Editor’s Note: The Utah Arts Festival is happy to accept more volunteers to assist with the eARTh Team. For those interested and who are willing to commit at least three hours of service, they can check in at the festival’s volunteer check-in booth, located near festival grounds on 400 South between 200 East and State Street.
Eleven years ago, The Utah Arts Festival began extensive environmentally friendly measures at the festival, including a trash recycling program and a bike valet lot that have grown by substantial proportions in recent years as festival attendance pushed close to 100,000 last year.
With each year of experience, the learning curve becomes that much easier to master, as festival organizers can identify the best ways to ensure visitors confidently know which types of trash can be recycled and in which bin it should go. And, staff and volunteers are especially vigilant about reducing the volume of waste that would end up at a landfill and ensuring that recyclable plastic, cardboard, aluminum, paper, and glass are being processed within the state, according to Margaret Grochocki, the coordinator for the festival’s environmental program who also supervises the festival’s eARTh team. Grochocki will be assisted by Jerry Walker.
‘Once again, we’ll be sending out the vegetable oil used at the food booths to a local business that converts it into bio-diesel,’ Grochocki adds.
The four-day event resulted last year in more than 21.2 tons of materials being diverted for recycling or other purposes – more than 32 percent higher than in the 2010 festival.
Festival staff managed to capture more than 18.6 tons of plastics and cardboard, 2.3 tons of glass, and 675 pounds of ‘green’ and food waste, which can be composted.
Joining the team again this year is Momentum Recycling, a local firm committed to helping organizations move toward zero waste, will be assisting. Since 2009, the firm has helped its clients – which range from nonprofit community organizations to condominium complexes in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area – collect more than 5 million pounds of recyclable materials.
Indeed, every small action has potential multiple-effects impact. In 2008, festival organizers eliminated the use of plastic bags in disposal bins that alone saved more than $4,000. Also, 2010 trash recycling figures spiked dramatically upward from the previous year, a trend that grew even faster with last year’s record festival attendance. For example, in 2010, staff and volunteers were able to capture two and one-half times more materials from the blue bin receptacles than in 2009, and nearly three and a half times more cardboard, glass, and green waste in the same period.
Grochocki is confident that the trend will extend this year, especially as greater numbers of festival visitors already are adopting eco-friendly practices in their homes and places of work.
Festival organizers also will continue the free bike valet service, sponsored by Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky program, and, as further incentive, cyclists will get a $2 discount on their festival admission.
In the last three years, the program has grown by an average annual rate topping 25 percent. In 2011, 2,104 cyclists used the valet service, compared to 1,590 in 2010. Typically, almost one-third of cyclists who used the valet service come on Saturday during the festival. Members of the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective will serve as lot assistants, which is located on 400 South, adjacent to the City-County Building on Washington Square at the midpoint of the block between State Street and 200 East.
During one day of the festival, visitors also will be able to see some elements of the solar-powered automatic kiosks and bicycles that will be available for checkout, which are being rolled out as part of the city’s new bike share program, coordinated with the SLC Downtown Alliance.
For more information about the festival, see here.
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