I learned a great deal being away at college, one of which is my appreciation for the respect our community has for our Island’s ecosystem. At Bennington College in Vermont, I am taking a course on plastic pollution and have become aware of the damage that plastic pollution causes in both our environment and potentially our health.

I am aware that Martha’s Vineyard has taken action to reduce plastic pollution at a level that many communities have yet to achieve. I am so proud to be a part of a coastal community that has reduced its use of single-use plastic bags and continues to make its transition away from plastic straws. I hope efforts to tackle this problem will continue.

Other single-use plastics are also affecting our community. Plastic bottles and plastic bottle caps are in the top 10 of most common litter found in the ocean. On our local Vineyard roads and beaches I often see plastic alcohol nips. These are small pieces of plastic that never fully biodegrade and break up into smaller and smaller pieces. They are usually deposited at the bottom of the ocean or get ingested by marine animals.

Because we are surrounded by water is it also vital to reduce our use of polystyrene packaging, the lightweight quality of which allows it to float, making it easy for it to end up in the ocean and become detrimental to marine animals and the marine environment.

I hope our community will continue to use plastic alternatives and be aware of the impacts of small single-use items like nip bottles and single-use creamers. I would love to see a plastic-free Island in our future.

Ruby Dix, Chilmark