Hello, welcome to our new Compost/Trash/Recycling (CTR) segment.
Shakori Hills is dedicated to sustainability and my passion is helping GrassRoots Festival to be a role model in this. We work hard to protect the forest at Shakori and this segment is meant to open up discussion on how to do so. We’ll talk about what it takes to manage waste at the festival level, issues connected to ethical labor, and what we can do here at our festival to reduce landfill build up. I promise to keep it light and simple. So…
Lets open up by talking about the Recycling Rewards Raffle. This is a raffle that encourages campers to sort their recycling from their trash. The prize is a four-day pass to the next festival!
I have only been on the trash crew for about three years, so this first part is based on stories I have been told.
Cleaning in a Hurry
When Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival first started, the size of the trash pile was unexpected. All of the campers went home and there was a huge pile of trash bags left beside the dumpsters. Shakori couldn’t justify throwing everything to the landfill, so they sorted. At this time there was no trash crew it was the people who worked in the office who were tasked with this job. They tore into the bags and separated the recycling from the trash. It took a long time, but they stuck to it. Now we include compost and sort after every festival.
There are separate recycling and compost bins next to the trash cans in all public areas and, often times, Shakori goers do a great job putting their recycling in the appropriate bins. There is a lot of confusion when it comes to what is compostable versus what is recyclable. We try to use compostable disposables, one-time use products that turn back into soil. So, in the recycling bin, we find a lot of compostable cups, which is understandable. This isn’t where the bulk of the post-festival trash mountain comes from. The mountain’s bulk comes from that hectic rush to clean up campsites, to pack up vehicles, and the panic of getting to work on time. In that rush, we panic and throw everything–compost, trash, and recycling into one bag. I’ve been there. I’ve added to that mountain too, so please don’t think I’m judging!
Working Toward a Solution – The Raffle
About two years ago the trash crew lead person came up with the idea for a Recycling Rewards Raffle. He saw it as a way to motivate campers to separate their trash and recycling — a way to prevent the trash mountain. Most of the people who entered the first raffle didn’t know they were entering! They were people who stopped by the trash field, at the right time, with sorted bags, and got offered a raffle ticket. They were encouragement that the raffle would work. They overcame that panicked rush and sorted ahead of time.
As I mentioned earlier I’ve added to that trash mountain myself. In the past few years, though, I have seen and learned a lot. I have travelled to many cities and seen the trash mountains that are created every day. Because of the dedication shown in that first year we, as a community, have an amazing opportunity–an opportunity to create a model of a mountainless festival. (Not a bad joke—a good play on words) Sorting is just the first step to this mountaintop removal. We’ll talk about more steps in the future, but taking things one step at a time has proven successful.
Confusing compostable disposables and plastic is nothing to be ashamed of and won’t disqualify you. We’re just happy to see faces and to have people participating. Sorting trash was the first step shown to me about managing trash at the festival level. This is a rare situation where the environmental change started at the root of an organization. Together we can grow from that root and strip down the trash mountain. Look in the programs this summer for hours of participation in the raffle and come back for more blogs from the trash crew.