Horticulture News: From 2 pickup loads to 2 bags

Field Day goes waste free

By Kim Cowherd Published:

The 54th Annual Farm- City Field Day was on Thursday, July 12.

You may have read Phil Case’s article about his experience at Field Day in the paper on Friday, July 13. Phil described many of the interesting and educational happenings that day at the farm owned by Sherman and Gail Peyton. Here is another one you may have not heard about yet – for the first time ever, the Field Day went “waste free.”

When there is a community event that is attended by 600 people, and includes food, paper programs, giveaway items, and other trash generating activities, it makes an impact on the environment. This impact can have negative repercussions by contributing to the landfill unnecessarily, causing sanitation issues, and contributing to general pollution of the planet.

Much of this type of waste can be diverted through recycling in to other products, reusing for other events, repurposing into a different use of the item. Also much of the waste can be composted, whether by a special commercial compost system or in local, smaller compost systems, which can include home composting for some items.

We decided to do something about this negative impact this year by redirecting the waste from this year’s Farm-City Field Day. The Field Day planning committee committed to thoughtfully carry out our event and generate as little waste as possible. Representatives from several organizations assisted, including Bluegrass PRIDE Program Planner Joanna Isaacs and Franklin County Solid Waste Administrator Greg Butler who provided support, instruction, education and coordination.

Frankfort High School Earth Club members Stephen Spizak, Jeri Howell, Maya Burke and Catherine Baxter assisted with waste collection and education. Also assisting with waste collection were members of the 4-H Teen Club, Michelle Basham, leader. 4-H members helping were Christian Thompson, Hailey Studler, Emily Bohrn, Katie Basham, Deonte Watson and Jenna Hockensmith.

CAREFUL PLANNING

To prepare for the day, each detail had to be carefully planned. Special commercially-compostable table ware, including forks, knives, plates, cups, napkins, and biodegradable trash bags were specifically purchased for Field Day. These items must be made of plant starch and have no plastics in them. (For more information log on to: http://www.ecoproducts.com/a_message_about_our_cutlery.html. And this is only one brand of this type of product.)

Signs for the various waste bins were made. Everything used that day that was considered “consumable” was weighed. Portable, heavy duty scales used in cattle handling aided in taking accurate measures of everything, before, during, and after Field Day. Locating a source for a drinking water station so not to use bottled water had to be done.

Arrangements for handling the compostable waste were made in collaboration with the Lexington/Fayette Urban County Government’s Live Green Lexington program and Bluegrass PRIDE. Arrangements for recycling were made with the County recycling contractor to bring and pick up bins at the farm.

On the day of our event, the Waste-Free Team discussed what needed to be done with the various types of waste generated that day and why going waste free is important.

The Field Day team set up 14 waste collection stations in the food service and eating area. These stations consisted of a recycling bin, a composting bin and a trash bin. Each station included descriptive signage for our various types of waste (compostable/food, recyclable, and landfill), which included pictures of items that went in the specific bins.

The 4-Hers and Earth Club members stood beside the bins and helped Field Day attendees decide where each food and non-food item should go when they finished their lunch.

At the end of lunch, the team donned gloves and looked into each bag to ensure that everything had been disposed of properly. They collected the green bio-bags for compost, black bags for trash, and clear bags for recycling, and brought them to the scales to be weighed.

PHENOMENAL RESULTS

The end result was phenomenal!

In the past, all trash and waste went directly to the dumpster and then on to the landfill at the conclusion of Field Day. Usually this has been two full-size pickup trucks loaded with black trash bags and all kinds of waste.

This year, the black trash bags numbered TWO! Yes, that is right – just two bags of trash weighing a grand total of just 16 pounds. The contents included used Styrofoam coolers, plastic bags from hamburger buns, foam trays and plastic wrap from the raw beef, and various other non-recyclable plastic. They were hauled away in the corner of a small pickup truck that was filled with many other items from Field Day.

Recycling items included paper programs, cardboard boxes, a few aluminum cans, some plastic bottles from the condiments, a small number of glass bottles, and bags from the charcoal used for grilling. These items filled up about three-fourths of a recycle bin, like the ones you put out on your curb. The recycling waste weighed just 39 pounds.

The remaining waste was all commercial composting waste. The compost consisted of the special cups, plates, knives, forks; paper towels and napkins; and all food scraps including bits of meat and bread. This waste, packed up in the green biodegradable bags, did fill the bed of a full size pickup truck. The grand total of this type of waste was 282 pounds!

The composted and recycled wastes from Field Day were directed in ways that are more environmentally sustainable and friendly for the planet. These wastes did not go to the landfill where they would most likely never degrade or where they might contribute to air, soil, and water pollution.

ITEMS WILL BE REUSED

Recycled waste will go to make more paper products or other items that can be reused. This also saves trees!

Commercially composted waste goes to a special commercial composting site in Lexington that can handle this type of waste, which includes food. In order for items to be composted at a commercial facility, they must meet national standards for this type of composting, as described previously.

Other items must be labeled compostable, such as plates and cups. At the commercial composting site that waste will be mixed with some yard waste that has been collected, ground up and turned, and watered until it becomes actual compost. From there it may be used for landscaping or other gardening uses.

The participants at Farm- City Field Day and the Waste-Free Team found that the process was easy to accomplish. People felt good that they were able to be environmentally responsible with their trash. Everyone felt they learned something new about recycling, composting and waste at Field Day.

Hopefully this can be a start for our community to think about how we handle wastes from sources other than homes and businesses. Maybe more events large and small will consider being as waste-free as possible!

If you are interested in having your event be waste free, or need information on commercial composting, plant starch cutlery, or any other information on going “green,” contact me at the Extension Office. Or contact Greg Butler with Franklin County Government, Solid Waste Management, 875-8751, fcswa@franklincountyky.com; or Bluegrass PRIDE, (859) 266-1572, http://www.bgpride.org/.

The Franklin County Extension Office can be reached by phone 695-9035 or email DL_CES_Franklin@Email.UKy.edu.

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