Journey Towards Sustainability

 

Salmon Festival Sustainability - Photo Credit Brian FettGHSF Certified Logo 2While Lake Michigan salmon make their way up the Grand River, the 2015 Salmon Festival is continuing their journey towards sustainability. Building a festival that incorporates composting and recycling is just the start towards one of the most sustainable festivals in Michigan.

Dating back to 2007, the Salmon Festival started its initiative towards being a more “green” event. Since then, they have composted and recycled thousands of pounds of what would have otherwise been trash; and donated thousands of wine bottles to be reused for a variety of projects throughout the community.

The festival kicked-it-up a notch in 2011, with the creation of an official Green Team that was made up of six members from the local community that had an interest and/or had an expertise in sustainability. Composting stations were created with volunteers positioned at each one to educate the attendees on the importance of composting. World Centric compostable plates and utensils made from wheat grass and corn starch allowed attendees to go to the composting stations and conveniently toss everything into one bin. All materials from the Fish Boil was able to be processed by Chef Container, a local compost, recycle and refuse company based out of Holland, Michigan.

In 2012, the festival worked even harder to continue to educate the vendors and patrons through the use of signage and handouts of the importance of sustainability. Everything used for the Fish Boil, Salmon Cook-Off & Wine Tasting, and Entertainment Tent was compostable; plates, utensils, cups, napkins, liners and food. Compared to 2011, in 2012 the festival decreased the amount of refuse that went to the landfill by over 42%, or 3,060 pounds. All of the materials composted by Chef Container are put in a specific location dedicated to Salmon Festival. This allows Chef Container to provide feedback to the Festival Committee on how well the products are composting and able to provide more in depth analysis of the efforts. In November 2012, the Grand Haven Salmon Festival was awarded the 1st Place blue ribbon for “Best Green Practices” at the Michigan Festivals & Events Association annual conference in Traverse City, Michigan.

In 2013, our festival’s goal was to become a zero-waste-to-landfill event by our 10th Anniversary event. Our planning committee, Green Team, sponsors, partners, and volunteers worked diligently to decrease the total amount of waste produced at festival and focused on composting all waste possible. New this year, we looked at new ways we could defer waste where possible. Instead of recycling our hundreds of wine bottles, we offered them to local home winemakers & crafters for free to be upcycled into something new. Instead of composting our six bushels of stomped grapes from the Purple Romp Grape Stomp, we offered them for free to local home winemakers. Due to all of our dedication and efforts – including a little bit of dumpster diving – there were only a few lonely bags in our massive trash dumpster at the end of the weekend. Five years ago, this dumpster would have been a heaping mountain of trash headed straight for the landfill.

Chef Container was absolutely shocked at our event’s progress with our composting and recycling efforts. However, they were even more impressed with our overall reduction of total waste since we started working with them in 2011. In 2013, we only produced less than 300 pounds of refuse that was unable to be composted or recycled. As a gift, Chef Container sent our remaining refuse to be processed in a Waste-To-Energy Incinerator officially making us a zero-waste-to-landfill event! In 2014, we only had 40 pounds of refuse that was unable to be composted or recycled.  Wow!  We we thrilled with that outcome and hope to continue the good work into 2015.

The Salmon Festival also uses 100% organic cotton t-shirts for all of their volunteers. By doing so, they divert up to three pounds of pesticides it could take to make a single cotton t-shirt.

For the future, the festival also plans on tracking and recording how much energy is used throughout the event to determine where they can reduce their carbon footprint to make the Salmon Festival a more eco-friendly event with zero waste.

Our Journey Towards Sustainability By The Numbers ~

2011
– 15% of festival waste was composted or recycled
– All volunteer & event t-shirts were converted to organic cotton t-shirts

2012
– 57% of festival waste was composted or recycled
– Reduced our total waste by over 52% or 3,000 pounds compared to 2011’s event

2013
– Almost 80% of festival waste was composted or recycled
– Reduced our total waste by an additional 1,300 pounds compared to 2012’s event
– As a gift from Chef Container, our remaining trash was sent to the Waste To Energy Incinerator making us their very first zero-waste-to-landfill event!

2014
– 96% of the festival waste was either composted or recycled
– Event waste breakdown: refuse 40lbs, recyclable 160lbs, compostable 1,180lbs
– Our remaining 40lbs in trash was sent to the Waste To Energy Incinerator making us a zero-waste-to-landfill event for the second year in a row!

2015
-97% of the festival waste was composted or recycled-Event waste breakdown: refuse 52lbs (WTE), recyclable 330lbs, compostable 1,160lbs

For more information about the Salmon Festival and our Journey Towards Sustainability please email salmonfestival@visitgrandhaven.com or call +800 968 0894.