The Ultimate Simple, Smart, Sustainable Handbook to Martha’s Vineyard



Where (and how) to recycle, compost, volunteer, write your rep, and buy secondhand.


All six towns have the same rules for what can and can’t be recycled.


Metal cans

  • Primarily food and beverage cans
  • Empty and clean washed

Plastic containers

  • Bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs
  • Empty, wash clean
  • NO caps or lids

Glass Containers

  • Bottles and jars
  • Empty, wash clean
  • NO caps or lids
  • NO ceramics, NO windowpanes

Paper and Paperboard

  • Office paper, junk mail, newspaper, magazine, paperboard boxes
  • Empty and flatten, NO shredded paper
  • NO pizza boxes
  • NO books with bindings

Corrugated Cardboard

  • Empty and flatten
  • Remove packing tape
  • NO pizza boxes
  • NO waxed boxes


  • Recyclables in a garbage bag
  • Garbage 
  • Plastic bags or plastic wrap
  • Food or liquid
  • Styrofoam items or packaging materials
  • Clothing or linens
  • “Tanglers”: Hoses, wires, chains, electronics


Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, West Tisbury:

  • Dual sorting system
    • Cardboard and paper go together
    • Plastic containers, tin cans, aluminum cans, and glass go together

Oak Bluffs (local drop-off): 

  • Dual sorting system
    • Cardboard, newspaper, and paper go together
    • Everything else single-stream 

Tisbury (local drop-off):

  • Dual sorting system
    • Cardboard and newspaper together
    • Everything else single-stream

Oak Bluffs, Bruno’s Drop-Off:

  • Dual sorting system
    • Separate cardboard
    • Everything else single-stream

Bruno’s and ABC’s Pickup Recycling Rules:

  • Single bin, don’t need to separate materials

Aspirational Recycling Rules:

  • If you’re unsure about whether something is or is not recyclable, it’s better to throw it out. If recycling bins are contaminated with too many nonrecyclable materials, the entire bin will be thrown out. “When in doubt, throw it out.”
  • ABC’s & Bruno’s 
    • No-waste policy: if there is any nonrecyclable material, bin is thrown out
  • MVRD:
    • Similar, but more materials-dependent. Food waste and oil contamination are more no-tolerance, whereas materials like plastic bags and Styrofoam are more tolerated. 
  • The biggest mistake Don Hatch of MVRD sees:
    • Putting plastic bags, plastic wrap, or cellophane plastic in recycling


Accepted Items

  • All meat and fish (including bones, lobster shells, and eggshells)
  • All dairy
  • Grains, nuts, seeds, flour products
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Tea bags (staples removed)
  • Coffee grounds and coffee filters
  • All flowers
  • Paper napkins and paper towels 
    • Unless they have toxic products that will not break down with high heat on them

Not Accepted

  • Large amounts of oyster, clam, littleneck, mussel shells 
    • Contact the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group to recycle these!
  • Fat/oil/grease
    • Small amounts in the form of leftover prepared foods are fine
  • Compostable serviceware
    • IGI piloting this in August
  • Plastic or trash of any kind 

Where to take compost

Compost buckets are available for free at IGI’s offices in West Tisbury or at town transfer stations. To request a bucket, contact IGI or call 508-687-9062.

Drop-off locations (currently all free)

  • Transfer stations in all towns except Aquinnah
  • Chappy Ferry dock 
  • IGI’s farm: Address is 80 Stoney Hill Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, website is

The best way to reduce food waste is still to shop and cook mindfully, repurpose foods that are close to expiring (smoothies! soup!), and even reorganize your fridge to be more aware of perishable items.


Polly Hill Arboretum grounds volunteer

Volunteers are welcomed to work with staff at the 70-acre West Tisbury public garden on activities like planting, pruning, weeding, and mulching. Volunteers can learn more about gardening and apply their new skills to their own landscape. PHA will provide tools, but volunteers should bring gloves and wear outdoor attire. Volunteers welcome from 9 am to 12 pm on June 3, July 1, August 5, Sept. 2 and Oct. 7. Contact Ian Jochems for more information. Have fun getting in touch with your green thumb!

Glean with Island Grown Initiative

Located in West Tisbury, Island Grown Initiative is a nonprofit organization that works to build a regenerative and equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard. Volunteers can help Island Grown Initiative harvest fresh, local produce for Islanders in need. No experience is needed, as your field captain will provide a harvest demonstration and tools. Gleaning lasts for around two hours, and volunteers may even keep a share of the harvest for themselves. Sign up here. Happy harvesting!

Great Pond Foundation

The Great Pond Foundation is a nonprofit organization focused on enhancing the health of the Edgartown Great Pond. While volunteer opportunities are currently limited due to COVID-19, future volunteers are encouraged to assist with its Ecosystem Monitoring Program and educational outreach events. Potential volunteer opportunities include aiding in water quality and biodiversity data collection, conducting surveys of pond species, helping staff with demonstrations of scientific concepts, and assisting with science communication. These opportunities are especially perfect for anyone with an interest or background in STEM! For updates on volunteer opportunities, visit

Community Greenhouse of Martha’s Vineyard

Community Greenhouse of M.V. is a community organization in Oak Bluffs to gather and grow food and plants and learn together. They have a range of year-round volunteer opportunities for all mobilities and level of expertise. On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 12 pm, volunteers can work inside and outside to help with weeding, pruning, seeding, planting and beautifying plants — really any activity that nurtures thousands of beautiful plants and vegetables. Members have the added benefit of picking fresh produce! There is no need to sign up for these days; one can simply show up. Toni Kauffman, who helps with volunteers, has described this opportunity as “soil therapy,” so make sure to check it out!


Got something to say about pending legislation? Want your voice heard?


  • Governor Charlie Baker: 617-725-4005; Twitter: @MassGovernor; Instagram: massgovernor


  • Senator Ed Markey: 617-565-8519; Twitter: @EdMarkey; Instagram: edmarkey 
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren: 617-565-3170; Twitter: @SenWarren; Instagram: elizabethwarren
  • Representative William R. Keating: 508-771-6868; Twitter: USRepKeating


Donate or sell your unwanted clothes and household items; reuse someone else’s!

Chicken Alley Thrift Shop:

  • 38 Lagoon Pond Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568
    • Hours: Sunday – Monday, closed; Tuesday – Saturday, 11 am – 5 pm
    • Sells: nearly everything! Clothing, furniture, dishware, glasses, decor, knickknacks, etc. 

Martha’s Closet:

  • 79 Beach Road, No. 9, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568
    • Hours: Sunday – Monday, closed; Tuesday – Friday, 11 am – 5 pm (Saturday to 6)
    • Sells: women’s clothing

Second Treasures MV:

  • 61 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568
    • Hours: Sunday, 12 pm – 5 pm; Monday, 10 am – 5 pm; Tuesday – Wednesday, closed; Thursday – Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm
    • Sells: antiques, collectibles, jewelry and artwork 

Want to see something else included? Email us.

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Bluedot Living magazine is published quarterly (three times in 2021) by The Martha’s Vineyard Times, publishers of The Martha’s Vineyard Times weekly newspaper, Martha’s Vineyard Arts & Ideas Magazine, Edible Vineyard Magazine, The Local, The Minute daily newsletter, Vineyard Visitor, & the websites,, &

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