There are so many issues for us to collectively tackle – but perhaps above all is the environment, because if we destroy our home, where are we going to live?
What is Zero Waste?
Zero Waste started as an effort with the Nelsonville Music Festival, to transform how they manage waste at their festival. A festival generally generates tons of waste from the vendors and sheer mass of attendees that they support. Over the years, Zero Waste started by managing the trash — adding in a conveyor belt to sort trash into recycling and compost — right on the event grounds. Over time, they’ve worked closely with the vendors, to ensure they are using environmentally sound and compostable materials.
When Tyler Bonner decided to join AmeriCorps, he found himself in the middle of this project. Today, he is leading the social enterprise Zero Waste Event Productions – the leading recycling, composting, and waste management provider for indoor and outdoor live music events, sporting events, community gatherings, and conferences. They are literarily changing the approach to litter, impacting celebrations which often generate huge amounts of trash for the landfill.
What is Zero Waste about?
The company started as an AmeriCorp project within Rural Action – a non-profit in Athens, Ohio focusing on promoting social, economic, and environmental justice by training, organizing and supporting communities:
Our work is about developing the region’s many assets in environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways. We do this by focusing on sectors identified as important by our members: food and agriculture, forestry, zero waste and recycling, environmental education, and watershed restoration. Emerging work in social enterprise development, local tourism, and energy are more recent parts of our portfolio.
They continue to build new tools to help make the recycling and composting more efficient — but the main attraction is their conveyor belt. At the events, they’ll have volunteers sorting through trash — a fun bonding experience that brings back many return volunteers.
Who knew sorting trash could be fun… but Tyler explained how you’re in the middle of the festival, doing something great, visible to attendees and able to educate them — and the conveyor belt means you don’t have to touch anything you don’t want to.
They’ve achieved Zero Waste at the Nelsonville Music Festival — less than 10% of the trash ends up in the landfill… meaning 90% is either recycled or composted. Now, that’s transformative for the environment.
Most of their events are in Ohio, but they do branch out to Pennsylvania and beyond – check out their facebook page to see how you can get involved!