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Summerfolk festival goes green

Lindsay Jones | October 28th, 2019


Owen Sound, Ontario, has been home to the Summerfolk Music and Arts Festival for the past 44 years. Drawing in crowds from near and far, it is typical for thousands of attendees to pass through the festival gates throughout the weekend-long gathering. Recently, festival administration and volunteers have had waste reduction top of mind for this annual event.

 
 
 

Owen Sound, Ontario, has been home to the Summerfolk Music and Arts Festival for the past 44 years. Drawing in crowds from near and far, it is typical for thousands of attendees to pass through the festival gates throughout the weekend-long gathering. Recently, festival administration and volunteers have had waste reduction top of mind for this annual event. In 2018, Summerfolk partnered with The Grey Bruce Sustainability Network and Busch Systems to begin implementing an improved waste management program to reduce material sent to landfill. The 2018 partnership efforts provided a baseline of information on waste diversion levels and identified what improvements were needed. 

Summerfolk Festival 2019

Image by Jer Harman Lifestyle Wedding Photography

In 2019, partners began implementing improvements for waste management at the event. The focus for this year focused on education and engagement of attendees. A dedicated group of Green Team volunteers drove forward initiatives to encourage proper waste diversion such as the addition of a Pollution Solution informational tent, helping attendees sort material in high-traffic areas, and improving signage used on containers to better identify recycling, compost and waste streams.

In preparation for the 2019 festival, Busch Systems continued to support Summerfolk Green Team with pre-festival organization and set-up. The Busch Systems Waste Diversion team helped prepare the educational “Pollution Solution” booth and collected service ware from vendors to facilitate sorting education. During the festival, attendees visited the booth to learn about the importance of waste reduction and how to properly sort common items at the festival. Busch Systems provided complimentary recycling containers to attendees at the Pollution Solution tent to encourage recycling within the community beyond the festival.

Busch Systems Waste Diversion Team helping set up Pollution Solution Tent

Busch Systems Waste Diversion Team helping set up pollution sollution tent

In 2018, the compost steam accepted food waste only.  In 2019, the Green Team was able to expand collection of organic material at the festival to accept a wider range of items including napkins and compostable service ware. New this year, the festival also implemented a plastic bottle ban requiring the use of reusable cups and bottles instead. Water buggies and coolers were made highly accessible to attendees, performers and vendors throughout the grounds. As part of the waste reduction goal, Summerfolk is beginning to implement a policy that will require food vendors to provide only compostable service ware. All of these improvements to waste management operations contribute to the festival’s progress towards eliminating waste sent to landfill.

Even those involved with the festival outside of the Green Team took waste reduction into their own hands! One waste reduction advocate volunteering to feed festival set-up crews chose to use reusable dishes and cutlery instead of disposables. Two donated Multi Containers transported used dishes and cutlery to and from the festival to be cleaned. This amazing initiative prevented a substantial amount of waste from being created had disposables been used. This extra effort reflected the common mission of those involved with Summerfolk, placing high importance on preventing unnecessary waste from festival operations.

Busch Systems Multi-Recyclers used to transport dishes at the festival

Busch systems multi-recyclers used to transport dishes at the festival

The Green Team at Summerfolk festival has been making great progress towards waste reduction. The 2019 event introduced a number of new Green initiatives to minimize waste and educate attendees. The Green Team was able to collect a substantial amount of feedback and suggestions from festival partners, attendees, vendors and administration to continue improving in the years to come. Busch Systems is proud to support Summerfolk Festival as they continue to strive towards the future of zero waste at this annual event!

Stay tuned for a vlog on the festival’s 2019 sustainable efforts.

Lindsay Jones

Waste Diversion Specialist

 
 
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