The Vineyard Conservation Society is calling for the voluntary elimination of polystyrene Islandwide.

“It’s one of the worst plastics there is for the environment and human health,” said Signe Benjamin, programs and membership coordinator for VCS.

To that end, VCS is asking selectmen in all six Island towns to place a nonbinding referendum on their town meeting warrants this spring.

Polystyrene, widely used in packing materials, flotation devices, coolers and food containers, is probably the most easily recognized form of polystyrene, but VCS education and youth coordinator Samantha Look said the material has other, widespread uses.

“It also comes in a rigid plastic form,” Ms. Look said. “We probably bump into it most commonly as disposable cutlery.”

She has been making the rounds in Island towns, asking for the nonbinding warrant article.

The material is considered a likely carcinogen, Ms. Look said, and its use in food containers can add to the risk. But VCS is chiefly concerned with the solid waste problems posed by polystyrene use. While polystyrene may be recyclable in theory, Ms. Look said that doesn’t happen in real life.

“The foam is full of air,” she said. “It doesn’t make economic sense to recycle it, so it’s not recycled.”

Proposed language the warrant article specifies polystyrene products local businesses are encouraged to avoid, including plates, cups, bowls, trays, cartons, containers, straws, stirrers, and new packing fill such as packing peanuts.

Ms. Look emphasized that the group is not seeking an outright ban on polystyrene products, as it did with single-use plastic bags in its successful 2016 campaign.

“That was a regulation. This is a resolution,” she said.

This year’s referendum more closely resembles the youth-led 2016 campaign to wean Island businesses away from plastic drinking straws, she said.

“Our community has done a pretty awesome job thanks to the students’ campaign to move away from straws,” Ms. Look said. “Businesses have made an incredible effort to switch to paper or stop using straws.”

Many Island businesses have also made the switch away from polystyrene, she said. For others interested in changing over, VCS has a list of other materials.

“There are great alternatives, and lots of them,” Ms. Look said. “All sorts of paper-based products and all sorts of other types of plastics.”

She said disposable packaging continues to pose a challenge that is drawing nearer.

“Solid waste is going to become a bigger and bigger issue, and I think we’re going to have to be increasingly careful about the waste that we create,” she said.

“I think what our message has been, and continues to be, is looking for more systemic change that allows for greater use of reusable materials.”