Dick Pough, one of the Island’s early conservationists who helped found the Vineyard Conservation Society more than fifty years ago, once said that if the Vineyard environment is to be saved, it will come down to decisions made by individual landowners about their properties.

A good corollary would apply the same logic to non-landowners as well: preserving the beauty and health of the Island will take small efforts on the part of many people to reduce their energy footprint.

The plastic bag ban initiative backed by the conservation society and approved in five of the six Vineyard towns at annual town meetings this year is one such step, representing a collective decision to change individual behavior.

The new bylaw, adopted in every town except Oak Bluffs, will phase out single-use plastic bags, such as the type used in produce departments of grocery stores, beginning next year. Edgartown and Aquinnah amended their versions of the bylaw to delay the start date of the ban to 2018 to allow business owners time to adjust and use up old stock.

Far from unprecedented, the plastic bag ban is part of a growing movement in cities and towns across the country. And while eliminating single-use plastic bags is unlikely to shake the world, at the very least the bylaw symbolizes an effort to keep plastic out of the sea that surrounds us, as Samanatha Look said at the Aquinnah annual town meeting this week, the last town meeting to take up the VCS initiative for the year. “As an Island community we should be great stewards of the ocean,” she said.

We are confident that the Oak Bluffs voters, given the opportunity to consider the issue, will agree. The selectmen, who pulled the proposed bylaw from the town meeting warrant at the last minute this winter after bowing to pressure from business interests, have indicated they just needed to give merchants more time to weigh in. And several business owners, who claimed they were caught unaware by the bag ban, have softened their opposition. Last month just before the town meeting season began, leaders at the Oak Bluffs Association, which represents town business interests, told the Gazette that the association has no formal position for or against the bag ban — and does not intend to take a position on it.

There have been rumblings in Oak Bluffs about changing the size and kinds of bags covered by the ban, but there is little to be gained by passing a bylaw that sets a standard different from the rest of the Island.

Five towns have spoken. Come on, Oak Bluffs, let’s get the question back on the next special town meeting warrant and let the voters decide what they want for their town.

It’s a small step, but an important one.

Mr. Pough would no doubt agree.