Maritime Museum to Quit Using Disposable Plastics

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) has a lofty goal this new year: to eliminate single-use plastics at its St. Michaels campus.

CBMM employee coffee mugs replace single-use cups on campus.

That means the museum will phase out drinking straws, water bottles, Styrofoam containers, and anything else that’s meant to be thrown out or recycled after just one use.

CBMM and the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Connecticut, are launching this initiative together, hoping to create a model for other maritime museums and their communities to follow.

“CBMM is committed to the stewardship of the environment, particularly that of the Chesapeake Bay,” commented Greenaway. “This is a ground-breaking initiative for maritime museums, and it positions CBMM and Mystic Seaport Museum in a national conversation around plastics and, particularly, our waterways,” says CBMM President Kristen Greenaway.

The community is invited to two informational sessions about the anti-plastics push, on Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 5:30 p.m. and Thurs. Jan. 17th at 3:00 p.m. in its Van Lennep Auditorium, with reservations taken at bit.ly/cbmmsustain.

“Awareness is the first step towards informed action,” said CBMM Director of Education Jill Ferris, who heads the Sustainability Committee. “We’ve spent a considerable amount of time assessing the current uses of plastics on campus and educating our employees and volunteers on ways to reduce plastic and overall waste.”

The museum phases out its existing supply of single-use plastics, and Ferris points out that alternatives to single-use plastic should be as sustainable as possible: “A wasteful alternative is not a better alternative to plastic.”

“We’ve offered tips for employees and volunteers that others can also implement very easily,” continued Ferris. “Is a plastic item necessary? What waste comes with this product? Can a plastic item be refused or replaced? If a plastic item cannot be eliminated, can it be repurposed, reused, or bought in bulk?”

CBMM will present its initiative at the Small Museum Association Conference in College Park, Maryland this February, and at the Council of American Maritime Museum’s Annual Conference in Manitowoc, Wisconsin this April.

-Meg Walburn Viviano