North Country Fair Leads the Way with Zero Waste

August, 2014

For the third year, the annual North Country Fair will demostrate progress toward becoming a Zero Waste event. While resource conservation and recycling have been core values of the Fair since its beginnings in the 70’s, those principles are being expanded upon and updated to incorporate Zero Waste thinking into more aspects of Fair decisions and operations.

ZWH has worked closely with Fair director Matthew Cook and the Fair board, the Same Old People, for the last two years to develop Zero Waste strategies and more rigorous waste monitoring and measurement that can serve as a model for other local events. Some apects of Fair operations have changed to accomodate better waste prevention and management policies, and much depends on the cooperation and assistance of vendors, organizations and community partners to succeed over time. Requiring vendors to comply with a Zero Waste policy to participate in the Fair is an important part of the process.

These are some important steps to successfully integrate Zero Waste principles into Fair planning and operations:

•    Banning the sale or distribution of single-use plastic water bottles.
•    Developing convenient alternatives of refillable cups/bottles and water coolers and hydrations stations on the Plaza at the Fair.
•    Banning single-use foodware that is not compostable or recyclable by the Fair systems.  Zero Waste Humboldt (ZWH) and a Fair board subcommittee will determine which utensils, napkins, food and beverage containers will be acceptable for vendors to use, and ZWH will provide training.
•    Discouraging the use of cup lids, stir sticks, and straws by only providing to them upon request.
•    Discouraging the use of single-use plastic bags.  ZWH will recommend better alternatives to vendors.
•    Encouraging all vendors and participants to use and sell products made from recycled content that are reusable, recyclable, or compostable.
•    Loaning containers to food vendors to capture their booth food prep waste at the Fair for composting.

The systems for recovering discarded materials for recycling and composting are established and successful at the Fair.  This year, with assistance from ZWH, more effort will be focused on advance communication, training, and technical assistance for vendors to prevent waste generation in the first place. Material from the Fair that is reused, recycled, composted, and disposed will be monitored, measured and documented and the Fair will report to the public each year on its waste reduction progress.

Research repeatedly indicates that the single most influential factor in reducing the amount landfilled and maintaining quality control for recycling and composting  at large outdoor events is a well-trained crew of monitors. The ZWH crew staffs each waste station at the Fair, and the number of our cheerful, helpful volunteers grows each year. Trainings will again be offered prior to the Fair for those interested in participating.  To join the ZWH crew, email Bring a friend!

Also mark your calenders for a workshop for community event organizers to be held on Wednesday, November 5, 4:30pm at the Humboldt Area Foundation.

Refillable Revolution

Joining this summer’s “Refillable Revolution” of many fairs and festivals across the U.S., the North Country Fair and Zero Waste Humboldt are also implementing a pilot program of sales of limited edition refillable/reusable souvenir pint cups from Kleen Kanteen. Through the simple, thoughtful  act of purchasing a reusable cup, Fair attendees will be doing their part to minimize the Fair’s environmental impact. This year when you attend the North Country Fair, September 20 and 21, please join this community-wide effort to reduce waste and conserve natural resources. Join the Zero Waste spirit and buy your reuseable souvenir cup at the Fair!

Contact Zero Waste Humboldt