Everyone was talking about waste at the 158thAgricultural Fair. Island Grown Initiative, Vineyard Conservation Society and the MV Agricultural Society worked together for the second year on an innovative waste management system to recover food waste and recycling. Additionally, educational efforts were geared towards starting conversations about waste reduction with fairgoers and vendors.
Trash cans were completely absent from the food vendor area, and fairgoers visited one of five waste station tents to sort their leftovers. A total of 12,000 pounds of paper products and food waste was recovered to be composted at Island Grown’s Farm Hub, up from 6,500 pounds last year. An additional 16 yards of single stream recycling and 17 yards of cardboard were also recovered.
Food vendors joined the effort to reduce food waste this year as well. Loco Taco skipped wax paper to line their boats, which is coated in petroleum and non-compostable, and chose a compostable paper boat to serve tacos. Pie chicks served their delicious pies on a popsicle stick, which was completely compostable. The Floaters had root beer on tap, reducing the need for bottles. Frankie’s Flatbreads used compostable bamboo cutlery instead of the non-recyclable plastic version. The distinction and award of “Best Green Booth” was given to the WT Firemen’s Association Burger Booth for the overall best waste reduction effort; they skipped lids, straws, sold a reusable cup, and served food on compostable plates and compostable trays.
Fairgoers were encouraged to “bring your own” to the fair and were rewarded for their efforts in the education tent with a free metal straw and chance to win a grand prize of waste reduction goodies. Inside the education tent, Vineyard Conservation put together a display to encourage people to “make the switch” from common plastic household options to more biodegradable options. People were astounded at the ease of switching to bar soap, beeswrap or reusable glass containers, metal straws and cellulose sponges. An additional water refill station in the education tent, with water from Island Source, helped keep plastic bottles out of the waste stream and kept fairgoers hydrated.
A huge thank you to all of the volunteers who helped waste reduction and recovery efforts run smoothly at this year’s Agricultural Fair.