on our website and on Facebook. If you haven’t already, please sign our petition to lawmakers!