The 2012-2016 North Country Fair Waste Reduction was Zero Waste Humboldt’s first project.
Invited by the North Country Fair board of directors, we recruited, trained and scheduled over 50 volunteers each year for this 2-day event to serve as “quality control monitors” of the seven stations that had 3 containers for sorting Recycle, Compost, and Landfill. Recommendations were developed and improved upon each year for detailing waste reduction agreements in vendor contracts. This changed the types of single use food serviceware, the methods for serving food, and even the menus vendors planned in advance for the Fair. Booth instructions were developed for all of the shifts of workers at each food vendor’s booth. Over time, the NC Fair’s waste generated decreased from 2 large dumpsters to one small container. Creating a baseline with annual data on discarded materials through accurate measuring, recording and photo documentation produced important tracking and management information for the Fair board of directors to make improvements each year. This Fair has no controls of entry point, tickets, gates, or method of restricting single use plastic and nonrecyclable/noncompostable materials. The next area of continued work that will further reduce the waste generated is to encourage the public and develop Fair infrastructure for attendees to bring their own containers and utensils for food and beverages. The North Country Fair has become a learning model for dedication to reducing waste at large outdoor events.