Local Spotlight – January, 2012

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This is part of an ongoing series in which we will feature ways Post Growth is in action already.  The intention of this series is to inspire ideas about how to engage intentionally in our communities.  Please visit our Post Growth in Action web page for more. 

Trash and Recycling Bins

As a board member of the Sunshine Musicfest, I am very interested in knowing how to run the event with as small a footprint as possible.  This festival already prides itself on being small and cozy, running entirely on volunteer efforts, and supporting local businesses, artists, and musicians.  But one area that can always be improved is waste.

Understanding that it takes time to make changes, each year we take additional steps towards greening up the festival.  Here are some of the things we have already done to move in this direction:

1. Provide drinking water, free of charge, for all festival-goers who have reusable containers, restrict the sales of bottled water by food vendors, and sell reusable, stainless steel water bottles at the festival.

2. Place restrictions on the use of disposable plastic be food vendors, and require the use of biodegradable plates.

3. Have highly visible and well-signed composting and recycling stations (we still have garbage bins as well, but are working away from that!).

4. Service a volunteer-run dishwashing station for the ‘hospitality tent’ – which feeds all of the musicians and volunteers at the festival.  Historically, the hospitality tent has been one of the biggest producers of waste at the festival since it feeds such a volume of people, so this is a step towards curbing the waste meaningfully.  We bought our reusable ceramic plates and bowls and our cutlery at the local ‘Hospital Auxiliary Economy Shop‘, which is a not-for-profit second-hand store.

5. Request that the emcee remind festival-goers between sets about mindfully using the zero waste stations.

Even though we have been patting ourselves on the back about how far we’ve come, we are certainly nowhere near the end of this greening up process.  This year Powell River’s Let’s Talk Trash team supported us by overseeing all of the recycling, composting, and garbage at the event.  Coco and Abbey and their team worked tirelessly for two days (not to mention all of the work before and after the festival!) to create the ‘zero waste stations’, make signs, empty the bins, and sort through them all to ensure nothing was needlessly going to the landfill.

They reported back to us some of the successes, as well as areas for improvement.  Based on their recommendations, here are some additional steps we hope to take for Musicfest, 2012:

1. Have two volunteer-run dishwashing stations – one for the hospitality tent, and one for the general public.  Source all of the dishes for all food vendors at the Hospital Auxiliary Economy Shop.

2. Include information about hosting a ‘Zero Waste Event’ (provided by Let’s Talk Trash) as part of the food vendor applications, and place restrictions on the use of things such as disposable plates and bowls.

3. Collect corn cobs from the festival-run corn booth for pig food (for local farmers), rather than composting them.

4. Improve signage for zero waste stations, including reminders to ‘think before you throw,’ and attach sample items to the top of the various bins.

5. Provide a script for the emcee, to ensure thorough reminders about the use of the zero waste stations throughout the festival.

6. Include reminders for festival attendees to bring their own plates and cups in the promotional material for the festival.

The Let’s Talk Trash team has already committed to supporting the festival again in 2012.  I would say developing this community partnership has been one of the most valuable pieces of learning emerging from this process.  Collectively taking on the responsibility for these kinds of changes lightens the load, provides inspiration, and increases the chances for success.  And recognizing the changes taking place at this local festival as part of broader global movement inspired by other festivals that have done (or are doing) the same is also an important way to recognize the value of grassroots initiatives when it comes to systemic change.

If you know a local post growth initiative in your area that you would like to cast the spotlight on, please contact us.

Image credit: epSos.de on Flickr Creative Commons

Published by Janet Newbury

Janet Newbury has a PhD in Child and Youth Care, teaches at the University of Victoria, and is actively involved in various community-based initiatives in Powell River, BC. She lives on the West Coast of Canada.