Get updates from HorizonMass


A biweekly roundup of articles from the Massachusetts independent press

Commentary: Plastics Crisis Can Only Be Solved at the Point of Production
The Newton Beacon’s recent article “Newton program looks to ‘contain’ plastics pollution problem” is an example of well-meaning coverage of a well-meaning environmental program, in this case at Newton North High School, that misses the mark by making a human interest story out of what should be a hard news piece.

In brief, the program in question is working with one company that produces “BPA Free” plastic goods and another company that prides itself on selling reusable plastic containers to restaurants to offer to their takeout customers in place of landfill-busting disposable containers to sell interested students reusable containers that will be washed and stored at their school in which they can have their meals served to them.

The aim is to encourage less use of disposable plastic containers by the students. Which is a laudable goal on multiple environmental grounds. Two problems, however. 

First, “BPA Free” plastic means that the material is free of only one of many potentially carcinogenic substances found in all of the many types of plastic. The vast majority of which have not been tested to see how they affect humans. 

On the rare occasions when the US Environmental Protection Agency bans the use of a particular chemical in plastics on health grounds, the manufacturers simply switch to another of the potentially thousands of similar chemicals … all of which therefore are likely to present similar dangers to humans. But because manufacturers have thus far been able to stop the EPA from regulating entire classes of chemical compounds, this game of whack-a-mole continues unabated.

Second, the proposed remedies to systemic environmental crises like overuse of toxic plastics coupled with overuse of disposable containers of all types continue to be laid at the feet of individuals even though they are not the source of the problems. The sources remain the companies that have pushed disposable plastic containers (and disposable containers in general) and the companies that manufacture said containers.

There’s obviously nothing wrong with encouraging people to live more sustainably, but it would be much easier to do that if our government wasn’t captured by corporations and able to properly regulate how goods like disposable containers are produced, what they’re used for, and what they’re made of. Resulting in less toxics in our environment and less trash in our landfills. 

The Newton North container program would be a much more effective environmental education exercise if it grappled with these issues directly instead of just telling kids “this is all your fault, but if you eat your food out of these other reusable plastic containers that we’re claiming are safe in the absence of evidence then everything will be ok.” So, I encourage the Newton Beacon to dig a bit more deeply into these issues going forward. 

Film Review: “No Other Land” — In The West Bank, Seizing Land and Smashing Cameras
The Arts Fuse
“No Other Land” is the documentary whose Palestinian and Israeli directors recently found themselves at the center of a controversy at the recent 74th Berlin International Film Festival for criticizing Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza in their acceptance speeches. Given that the film focuses on the ungentle treatment long meted out to Palestinians in the West Bank by militant Israeli settlers protected by the Israeli Defense Forces and encouraged by the Israeli government, I’m not sure why anyone was surprised by the directors’ statements.  

New co-owner sought for Regent Theatre
Want to buy part of a cool historic theater? Now’s your big chance!

Leadership change coming to a Wellesley elementary school
The Swellesley Report
A changing of the guard in the leadership of a grammar school.

You’re listening to … WIQH
The Concord Bridge
As someone who did high school radio (under duress from a conservative administration), I could not love this piece more. And I’m really glad such stations still exist.

New proposals would alter New Bedford’s role in offshore wind
The New Bedford Light
If Massachusetts greenlights key offshore wind proposals, ports like New Bedford will be getting funds to expand.

Defense contractor fined for improperly moving hazardous waste from Plymouth airport
Plymouth Independent
Here we go: Mass defense contractor makes barrels of toxic waste disappear by flying them to Rhode Island and abandoning them on a loading dock. Lovely. And I’m sure that the $18,400 fine it’s getting from the Mass Department of Environmental Protection will ensure that it never does that again … lol, nah, of course it will. Not our problem anymore, though, as the company claims to have moved operations to Tennessee, a state noted for basically having no regulations at all. Progress! 

Newton program looks to ‘contain’ plastics pollution problem
The Newton Beacon
Full commentary above.

Seven Ipswich River Communities Get Grants to Tackle “Forever Chemicals”
The Ipswich Local News
“The funds will be used to improve water supply and treat for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl compounds, known as PFAS or ‘forever chemicals.’” How far $2.3 million will go toward that goal is anybody’s guess.

Debate over synthetic turf dominates this week’s Town Meeting
The Lexington Observer
Meanwhile, Lexington apparently can’t get enough PFAS as it just decided to cover the second of three playing fields with it before the old artificial turf on the site wears out.

Burlington Select Board Adopts New Flag Policy
Burlington Buzz
The Burlington Select Board has decided that it will be able to decide which flags it flies at its new flag pole without risking lawsuits after declaring all decisions on flags to be “government speech” subject to its sole discretion. Let’s see how long it takes for the first lawsuit to be filed.

Opponents vent at contentious stadium ‘listening’ session
Dorchester Reporter
After the Suffolk Superior Court failed to stop what amounts to the privatization of the White Stadium in Franklin Park, where public money is being used to assist a private women’s soccer team in taking over the public facility for large chunks of every year, leaders of abutting communities of color fired back at a City forum.

Lot Used by Church, Community Groups Denied Parking Permit Amid Push for Cleaner Air
Boston Chinatown civic groups are divided over the disposition of a soon-to-be-former parking lot.

Select Board Candidates Get Last Word On Forum Questions
Tewksbury Carnation
In an interesting move, my colleagues at the Tewksbury Carnation give participants in a recent candidate forum an opportunity to follow up on their remarks.

Dude, Where’s My Drive-Through?
Sudbury Weekly
The Town of Sudbury hasn’t allowed drive-throughs at businesses for 30 years. Looking back, it may have been ahead of its time.


Petition opposing MBTA zoning proposal surfaces
Marblehead Current
Hot on the heels of Milton’s questionable vote to blow off the Commonwealth’s 2021 MBTA Communities Act that requires cities and towns on the T to allow more dense housing to be built in at least one district in each municipality, a Marblehead yokel is circulating a petition to do the same thing there. On the predictable grounds (wildly overused in similar situations across the US over the last hundred years) that implementing the state mandate will somehow “threaten our town’s identity and quality of life” by creating density in the wealthy burg that would seem laughably commodious to anyone from any city anywhere.

Contentious HCA rezoning measure squeaks by, 52%–48%
The Lincoln Squirrel
Meanwhile, denizens of Lincoln voted to pass positive changes to housing-related zoning by the simple majority mandated by the state’s Housing Choice Act (pushed into being by former Gov. Charlie Baker) rather than the two-thirds vote such changes used to require. There was some drama but also some successful deal-making between different factions to make passage possible by Lincoln’s Town Meeting..

Mass MoCA Strike Ends After Three Weeks
The Shoestring
The museum workers’ strike I commented on at length in the last IndyMass was resolved when MassMOCA agreed to meet some union demands. Hopefully a positive action for the workers on the balance.

Remembering Sarah-Ann: A driving force in media — who didn’t drive
The Bay State Banner
I join many media folks in mourning the loss of Sarah-Ann Shaw, an African-American broadcast news pioneer and strong supporter of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, who I had the pleasure of working with on a couple of (media and political) projects.


1) “The city should recognize this discrepancy”
A look inside the WPD equity audit
Worcester Sucks and I Love It
It’s worth reading this and the following article together. Two very different approaches are taken on articles about two different but related reports. This piece is very critical and the other one very even handed. Before deciding which one you like better, I recommend comparing the way this piece covers mentions of the Worcester Police Department’s use of ShotSpotter, a technology my BINJ crew has hit very hard in the past on similar grounds to the ones you’ll see here, versus the way the next story does. 

2) “Worcester’s issues not unique”; report reveals crime trends
Worcester Guardian

Economy still shaken by Covid and Ukraine contributes to hikes in water and sewer bills
Cambridge Day
Municipal bills go up for Cambridge property owners because of increases in labor and materials costs due to the pandemic and supply chain issues due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

IndyMass is produced for HorizonMass, the independent, student-driven, news outlet of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, by Jason Pramas and is syndicated by BINJ’s MassWire news service. Copyright 2024 Jason Pramas.

Jason Pramas is executive director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and editor-in-chief of HorizonMass.

Thanks for reading and please consider this ...

We see the importance of a strong media and the pitfalls of a lack thereof. If you appreciate articles like this and would like to see more please donate to help keep important news like this available for all to see.

Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism not only produces news but works with emerging journalists to help them shape their work and provide vital information to the public.

Started in 2015 BINJ has had dozens of hard hitting news articles that has impacted corporations and government behavior as well as shed light on what's happening where no one else is looking

BINJ operates on an undersized budget hitting far above it's weight class and is one of the leaders in local news and provides leadership in the local news ecosystem.

With your help BINJ can grow beyond it's small staff and strong cohort of freelancers to continue to provide more quality journalism for years to come.
Support Local

Or you can send us a check at the following address:

Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism

519 Somerville Ave #206

Somerville, MA 02143

Want to make a stock or in-kind donation to BINJ? Drop us an email at and we can make that happen!



Related posts:

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To The HorizonMass Newsletter