NELSONVILLE, Ohio - Recycling made a big impact at the Nelsonville Music Festival due to the work of volunteers.
At May's festival in Athens County, more than 150 volunteers worked to divert 3,090 pounds of discarded materials from the landfill through composting and recycling.
Organizers said it was a two-fold increase from last year's diversion rate. Rural Action's Zero Waste Initiative organized the recycling and compost effort for the festival. Volunteers worked to collect and screen hundreds of bags of trash, recycling and compost to ensure that every bit of compost and recycling was captured.
Four all-star recycling volunteers pause for a photo.
Musicians gave shout-outs for the recycling and composting efforts that helped create a green vibe, according to a press release. Music publications like Paste Magazine wrote about the effort.
"Aside from the nicest of volunteers and vendors, a bevy of recycling and composting stations highlighted NMF's green efforts," the magazine reported.
Volunteers said they felt great about putting in the effort that made it happen.
"It definitely made me feel like I was giving something back to the event. I will definitely be back next year," said Ken Hart, first-time festival attendee and volunteer from Ashland, Ky.
Due to audience participation and volunteer sorting efforts, more than 1,234 pounds of recyclables and 1,856 pounds of compost were collected inside the festival gates. Volunteers also collected and sorted more than 600 pounds of aluminum cans.
Proceeds from the sale of the cans will help fund the recycling and composting efforts in future years. Recycling this amount of aluminum saved 3,900 kilowatt hours, festival officials said.
"The composting and recycling efforts at the NMF would not have been possible without the help of so many dedicated, engaged volunteers," said Zero Waste AmeriCorps volunteer Rose Keyes. "Every volunteer I talked to was genuinely interested in the work and excited to be able to help in such a tangible, hands-on way."
Post-consumer composting made its debut at this year's festival and boosted the numbers. Almost a ton of food waste, paper towels, napkins and compostable service was kept out of the waste stream.
Mike Minnix, with Eartha Limited, an event sponsor and compost service provider, said the festival was leading a movement to make the festival self-sustaining.
"Nelsonville Music Festival should not only be proud of the hard work and positive results, but for their leadership role in helping make festivals across the region more sustainable," Minnix said. "My experience working with the Zero Waste Initiative was very positive ... I was thoroughly impressed with not only the strategy but also the implementation of procedures and practices."
For 2013, Stuart's Opera House and Rural Action have plans to make Nelsonville Music Festival a true zero waste event by recycling or composting 90 percent of all discarded materials.
"This is an amazing event that really shows how a community can work together to create a positive experience" said Kyle O'Keefe, coordinator of the Zero Waste Initiative for Rural Action. "Everyone, including vendors, attendees, volunteers and sponsors, contributed to the effort. I believe we'll be aiming for 90 percent or better next year."
New strategies for waste diversion will include requiring vendors to serve food only on compostable or recyclable service ware. Brian Koscho, marketing and promotions coordinator for Stuart's Opera House, said they hope to do more composting back stage and in their hospitality areas as well as increase the educational efforts.
Other waste-reduction efforts will continue, including reusable beer mugs, filtered refillable water stations, solar power, and GoBus transportation to Columbus and Cincinnati, Koscho said.
The Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative is coordinated by Rural Action in partnership with the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University.