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Champions and innovators
10/11/2018 12:59:25 PM

Zero-waste events gain momentum in Oxford County

Three days of food, 13,000 people and only one bag garbage.

Ingersoll’s Canterbury Festival generated a single bag of garbage in its first year as a waste-free event. This year, it was less than half a bag of garbage going to the landfill.

Almost seems impossible, given a single household often generates a bag of garbage each week, but organizers of the annual folk festival are champions at hosting a zero waste event.

image dishwashing at canterbury festival

“It is very clear, it’s an idea that is spreading. An idea that is taking quantum leaps forward,” says Future Oxford Environmental Pillar Chair Bryan Smith. “It’s aspirational as they say in marketing – it’s really seen as desirable.”

Holding a zero waste event is a simple way to demonstrate your commitment to the community. By hosting a zero waste event, you are providing a valuable service to your participants, and you are reducing the dependence on landfills.

Canterbury’s success has also helped other community groups strive to achieve similar results. This year, Sweaburg and District Lions Club eliminated garbage cans at its annual fish fry, where about 600 people were served using reusable dishes. Using resources from Transition to Less Waste and Future Oxford Zero Waste Planning Guide, the fish fry created no waste.

The Lions Club recently shared its experience at Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show, which also demonstrated a commitment to working towards zero waste. From designated bins for cardboard and product packaging, to having clear recycling bags at each garbage station, Smith said they saw “a significant reduction in garbage,” at the show that typically sees about 40,000 guests.

“It’s just amazing how you can scale it up or scale it down and adapt it to another circumstance,” says Smith, adding organizers of the Highland Games in Embro are also interested in going waste-free.

Zero waste events aren’t for everybody, so be prepared to encounter some unenthusiastic guests who may not understand your waste separation system, or why you are doing things this way. Have a few simple statements prepared for staff and volunteers to explain why this is important and why everyone should participate.

Just imagine how easy it would be to turn your child’s next birthday party or your friend’s baby shower into a garbage-free event. Be innovative and use recycled material as a fun element to a kids’ party. Or replace plastic stir sticks with Popsicle sticks, which can be washed and later used for crafting with your kids. They are also compostable.

If we all make a commitment to go green one small party at a time, we will make a difference in our Future Oxford.

Be a champion!  Download the Zero Waste Planning Guide.

cover image of zero waste guide

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