Since 1965, the Vineyard Conservation Society has been dedicated to preserving the environment of Martha’s Vineyard through advocacy, education and the protection of the Island’s land and water. As a local non-profit membership organization, VCS is the Island's most respected voice for environmental advocacy.
Now more than ever, our island has put into action a few initiatives that are all about sustainability, reducing our waste as a community, and overall figuring out ways to protect the environment and our surroundings. That’s where the Vineyard Conservation Society comes into play, with a team of members and volunteers that are consistently trying to educate and support our island communities with new ventures in the earth friendly world. Below we’re sharing some of those initiatives and ways you can support them - whether you live on island or are visiting for a weekend!
The old adage of “reduce, reuse, recycle” has evolved into a more concise message of “refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle”. The need to add the word refuse before everything else is to put a focus on reducing out plastic waste by first of all even refusing to have it come into our lives! Simply saying “for here”, “no straw please”, “I have my own bag, thank you” are ways we can refuse accepting excess waste from coming into our homes and lives, ultimately limiting the amount of plastics and waste going into landfills.
In correlation with refusing and reducing plastic way, the easiest way that Islanders have adopted is to bring their own. Bring their own everything, including but not limited to: water bottles, coffee mugs, reusable bags, eating utensils, metal/bamboo straw, and more! Bring your own instantly reduces your waste and allows the message to be shared about how important it is to reduce our consumption of plastics! One great example on island is what Croning’s Market in Vineyard Haven is doing, where they have a great bulk section where you can bring your own jars from home to tare and refill easily!
Water Refill Stations
“Two years ago, following on the heels of the campaign to ban single-use plastic checkout bags, VCS began working on what we saw as the obvious next step in waste reduction. When considering all the factors, it was the enormous number of single-serving, disposable plastic water bottles that, after plastic bags, were the next most egregious and unnecessary source of waste.
However, the issue of disposable bottles presents a different sort of challenge than disposable bags. Plastic bags could be seamlessly replaced with alternatives that are not only better for the environment, but also better at the core function of a bag: getting your stuff home from the store. We were confident then, that should it pass at Town Meeting, the bag ban would grow to be overwhelmingly popular.
Unlike plastic bags, though, much of the public today has a sincere preference for bottled water. The realization that we must decrease the demand for bottled water is the conceptual underpinning of the “Take Back the Tap” initiative. Our research revealed that the factors motivating people to buy bottled water generally fit into two categories: quality and convenience. To address concerns over the taste or cleanliness of tap water, we began educational efforts (such as the “Tap Water Challenge”during Zero Waste Week at Tisbury School). However, it is the second issue — convenience — that may pose the greater challenge. Life moves quickly, even on Martha’s Vineyard, and to keep pace, we have grown to rely on a degree of convenience unimaginable a century ago.
This is why we believe the most important accomplishment to date of the Take Back the Tap program has been the installation of water bottle refill stations across the Island. These machines get at the root of both sets of motivators, quality and convenience, by providing chilled, filtered water — not just for free, but also more quickly than buying a bottle from the store or vending machine. Thanks to a generous anonymous donor, refill stations were first installed in all of our schools, and more recently we have been expanding into other high-traffic public places. Stations can now be found at the Boys & Girls Club, the MV Ice Arena, the Agricultural Hall, the Oak Bluffs and West Tisbury Libraries, and the Edgartown and West Tisbury Town Halls, with more locations still to come. Other locations (that we can't take credit for) are- MV Hospital and YMCA. The goal is to create a highly visible network that will immediately decrease the need for bottled water, while over the long haul demonstrating to residents and visitors alike that we are very fortunate to have excellent drinking water on our Island — we should be using it!” Jeremy Houser, Communications & Ecologist for Vineyard Conservation Society
27th Annual VCS Earth Day Beach Clean-up
Saturday April 20th 10am to 12 noon, with after party at the Sailing Camp from 12 noon to 2pm
Protect Wildlife, Beautify Your Island, Celebrate Earth Day, and Kick-Off Spring — All in One Great Family-Friendly Event
It's easy to go green this Earth Day: join your friends and neighbors in the Earth Day Beach Clean-Up! Just head out to your favorite beach at 10:00 am volunteers will be there with everything you need. Afterward, join VCS at the Oak Bluffs Sailing Camp for great food, a free raffle, and to compare your treasure hunting stories. From 12:00 to 2 pm relax over lunch with other beach cleaners. This year we are making sure there is enough food for even the late-comers. No hardworking beach-cleaner should go without some refreshments! This is a ZERO WASTE event; if you have a reusable water bottle, please bring it with you!
So next time you visit Martha’s Vineyard, make sure to see what environmentally friendly initiatives are happening and please support them!
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