Plastic Free MV wins environmental campaign contest

Members of Plastic Free MV, shown here during a tour of Cronig's last spring, recently won an award for their single-use plastic bottle bylaw.

Plastic Free MV, the group that recently championed a bylaw in all up-Island towns banning small, single-use plastic water and soda bottles from sale, is again making waves after winning a silver award at the Bow Seat Marine Debris Creative Advocacy Competition.
The competition challenges teens from around the world to design and lead creative campaigns that teach others and inspire action to reduce or prevent marine debris.

Bow Seat is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization that merges ocean science and arts education to inspire the next generation of environmental stewards, according to their website.

The students of Plastic Free MV were recognized for their efforts in rallying community action on environmental issues, and teaching people the importance of reducing plastic consumption.

More than 250 students worldwide participated individually or in groups in the competition to protect the ocean or their local watersheds.

West Tisbury schoolteacher and head of Plastic Free MV Annemarie Ralph said Bow Seat has been a valuable source of information for the group in the past, but when she found the contest, she knew the kids had to enter.

“We always look at Bow Seat for information on various initiatives,” Ralph said. “We found the contest, and I thought, ‘The kids have already done this.’”

After finding out about the contest in April, Ralph and the kids worked to compile content and information about their campaign over the course of six months.

The group of young environmentalists submitted videos to Bow Seat of them presenting their bylaw at town meeting, along with many of the flyers they distributed to the Martha’s Vineyard community. 

Plastic Free MV received $2,500 in prize money, and Ralph said that money will allow the group to further its initiatives and continue to spread its message.

“We are thinking about getting some sweatshirts, but this money provides us with many other opportunities also,” Ralph said. 



  1. What is their goal? Most plastic bottles on the island are recycled, turned into energy or safely placed in landfills. Do they understand our economy is tourist oriented and they are the beneficiaries of that income? Do they think 10 to 12 thousand tourists a day will come to our shores carrying a water bottle? We do a great disservice to these kids not educating them about reality.

    • You might wanna look around. Pretty much everyone under 30 already has and uses a reusable water bottle. It’s been a thing for quite some time. Sell some with a MV logo on it. There, problem solved, instant souvenir.

  2. Bs– why not expect tourist to bring a water bottle ? If they don’t have one when they get here, they can buy one, and perhaps realize how impractical it is to buy bottled water.
    I don’t see the disservice. Reality is that the world is awash in single use everything. reality is that some of these get into the ocean and contribute to the deaths of marine creatures. Reality is that over the long run, they break down into microscopic particles that get into the food chain, and we have no idea of the long term effects of that. The reality is,that the adults need the kids to tell them what reality is.

    • I applaud these kids concerns. Their energy should be focused on the 5 Asian countries who contribute 80% of the plastics into the oceans. These countries do not have viable municipal waste systems. We should be voicing our concerns to our elected officials to work towards helping these countries. A plastic water bottle on Martha’s Vineyard has a less than negligible chance of entering the food chain.

      • bs — you are correct about the 5 Asian countries that contribute a disproportionate amount of plastics into the ocean. So what exactly do you think our kids on our little island can do to stop 2 or 3 billion people and their governments from doing this ? Would you contribute to a fund raiser to fly 30 kids to India to petition their government to ban single use bottles while their own town sells them ? Judging from your past posts i don’t really think you are in favor of U.S intervention in the affairs of foreign governments. Even I, a liberal whacko, do not want the United States to spend resources to try to get some Asian country to ban single use water bottles or clean up their trash– come on—
        Your comment is a red herring–

        • They haven’t explained what their purpose is. I often hear it’s about keeping plastics from our oceans. That’s not an issue in our country. What exactly are they trying to protect? I’ve personally asked them this and they were flummoxed. They really didn’t know other than saying they were told it’s a good thing.

          • Bs– I would like to know who the “them ” is .
            But perhaps I can fill you in as to their purpose.
            Let’s start with the fact that Martha’s Vineyard sits atop an aquifer that has plenty of very clean drinking water.
            It comes out of the ground and into our homes at approximately 1 / 500th the cost of bottled water. Right — an 8 ounce bottle of tap water is about 500 times more expensive than tap water.
            There are a number of places on the island where someone can fill a water bottle with pure, filtered water at no charge.
            Perhaps the children are just trying to save the adults tens of thousands of dollars,if not millions, so they could afford a decent school. But that’s just money.
            Let me talk about labor. Pick a store, any store.. How much time is spent by the employees to unload, stock the shelves, restock the shelves, scan it at the cash register. Pretty unproductive to waste labor on an unnecessary product. Then, what happens to the empty bottle? Take a look around, there are plenty of them laying around on the ground, and if someone doesn’t pick them up, guess where they go ? Take a walk on a beach if you are curious. Ones that do get into the proper waste stream have to be transported off island — More trash, more trucks on the road, more trucks on the ferry more expense to the refuse district / us .
            And I think the trucks use gas– More demand for gas = higher prices for all of us at the pump. Plastic is made from oil– our brave young men and women of the military put themselves in harm’s way to keep the free flow of oil for THIS ? And we get some of the water from as far away as Fiji–At over $4 a bottle in some establishments. can’t get further away on this planet. More ships, more ocean pollution more whale strikes.
            And on and on and on for what ?
            Perhaps you could tell me why we should have this ridiculous commodity give the financial, labor, and environmental costs.

    • I do not believe that kids teach adults about reality. Adolescents’ brains work differently than adults when they make decisions or solve problems. Their actions are guided more by the emotional and reactive amygdala and less by the thoughtful logical frontal cortex. Research has also shown that exposure to drugs and alcohol during the teen years can change or delay these developments. Based on the stage of their brain development, adolescents are more likely to: act on impulse, misread or misinterpret social cues and emotions, get into accidents of all kinds, get involved in fights; engage in dangerous or risky behavior;. Adolescents are less likely to think before they act, consider the consequences of their actions or change their dangerous or inappropriate behaviors

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