Viewpoint: Zero Waste effort diverts trash at local events
Caroline Simms and Kelli Hess
Two of Missoula’s largest events have gone Zero Waste - a significant undertaking with immense community benefit. During the Western Montana Fair and River City Roots Fest, an estimated 70% of waste produced by record-setting attendance was diverted from the landfill.
Home ReSource applauds efforts by Missoula County, Missoula County Fairgrounds, the City of Missoula, Missoula Downtown Partnership, Missoula Compost Collection, and Republic Services to implement composting and recycling priorities at these two community-building economy-boosting events.
Redesigning systems and accommodations to reduce the environmental impact of large events takes incredible commitment and is necessary to help Missoula achieve our Zero-by-Fifty waste reduction goals. Home ReSource was honored to lead these efforts that diverted multiple tons of material from our landfill.
Key 2023 successes at these events include:
● Committing to durables and recyclables. You may have noticed that water at the Western Montana Fair was available in reusable aluminum bottles, and Roots Fest cups were aluminum this year as well. Unlike plastic, aluminum is infinitely recyclable - and is recycled domestically. This important change allows us to keep valuable materials in our economy and out of the landfill.
● Requiring compostables. Over 80% of food vendors used compostable serving materials. This was a primary contributor to the amount of materials that we were able to divert from the landfill. Garden City Compost will process these materials, turning food waste into fertile soil and building circularity into our local economy. Thank you to Missoula Compost Collection and to food vendors that made a commitment to use compostable supplies.
● Green Team volunteers make it possible. This work would not have been possible without dedicated volunteers who helped to educate attendees and sort trash, recycle, and compost bins every hour at both events. The wrong materials in recycling and composting bins prevents efforts to recycle and compost - and turns those materials that could have been diverted into waste in our landfill.
Green Team volunteers picked through literal tons of waste - making sure all materials were in their rightful place. They also had hundreds of conversations with community members helping them learn the ins and outs of how to reduce waste.
● Accessibility. Educational signs and accessible waste stations were present throughout each venue to make it as easy as possible for attendees to responsibly sort their waste.
In 2018, our community made a commitment to reduce our municipal solid waste (garbage) by 90% by the year 2050 using the Zero-by-Fifty: Missoula’s Path to Zero Waste framework.
Thank you to the Western Montana Fair and River City Roots Festival, and thank you to every person who took the time to put their waste in the correct bin. These two events successfully model how we can balance priorities to build a future with less waste.
Caroline Simms, Board President, & Kelli Hess, Executive Director - Home ReSource. Home ReSource works to reduce waste and builds a more vibrant, sustainable local economy.