again we’ve reached the time of the year when spring quickly gives way
to summer. These warmer days are naturally suited for outdoor events -
‘Tis the season of backyard cookouts, farmers markets, street fairs,
community celebrations and music festivals. And let’s face it -- these
events can generate a whole lot of waste.
Did you know that a 3-day street fair with a draw of about 5000 people
will generate approximately 6 tons or more of waste? That’s a lot of
waste that will need to be collected, trucked to and disposed of in a
local landfill. And the saddest part is that a significant amount of
this waste really isn’t waste at all. With a little effort, the majority
of it could be recycled and/or composted.
Going Green Services
has partnered with Appalachian Ohio Zero Waste Initiative (AOZWI) for
the last couple of years to help divert waste from local landfills
during festivals and events in Southeastern Ohio. AOZWI is coordinated
by Rural Action, and they collaborate with communities to build local
wealth and environmental health by supporting the development of a zero
In simple layperson's terms -- they keep trash out of the trash
and reroute it to recyclers and compost depots in order to support a new
type of economy.
A new type of economy? Really? According to
the Global Alliance for Incinerator and Landfill Alternatives report in
2010, it is estimated that recycling, re-use, and composting efforts
typically create six to ten times as many jobs as waste incineration and
landfills. Doubling the national recycling rate could create over 1
million new jobs. No longer out of sight, out of mind: A new way of
thinking about our waste can improve our economy and the environmental
health of our communities.
In 2012 Going Green Services was initially asked to provide
support to AOZWI to help the Nelsonville Music Festival reach their Zero
Waste event goals.
The issue is this -- Food vendors provide
meals, drinks, snacks and other food items that require large amounts of
service-ware. Think about all of the cups, plates, cutlery, napkins,
straws, lids and to-go containers needed to feed 5000 people over three
days. Not to mention the large amounts of food waste that are discarded
by the patrons. And guess what? It all gets thrown away. Waste is such a
What is our role? We provide education and service
model consulting free of charge to the food vendors and we offer
environmentally friendly compostable service-ware to them at a
significantly reduced cost. We deliver directly to them at the festival
during set-up and we assist during the weekend to assure that no one
runs out of product. And because the event organizers contractually
require that all vendors use compostable products they can assure that
almost all of the vendors’ waste is actually compostable or recyclable
and can be diverted from the landfill.
Does it really make a difference? Let the statistics
speak for themselves. The Zero Waste initiative at Nelsonville began in
2011 with the introduction of 3-bin Resource Recovery Stations and the
measurement of all collected waste. Compostable service-ware
requirements were introduced in 2012 and fully implemented in 2013.
* The full 2014 statistics are not yet available; % provided based on festival weights.
^ In 2013 the Nelsonville Music Festival was recognized as being one of
the 6 Most Sustainable Music Festivals in the country by Outdoor
As you can see, it really does make a difference but it takes a village!
Everyone needs to be on board to support the effort. The event
organizers need to be dedicated to the effort,
and that dedication needs
to flow over into all of the appropriate contracts, marketing,
information and, most importantly, event planning. A slew of volunteers
are needed either to sort the waste or to staff the Resource Recovery
Stations in order to provide education and to assist the patrons with
the disposal of their items. The vendors (food and other) need to be on
board as well and they need to understand why the event is undertaking a
zero waste initiative, why it’s important to the community, and how
they can help.
In 2014 Granville Kiwanis is beginning their journey to convert the Granville July 4th Celebration into a Zero Waste event.
Under this year’s theme of “Granville’s Going Green,” Kiwanis will
begin the transition and lead Licking County in its first ever large
scale Zero Waste movement. It’s a big undertaking and there will be
growing pains along the way. So if you attend the event, look for the
Resource Recovery Stations and do your part to help make the effort a
success. Going Green Services will be there to help -- we have the
experience and the knowledge to provide real world assistance and
training to all of the participants. We hope that this is the first of
many years of depriving our landfills and supporting the emerging
economy of recycling and composting in Central Ohio.