Tisbury reconsiders Plastic Free bylaw following protest

Student activists to seek petition for special town meeting if selectmen don’t reverse.



Members of Plastic Free MV went to the Tisbury town hall Wednesday and convinced selectmen to hold an emergency meeting Friday to consider putting their plastic bottle bylaw back on the town meeting warrant, after selectmen made a decision to remove it earlier this week

If the town decides not to reopen the warrant, the students say they’ll be ready with a petition to hold a special town meeting instead, where they will present their plastic bottle ban bylaw to the public.

Selectmen scheduled a meeting for Friday at 4:30 pm at the Emergency Services Facility to consider putting the bylaw back on their warrant. 

Town administrator Jay Grande met with Plastic Free and told them that they could petition for a special town meeting where their warrant article could be considered. The students need 200 signatures to initiate a special town meeting, according to West Tisbury school teacher and head of Plastic Free MV, Annemarie Ralph. 

Ralph said town counsel was present, and they notified the group that it was “legally possible” for selectmen to reopen the town warrant and consider the bylaw. 

“Jay was very helpful, and now we know what we need to do,” Ralph said.

The students gathered in front of the town hall Wednesday after school with signs reading, “Let the voters decide.”

According to Plastic Free MV member Runar Finn Robinson, his dad saw a Tweet from The Times that selectmen were going through the town meeting warrant, and ended up voting unanimously to remove the Plastic Free MV bylaw from the list.

“We just rushed over there after we saw that,” Runar Finn said.

Another Plastic Free member, Quinlan Slavin, said selectmen were concerned that local businesses would be hurt financially by a plastic bottle ban.

But Odin Robinson said he and a number of other Plastic Free members talked with local businesses already, and they didn’t share the selectmen’s qualms. 

Runar Finn said he doesn’t think the Island should import water in plastic bottles when we have such a high-quality aquifer on the Island. 

“Why waste money importing plastic and polluting when we could be selling reusable water bottles instead and just drinking the water that is available here?” Runar Finn said.

The kids missed the deadline to petition for their warrant article, and Quinlan said it was wrong of selectmen to remove the warrant article without notifying them, especially when it was approved last spring.

“We’ve tried calling in to talk with them and they haven’t answered yet,” Elliot Stead, one of the Plastic Free kids, said.

If the students cannot get their article back on the warrant, and if they do not get enough signatures to petition for a special town meeting, Ralph said their only option is to try and make an amendment on town meeting floor before the warrant is passed.

“We want to let the public decide whether they want this bylaw or not, just like in the up-Island towns,” Ralph said.

Updated to include the decision to hold a meeting Friday and to correct how Runar Finn Robinson’s dad found out about the decision. -Ed.


  1. What? More lies.
    “According to Plastic Free MV member Runar Finn Robinson, his dad was watching MVTV when he saw that selectmen were going through the town meeting warrant, and ended up voting unanimously to remove the Plastic Free MV bylaw from the list.”

    MVTV does not live stream.

    • The story has been updated. Actually, his father saw a Tweet from the newspaper during the meeting.

  2. Hmmm… seems to me the BOS has sunk to a new low, they have taken on the role of some moronic Disney style villains and tried to sneak one by a bunch of children. Let’s see, we have Gru, Cruella de Vil, and well Mr. Shmee. The plot would essentially follow the idea that after trying to trap them in a poisonous building the children break out and try to save the rest of the environment to be thwarted by the BOS and the Grande.
    Shame on Tisbury once again… what’s next.

  3. Would someone be so kind to post a link to the tweet. I went on @mvtimes and @lucasthors. I am a neophyte to Twitter. But I can’t find tweets from the selectmen meeting. Please include the link so we all can see it.

  4. Seems the Times is trying to make news. Wonder how the online subscription is working?
    I love not seeing that free mag being thrown on the floor of all our post offices looking like terrible litter.

  5. Can anyone elaborate on why more discussion about the available alternatives in the marketplace and their environmental impact is being dismissed and an ill conceived ban is being championed as a cure all for plastic litter. Why doesn’t the ban take into consideration plant based bottles? Compostable bottles? It does nothing to online retailers who ship via a common carrier. One size fits all ban, does not fit all and fails to produce the intended result. Just look to Nantucket and the amendments proposed on this years warrant to correct last years ban. Those that don’t know history are destined to repeat it. A PLAN not a Ban.

    • Pro Small Business, I asked about your plan in response to your comment on another article. Ideally, I’d rather businesses took it upon themselves to be more environmentally friendly by choice, but I haven’t heard anyone offer a solid plan — or really any plan — for how to go about that.

  6. I bake at home. My whole-grain recipes use small amounts of orange juice, so I buy 12 oz. bottles, hoping it won’t spoil. If the bylaw changes I’ll have to buy a container larger than a quart. More than half will spoil by the time I can use it all. Plus, all single-use beverages have deposits or are recyclable. What is wrong with the current system?

    • BFranklin, my understanding is that small bottles will still be sold. They’d have to be from brands that package their drinks in something other than plastic.

      • Sorry Aquinnah,

        First they came for the water bottles
        And I did not speak out
        Because I was not a water drinker

        Then they came for the flavored water
        And I did not speak out
        Because I was not a flavored water drinker

        Then they came for the plastic coke bottles
        And I did not speak out
        Because I was not a coke drinker

        Then they came for the Pepsi plastic bottles
        And I did not speak out
        Because I was not a Pepsi drinker

        Then they came for the orange juice
        And there was no one left
        To speak out for my OJ

        love how nobody pays attention to 2 inch fangs comments. Nothing to offer to a reasonable conversation. Those types of comments are the reason why people shift to the other island paper.

      • Or you could buy a larger container of OJ, pour servings into ice cube trays, pop them out and freeze those, and store your small portions that way in the freezer. Where there’s a will there’s a way!

  7. The ban the students are proposing is only for single use plastic water and soda bottles under 34 oz. Orange juice is not part of this bylaw.

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