Going greener at Green River Festival means going through garbage

  • Montserrat Archbald, left, and Mieke Geffen sort through mounds of compost at the Green River Festival on Sunday, July 15, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • The recycling and compost station at the Green River Festival on Sunday, July 15, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • Mieke Geffen sorts through compost at the Green River Festival on Sunday, July 15, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • April Noeun, left, and Marsha Stone collect recycling and compost during Green River Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • April Noeun, from right, Marsha Stone, and Beverly Cahill collect recycling and compost during Green River Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

  • The Green River Festival on Sunday, July 15, 2018. Recorder Staff/Dan Little

Recorder Staff
Published: 7/15/2018 9:30:09 PM

GREENFIELD — With bare hands and bare feet in unbearable 90-plus degree heat, Monserrat Archbald sorted through discarded food at the 32nd annual Green River Festival Sunday afternoon.

“This year, there’s more compost than trash and that’s a big win,” said Archbald, volunteer coordinator for composting and recycling at the festival.

As many as 5,000 festival-goers walked the grounds of Greenfield Community College per day during the three-day event. And while they enjoyed good food, great music and wonderful hospitality, all those people meant refuse — and a lot of it.

But the Green River Festival aimed to be even greener this year, upping the ante and trying to have a smaller impact on the environment than ever before.

Archbald said compost not only reduces the amount of garbage in landfills, but is a step beyond recycling. She said recycling “is the least we can do,” but composting is a “closed loop and is very beneficial.”

The compost from the festival eventually makes its way to Martin’s Farm in Greenfield, where Archbald said it is broken down and “eventually sold as fertilizer,” and recycling is collected by the Greenfield Department of Public Works the Monday after the festival.

“(The vendors) all had to bring compostable wares and we have really good vendor compliance,” Archbald said.

This included items like food, plates and utensils, as well as beer cups, which were made from a plant-based compound.

Archbald said increased efforts, including added signs letting people know what could be composted and recycled, went into letting visitors know what could be composted and where it could be probably disposed of.

The efforts of organizers kept the compost and recyclables separate for the most part, Archbald noted, but at times, visitors may have been overzealous with what they put where. Notable items found in the compost or recycling included a used diaper, a deceased turtle and a retainer.

Organizers had separate bins for recycling, trash and compost throughout the GCC grounds, as well as volunteers making rounds as often as twice an hour with hand carts to collect recyclables and compostable items from these bins. The carts and bins were provided by Franklin County Solid Waste, Archbald said.

All recyclables and compost were brought to a central location at the festival, where Archbald and 36 other volunteers over the three days spent four-hour shifts sifting through the many bags of compost and recycling.

Volunteers could be seen sorting by the main stage, trained by Archbald to quickly spot what can be recycled, what should be thrown away and what can be composted. They would sort through discarded food and other items on a makeshift wooden plastic-covered trough, pushing all things compostable into a trash can.

And while volunteers received free tickets to the festival for helping, their efforts were for more than listening to music.

“I volunteer because I felt you should do your part and the free pass is a bonus and extra motivation,” Jessica Rigollaud of Greenfield said while sorting through discarded food items.

“You can see on a large basis, you can really make a big impact,” Mieke Geffen of Shelburne said while sorting through refuse with Rigollaud.


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