I just got off the phone with my green festival (http://www.greenfestivals.org) team and received some great news about our resource recovery initiatives. The SF green festival (Nov 10-12) had 36,200 attendees in addition to over 400 green businesses. This is an enormously dense logistical operation and takes us about 10 months to produce. To make the event work requires extensive support from a massive team of volunteers. This year we had a record 800+ volunteers! When we add the speakers that brings the total closer to 1000.
One of the most significant offerings the volunteers make is supporting our resource recovery operation. The hurdles to green events are enormous – it is fairly easy to do outdoor events since they generally don’t have the complexity of large numbers of vendors, which adds considerably to the amount of materials that need to be collected and sorted. We do an extensive amount on the front end to minimize the amount of materials brought into the event, but certain things like products shipped in cardboard boxes and so forth simply can’t be mitigated.
This was our 5th event in SF and we have improved each year the amount of total “waste” diverted into a resource recovery stream. This year, we had physically the biggest event to date from any city and we increased our overall resource recovery from 84% last year to 96.3% this year! This is huge since the total amount of discarded materials grew significantly. From a total amount of 21,224 pounds of discarded material only 930 lbs went to the landfill.
This is really unprecedented and is such an exceptional testimony to the dedication of all the people that work on Green Festival to continually improve our sustainability business model, but also to the hard work and dedication of hundreds of volunteers who literally spend hours picking non-compostables out of the compost stream or separating out trash from the recyclables. It isn’t pretty and it doesn't smell good. I’ve done it at numerous events and I can attest to how much value these people are bringing to green festival. I have a huge appreciation for all the people in San Francisco and the Bay Area who came to participate and collaborate to help make this not only the world’s largest sustainability event, but one of the greenest!