Plastic Free MV wins environmental stewardship award

Members of Plastic Free MV were awarded the CARE Youth Stewardship Award for their work reducing single-use plastics on the Island. — Lexi Pline

Plastic Free Martha’s Vineyard, the group of fifth and sixth grade environmental activists who pushed a ban on single-use plastics in up-Island towns, received the annual youth stewardship award presented by Creating a Responsible Environment (CARE) for the Cape and Islands.

At the beginning of this month, the group was presented with the award for its work in creating and lobbying for a ban on single-use plastic water and soda bottles in Chilmark, Aquinnah, and West Tisbury.

Led by West Tisbury teacher Annemarie Ralph, the students’ efforts to change the way the Island looks at plastic waste stood out among many other group and individual initiatives. 

According to an achievement announcement from CARE, the students “showed a commitment to caring for the Cape & Islands, and have adopted day-to-day practices that fit CARE’s mission to preserve and protect its natural environment, cultural or historical treasures.”

Director of CARE for the Cape and Islands Jill Talladay said it is impressive to see such young kids taking action to address such a major issue in today’s world.

“These kids have really stepped up and done some incredible things that most kids don’t do at their age,” Talladay said. “They spoke at town meetings, tried to educate people, and really took a stand.”

Talladay also mentioned the students’ ongoing efforts to find ways to ban other forms of waste on the Vineyard, including their Straw Free MV campaign to ban plastic straws. The students are planning to bring articles before voters in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Tisbury this spring.

“It’s an impressive team effort for these kids to make such a difference in their community,” Talladay said.