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Green Standards for Local Events

Posted Oct 01 2009 11:06pm
This post about green standards is written for the Green Mom’s Carnival which is hosted this month by  In Women We Trust.  When I hear of green standards, I first think of the work that is being done by a group in my hometown, the West Lafayette Go Greener Commission.  We, in this group, formed a committee that deals with green standards for local events. We did this to increase awareness of environmental issues generated by public events like festivals and art fairs.

Last year, 2008, very few festivals or fairs in our area recycled waste.  Usually the first and largest festival of the season is the Taste of Tippecanoe.  Last year, I remember looking at the barrels of waste, lots of styrofoam and plastic and feeling disgust.  Nothing was being recycled, yet vendors were making a profit and festivarians were enjoying the food.   We needed to do something about this.  The next event was the Indiana Fiddler’s Gathering   whose organizers had arranged for recycling.   The recycling at this event received some publicity and other event organizers began to ask for help with recycling.  Actually a group of us recyclers were overwhelmed at the interest in recycling by festival organizers.  We were busy with recycling for the rest of the summer.  We found that people really do want to do the right thing; they just need someone to tell them how to do it.

This year, 2009, my recycling friends and I joined the Go Greener Commission so that we could work with a city government entity.  A committee, the Green Events Committee   came up with certain minimal standards that were expected of an event if it was to be considered green.  If theses standards were met, the event would be advertised as a green event by Go Greener.

The basic green standards:

The event must provide
1. Recycling for aluminum, glass, and plastic
2. A location for the Go Greener booth at the event - This provides a meeting place for volunteers and general information about becoming a green event.
3. Environmentally friendly transportation - A choice of several options were suggested like bike racks, a map of public transportation, or special parking for green vehicles like hybrids.
4. Encouragement to event food vendors to become greener by making them aware of Go Greener information meetings - At these meetings we discuss how to complete some of the requirements.

Additional requirements for Gold certification (a step up from the basics):
5. Use compostable materials for plates/cups/silverware
6. Provide free bulk water for participants and discourage bottled water

These standards are easily met by an event.  We purposefully made them that way so that vendors would not be discouraged and stop trying to be green.  Next year we will probably require numbers 5 and 6. 

Almost all of our local festivals participated this season.  We estimate that we cut the amount of waste going to the land fill by one half!  The learning curve was really steep this year.  Hopefully, next year will be even better. One event, Global Fest agreed to use compostable dishware, so there was almost no waste sent to the landfill.

This is the Bag Monster from Chico Bags visiting Riverfest on the Wabash River.  What a great way to get a point across to people!

You may live in an area where similar green standards are the norm, but most smaller towns do not have these standards.  We found that people really want to do the right thing and just need a little organizing and encouragement.  One thing that really helped us was a grant from Tipmont Rural Electric that allowed us to purchase 90 X-frame recycling bins. We can now lend these to events that are interested.  If you are interested in starting a similar movement in your town or county and have questions just email me at
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