April 27 through May 1 was Green Week at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. With a theme of Purple Goes Green, the event was planned and organized by the student council. “All 750 students knew about Green Week and participated in one way or another in the programs,” said student council president Maxwell Nunes.
Each day had its own agenda: composting and recycling, buying and eating local products, green careers, water, and saving energy. During the last class of the day on Friday, all the lights in the school were turned off. Flow, the acclaimed documentary on the world’s water crisis, was shown school-wide on classroom television monitors and on the big screen in the auditorium.
From Monday through Friday, the school cafeteria served food on biodegradable trays, plates, and bowls and the students ate their food with eco-friendly utensils made from corn or sugar cane.
Green Week was sponsored by Eco MV, a local business on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. Owner Mark Martin is dedicated to finding and selling environmentally sound products, using a percentage of profits to benefit the community and creating jobs for Islanders.
In a new twist on living local, Mr. Martin buys his products in bulk and has them bottled and packaged in the store by high school students, giving part-time work to Vineyarders instead of paying off-Island corporations for the finished product. The store has just installed a “filling station” where customers can bring their bottles back for a refill, thus reducing the consumption of plastic bottles.
Mr. Martin envisions a time when schools, the hospital and other Island institutions will use only environmentally friendly containers and cleaning products. “It won’t come without any added cost,” he said, “but we’re trying to get it down as much as possible. The more of these products we order, the lower the price goes. If you factor in the cost of trucking our trash off-Island, and the potential income from locally produced compost, the costs of corn or plastic products are even closer.”
Mr. Nunes said it took about three months to organize the weeklong event at the high school. “By chance I ended up at Eco MV and they were really helpful and supportive,” he said. Eco MV donated the week’s supply of biodegradable items for the school cafeteria, along with 150 bottles of boxed water in biodegradable boxes. Student council members sold the water for $1 a box to raise money for the school’s composting efforts.
Assistant principal Carlin Hart said Green Week was initiated by the students, many of whom had been questioning some of the school’s policies. “The kids were asking us, why is the school selling water in plastic bottles? Why is the cafeteria putting food on Styrofoam trays?” he said, adding:
“The student government and kids really participated and clearly want to be involved in making the school more green. I was amazed to see the seniors picking through the trash — with gloves on — to be sure that no compostable materials got into the trash.”
Mr. Nunes and Mr. Hart thanked Mr. Martin for his sponsorship. They also praised cafeteria manager Rick Ackerly for being supportive. “It was really great to see everyone work together to make this event happen,” said Mr. Nunes.