Home‎ > ‎Sustainability‎ > ‎

VCS Island-Wide Recycling Initiative

VCS Island-Wide Recycling Initiative

The VCS Island-Wide Recycling Initiative is gaining momentum. Building on the flagship collaboration that brought recycling to the Steamship Authority, VCS has started working with various other Island groups to help them more responsibly handle their waste.

In August, we partnered with the Agricultural Society to bring single-stream recycling to this year’s fair. And at the big summer event of the Martha’s Vineyard “Slow Food” group, we tackled not only recyclables, but also biodgradable waste. Biodegradable materials account for 20 to 30 percent of what goes into landfills and incinerators across the country, so removing them from the waste stream and putting them to good use is an important element of any comprehensive waste reduction plan. We wanted to show how it could be done, and thanks to a few tireless VCS board members, our efforts were a success.

At the Slow Food event, we set up each waste station with one bucket for food scraps to be fed to pigs, and another for non-edible biodegradables, destined to be turned into compost. Patrons who forgot their own utensils were provided with corn-based biodegradable tableware, supplied by Eco MV, which could be added to the compost stream. After the event, Island farmer Andrew Woodruff took this material for composting at Whippoorwill Farm, while the slops went to feed the pigs at the Allen Farm.

The Slow Food potluck was a great test run for September’s Living Local Harvest Fest. For Living Local, VCS upped the ante by publicly declaring that this was to be a zero-trash event. This was a large-scale commitment on our part, and genuinely demonstrated sustainability in action. 

Every aspect of the day was designed to heighten awareness of resource conservation. Vendors were required to use only biodegradable products; waste stations were strategically placed throughout, accompanied by instructions; and kids were trained as monitors to oversee their use. Even the water supply was a model of sustainability: instead of being sold in pint-sized throwaway bottles made of petroleum products from who-knows-where, drinking water from our Island aquifer was available for free—but biodegradable cups were a dollar apiece, to encourage conservation and reuse.

Our waste-reduction effort continued into the evening, as VCS volunteers helped with the potluck cleanup while local musicians kept our spirits high.  Once again, compostables and pig slops went to local farms, and remarkably, only three barrels of trash were generated during the entire event. Everything else was recycled, eaten, or given back to the earth.

What’s next? You tell us. If you know of a venue or organization that’s ready for recycling, tell us about it. Contact VCS Communications Coordinator Kaysea Hart at 508-693-9588,  or at kayseahart@vineyardconservation.org.