“Recycling Away from Home”, or RAH, is a joint project involving Sierra Club, Marquette Neighborhood Association, Wil-Mar Center and other community groups and activists. The goal is to provide recycling and waste reducation tools, volunteers, support and education for neighborhood festivals and events in and around Madison. We’re also trying to take the next step and move to composting and Zero Waste events. (Wouldn’t that be cool!) With your assistance, we can help communities take the next step.
We recently celebrated that Orton Park would be the first neighborhood festival on full composting. However, despite preparations by the Marquette Neighborhood Association and the Orton Park Festival, tis not to be. The City of Madison’s Composting Pilot Program is on hold, and hanging by a slender thread in terms of reinstatement. There seem to be contamination problems that would require fairly expensive equipment and the City is reticent to make the funds available. For right now, they will not accept compost from the Orton Park Festival, and may suspend collection of compost in the two pilot neighborhoods. In addition, the digester may be on hold for another year now until 2017.
This is beyond disappointing. What can you do?
Contact your alder and Mayor Soglin and tell them that this should be a priority. We are literally wasting away, and paying large tipping fees to ensconce tons of material in the landfill that could be put to productive (re)use.
How To Help RAH
Since the city does not provide recycling services at most neighborhood events, RAH takes the task of setting up recycling bins, checking and replacing bags during the day, and then tearing down after the event. It’s not hard work, and you can often drink beer, listen to music, watch people and enjoy the festival while you do it! Contact Don Ferber for info.
Join our Community Waste Reduction Team
You can also be part of our advanced waste reduction team and work with neighborhoods, businesses and community organizations to implement further waste reduction at events, including composting and reusable containers. Help us create truly sustainable festivals! Contact Don Ferber to join in.
RAH works with several summer festivals every summer in and around Madison.
Watch for volunteer shifts to be posted and we’ll see you in the sun soon!
A big part of the challenge in event recycling is giving vendors the encouragement, support and information they need to use recyclable and biodegradable materials.
To help vendors, we have compiled this list of resources and tips. We strongly encourage anyone offering services to Madison area events and festivals to do their part to cut down waste and use earth-friendly products.
Recycling Resources for Your Event
General Info: Visit the Madison Streets Division Recycling page
Recycling Bins: Clear Stream recycling collectors make it easy to recycle plastic & glass bottles, cans, and other recyclable containers at events. Simply place these easy to set-up, free standing units next to your regular trash container(s). Clear Stream units are available at no charge from the City of Madison Recycling Office if you reserve then in advance and plan to pick them up. Contact George Dreckmann, City Of Madison Recycling Coordinator, at GDreckmann@cityofmadison.com or 608-267-2626 to reserve collectors and learn more about their use for your neighborhood block party, street or park.
Festival Vendor Tips for Waste Reduction
Smart Vendor Checklist
- Store napkins behind the counter: Give only one per customer
- Limit use of disposables (plasticware, napkins, etc)
- Use “pump” condiment dispensers (refillable) instead of small packets
- Rethink food containers (i.e. is paper lining in addition to cardboard baskets necessary)
- Offer a reusable drink container and discounted refills
- Do not dispense straws or lids
- Use reusable containers to transport food to the festival site
- Use washable cloth towels or sponges to clean up behind the counter
- Use recycled products made from the highest post-consumer waste percentage possible
- When disposable items are necessary, buy recycled and unbleached paper
- Save food waste for animal consumption or composting
- Donate leftovers to area shelters
- Offer smaller portions to reduce food waste by consumers with “eyes bigger than their stomachs”
- Use non-toxic cleaners and buy cleaners in bulk, or use concentrates
- Ask your suppliers to transport products without corrugated boxes, or in reusable boxes
- Share little used items with neighboring vendors
- Avoid bringing more than you have to