Vineyard Group Continuing Effort to Ban Plastic Bottles

OAK BLUFFS – A group on Martha’s Vineyard is continuing a two-year effort to ban plastic water bottles.

The Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) began the push to ban plastic bottles on the heels of the group’s campaign to ban single-use plastic checkout bags.

VCS says it began working on what it felt was “the obvious next step” in waste reduction. The group says the number of single-serving, disposable plastic water bottles are the most egregious and unnecessary source of waste after plastic bags.

VCS says, however, that the issue of disposable bottles presents a different challenge than disposable bags. Plastic bags could be replaced with alternatives that are more environmentally friendly and function better as a bag.

Much of the public today has a preference for bottled water. VCS says the realization that the demand for bottled water must be decreased is the conceptual underpinning of the “Take Back the Tap” initiative.

The group says its research reveals that factors motivating people to buy bottled water generally fit into two categories: quality and convenience.

VCS has undertaken educational efforts, such as the “Tap Water Challenge,” during Zero Waste Week at Tisbury School. VCS says that the greater challenge is posed by the convenience of plastic water bottles.

VCS says 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. The 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.

Refill stations were first installed at all Vineyard schools and have been recently expanding into other high-traffic public places, thanks to an anonymous donor. The refill stations can 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.

The goal is to create a highly visible network that will immediately decrease the need for bottled water.

By TIM DUNN, CapeCod.com News Center

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