Capital Projects Budget Request

The Oregon Country Fair

Waste-Free in Three (years)


Introduction ................................................1

1st Year Logistical Description ..................1

Budgetary Numbers ....................................2

2nd Year and Beyond .................................2

Letter from Site Management ..................3

Waste Warrior Program Description ..........4


For the past four months, a dedicated group of fair family members and recyclers have been working on plans to reduce the 33 tons of garbage produced by our annual event. Our goal is to create a waste system for the Oregon Country Fair that achieves maximum recovery of discards and minimum disposal into the landfill. This is easily possible within 1-3 years by composting all biodegradable trash (paper and food products) that is not recycled and avoiding non recyclable materials.  The end result will be a potential decrease in garbage fees of $800 - $900 annually, an ecological foot print more in line with our environmental concerns, and healtheir plants and soil throughout the fair site.


We have identified a twofold quantification of the problem of Solid Waste at the Fair site. That is, the surprisingly large amount of garbage our earth loving event amasses comes from two primary sources. One source is the Fair attendees, our lifeblood. They come, they eat, they discard the food service containers we give them (usually doing a great job of following instructions), and then they leave. This portion of the waste stream can easily be eliminated by using only paper food service containers and composting them.  Food vendors at the annual food booth meeting are willing to make that change and past experience tells us we will achieve 100 % participation within a 1 -3 year adjustment time. ( Plastic forks and spoons etc. will be sorted and trashed until Noodleware )


The other, larger source of garbage is the Fair Family itself. Only about 1/3 of the garbage leaving our fair site in July is a result of daily commerce and festivities.  The other 2/3 is a result of cleaning up and loading out the camp sites of booths, vendors, crews and entertainers.


If we are to reach the attainable goal of composting all biodegradable materials, it will be necessary to first get control of the explosion of garbage which the Fair Family leaves behind, in disregard to the stated policy of "Pack it In, Pack it Out."  This Fair Family garbage, unsorted trash that floods the system Sunday night and Monday morning, contaminates discards from food service to the point where recovery for composting would be impossible.


Therefore we have devised a three year plan that would result in Oregon's best example of a waste free fair for a minimum of capital outlay:  In year one, we will conduct a comprehensive education campaign to reduce the kiosk overload and subsequent waste of recyclables. Year two, will see shifts in the collection system to accommodate paper as compostable and the reduced amount of actual garbage waste, as well as shifts in the processing system to accommodate a larger compost pile. Year three is for fine tuning the new collection/ processing systems and using the resulting compost throughout the fair site to enhance vegetative growth, soil structure and root systems.



Logistical Description - Year One

1- We anticipate that, during the three day Fair, we will be dealing with the same cubic yards of garbage and recyclables as last year. Our handling tasks will change only slightly. We are hoping that the extensive education campaign and our emphasis on "Pack it In, Pack it Out" will reduce our after-Fair volume. Beyond asking for two wristbands for 1) a bulky waste dumpster attendant (royal Refuse) and 2) a full-time waste free Fair coordinator/public information specialist (temporary 1- 2 year post), we see no additional staff needs to implement this entire program.

2-  Since bulky items (chairs, crates, coolers, carpeting, sleeping pads, and tarping) discarded by fair family campers are the largest source of problem, they will not be allowed at kiosks and an alternative dumpster will be provided for a small fee to the dumper.  Royal Refuse,  has agreed to set a box where we tell them and manage fees and labor themselves (in exchange for one wrist band). 

3 - The waste free Fair coordinator will manage a comprehensive education campaign and a volunteer waste warrior program (see attached) that will alert the fair family of changes at the kiosks, promote waste reduction, and monitor the kiosks Sunday night to protect the sort.

4 - The full Recycling crew will do kiosk monitoring duty Monday morning. This means we have to work out a breakfast scenario, since the Monday move-out by the Family extends from 6AM to at least Noon.

5- New signs, limited to crew sites or to after-hours positioning, will be necessary at the kiosks. We already have sign painting parties before the fair, and have a good relationship with the sign painters in Main Camp, so this is just a matter of coordination. (One of the duties of the Waste Free Coordinator.)

6 -As we are running a test paper composting project with a couple of preselected and educated booths, the duties of the compost crew will change slightly, but it will not significantly change the regular run.

7- We anticipate longer recycling sort shifts after the Fair, as we see our policy changes will generate more sorted recyclables for us to process.

8- Depending on our acceptance by the Fair Family, we are not ruling out the possibility of more confrontations with burnt out hippies. Crisis intervention training will be adapted into garbage intervention training for the waste warrior volunteers and the recycling crew.

9- we remain optimistic, and solicit the following monetary support.


Budgetary Needs:

T-shirts for 140 Waste Warriors -  $            546.00  ( $3.90 organic cotton T's from Pategonia x 140)

Laminates for 140 Waste Warriors -          75.00

Signs / t-shirt screening / office -               250.00

2 Wrist Band (one for bulky waste and one for Waste Warrior education campaign coordinator)

Thermometers -                                               20.00

Biodegradable bags for test run -                   100.00



Please note. The above budget is likely to be the largest outlay of the three year implementation period.  And the largest line item is dependent on getting 140 volunteers to staff the kiosks on Sunday night.  If we only get 70 volunteers, that number could be reduced.  We NEED 140 for an optimal program, but no matter how many kiosk monitors are out there Sunday night, the communication and education activities should and could result in expanded awareness and positive movement toward walking our talk where waste is concerned.



Year Two and Beyond:

1- Again, the volume of the total garbage stream will not change during the three day fair: we will be handling biodegradable waste, not garbage, as the principal material. The kiosk barrel designations will change, accompanied of course by correct signage and instruction..

2- Our 2002 compost crew will continue to handle food booth food scraps as always.

3- We are expecting the educational and waste warrior campaign from the previous year will evolve into a neighborhood waste watch program to help the Recycling Crew handle Sunday/Monday kiosk monitoring duties.

4- At this time, we foresee no further staff needed to implement our program. The main budget implication would be the reduction of 1-4 dumpsters of  garbage to the tune of  possibly $800 - $900. Equipment needs to handle, grind and process the added compostable wastes are already on the Site Managers budget (or wish list) for site maintenance purposes.

5- We will know, following the 2001 Fair, what problems become apparent with our efforts to reduce our Fair Family waste problem. If it appears to have budget ramifications, we will be approaching the Budget Committee and the  BO in these matters.

6- Eventually we will want to go to fully compostable food service ware. Noodleware are the two products now available for that. The 2000 test composting of that material has shown promise. We anticipate successfully transitioning to this material some day in the future (within five years or so) for forks spoons knives, garbage can liners, lids and straws. Prices are reasonable, considering, and will likely decrease in the future so a slow transition of pilot tests each year is recommended to promote development of this earth friendly technology. 

Though difficult to quantify, the public relations, earth friendly, and  philosophical benefits of what we are trying to do here is worth every penny, and more, from a ethical and environmental standpoint.  We would also return significant amounts of nutrient support to the fair site vegetative family.


Re: Waste-Free-Fair Budget/Operations Implications Beyond 2001
To: OCF Budget Committee
From: Steve Wisnovsky, OCF Site Mgr.
January 16, 2001

            I've been working with the ad-hoc Waste Free Fair group since its inception, focusing on the implications of the proposal for the site and fair operations. While we can't attach dollar figures at this point to the full implementation of the proposal in 2002 and beyond, you should know we've been thinking and discussing what we might be doing down the road.
            We currently compost about 15 cubic yards of Fair-generated compostable material, collected by Recycling Crew, mainly from the MainCamp kitchen operation and from food prep from Fair food booths. That's a very approximate figure: the food scraps are mixed with hay/straw, and as the material composts, it loses volume. I currently turn that pile, which is located at the storage area near Bus Rd./Nansleez Rd., about twice a year. Because the input contains plastic bags, utensils, etc., the output needs to be screened before use.             We also compost separately an (initially) much larger pile of hay and straw out at the west end of Dead Lot.
            Full implementation of the waste-free plan could mean we generate each Fair about 60-80 cubic yards (just a guess) of raw material for composting, and the major budget impact on site operations is materials handling. This past fall, in order to handle a large list of bulk materials handling chores (rock, hay/straw, & compost) that was beyond the capabilities of the Fair's tractor, I rented a large front-end loader tractor. I also wanted to see if this was an appropriate way to deal with what will become an annual list of such chores, and this way will work. Its not a cheap machine (minimum $260.00 per day rental), probably two days work twice a year. And this is work that would break the Fair tractor.
            I plan to submit a capital project budget request for additional dollars for supplemental equipment rental, to cover the need for this machine for 2001 and some other one-time-only equipment rental needs, including the last of the rock-removal from Main Stage.
            We've also debated another couple of questions: do we shred or grind the material before composting (speeds up the composting process), and do we screen the material after the process to remove the "uncompostables"? Because we can't guarantee the purity of what we put in, and I don't like the idea of spreading a product on the Fair's meadows and paths that contains bits of plastic, I'm leaning towards screening after composting. Either way, we can probably grind or screen with rental equipment while we figure out which works better for us.
After two years of composting and turning, we'd then have a product available to spread on paths and meadows, replacing our current minimal application of organic lawn fertilizers. That aspect of materials handling would be best done with a commercially available standard manure spreader, and we'd probably want to buy that machine, which trailers behind the tractor. If the Fair compost we now use is any indication, its excellent for that use, and I'm sure we can give away to Fair gardeners any excess beyond our site needs.
We're a year away from needing to make budget decisions about some of this, and two years away from making the decisions about the output of the composting process. Over that course of time, much more research will go into an informed decision about the machinery needed, whether we rent or purchase, adapt what's available or invent what we need. But I do like the prospect of returning to the Fair site some much-needed organic material (the grass and trees will love it), and closing the loop on the waste we generate. "Perhaps the path to a sustainable future is made green with our own garbage." (Oops, sorry. I used to be a political speechwriter/hack.)



Waste Warrior Program Description


Through our work on the Waste Free Fair committee, we have identified the need to rein in the Fair Family's waste habits.  Only about 1/3 of the 33 tons of garbage leaving our fair site in July is a result of daily commerce and public activities.  The other 2/3 is a result of cleaning up and loading out the fair family camp sites. A sad surprise considering the earth friendly environmental concerns of our family in general.  A considerable portion of the waste leaving the fair site after Sunday is recyclable materials that were not sorted at the kiosks.  The reason for this, we believe, is not callous indifference or tired laziness, but the actual overflow of materials that flood disposal kiosks and obscures the sort.


When the barrels and the waste dumpster are full, folks can't easily see what goes where, so they just don't bother to sort any more, they gingerly leave their unsorted bag of trash wherever they can find room (hoping, I'm sure, that some one will sort it later. WRONG ).  After years of studying this problem we have concluded that there are two major contributing factors: 1) individuals are too busy having fun to "take out the trash" until the end of the Fair, effectively flooding the system on Sunday night and 2)  the broken and trashed bulky items associated w/ camping on site (chairs, crates, coolers, carpeting, sleeping pads, and tarping) that folks don't pack out ends up filling the kiosks and obscuring the recycling sort.


The Recycling Crew has been trying for many years to solve the problem through system and equipment changes, but since we cannot increase the size of the kiosks, our only viable solution to this Sunday/Monday flood of waste is education and enforcement.

There are three messages we must get across to all campers: 

1. Take out the recycling every day, (don't leave it until Sunday)

2. No bulky waste is to be disposed of at the kiosks: "pack it in, pack it out"

(an alternative dump site for bulky items will be arranged w/ Royal Refuse)

3. Sort your recyclables at kiosks. Do NOT leave unsorted trash. 

And then we must monitor the kiosks so that people comply with the message.


The medium for the message shall be aggressive, varied and creative.  We will  propose changes to the guidelines to be a bit stronger on the pack it in, pack it out message. !We will add this information to registration packets going to all booths.  !We will visit crew coordinator and crew meetings. !We will add this info to the wrist band experience somehow (ie. sign off on the 10 commandment of respecting this earth, or a very small hand out) !We will post the info on booths along with construction notices.  !We will create bright and beautiful signs for the waste kiosks (signs will be permanent at non public kiosks, and will be posted Sunday night at kiosks on the eight) !We will create educational performance pieces throughout the weekend:  ( ie.  a town crier, walking behind the sweep swinging a bell and hollering, "bring out your glass!  bring out your cans!" or a skit in the midnight show.)


We believe that after being made aware of the problem and the hypocrisy of our earth-loving annual party creating so much garbage, fair family members will be willing to help out. We will gather 140 dedicated and wonderful individuals willing to staff the kiosks for 4 hours Sunday night. (Monday morning the kiosk staffing will be carried out by the recycling crew.) 


The job of these volunteer "Waste Warriors" is to protect the sort: This will involve reminding folks to sort their trash and making sure no one fills the bins with "bulky Waste" (as described above), letting folks know of alternatives, and should the need arise, using boxes and bags to maintain a visible recycling sort that folks can follow. 


We will need to support these volunteer waste warriors in every way we can, since they will all be responsible for the jobs that give them a camping pass and this activity is purely a dedication towards the fair family walking its talk. We feel it is essential to provide them with a Waste Warrior T-shirt and laminate tag for identification purposes as well as thanks. Instead of food vouchers we could provide them with refreshments via crew services.  We will encourage them to take the crisis intervention training and we will provide them with training and info regarding the recycling program and impacts (garbage intervention).


We will solicit these volunteer waste warriors simultaneously  with many of the above educational outreach methods, as well as postings in every Fair Family News and visits to booths and camps during the fair.


We feel that with inspired and dedicated coordination, the Waste Warrior program will be successful in changing the waste habits of our earth loving family members to accommodate a truly waste free fair. We have already been contacted by a dozen or so fair family members concerned about this issue. And if, in this start up stage, we can protect the sort for maximum diversion of recyclables,  we will be assured of a collection system that can handle the changes needed to recycle the compostable portion of our waste stream into food for the earth. Thus creating operational systems and services that reflect our environmental ideologies.



Please feel free to contact any one of the committee's core operatives for information or further comments.


Robert Painter, Recycling Crew  

Sarah Grimm, BRING Recycling, education and outreach

Ann Morris, VegeManEc co-cordinator

Steve Wisnovsky, site manager

Toby  Alves, food booth committee



E.I.C    UO Home    Facilities    Others    Contact Us   UO Printshop