Team Greening Festival wants to reduce the amount of waste created at Festival International and be part of catalyzing a styrofoam-free Lafayette! The ultimate goal of this project is to put Festival International on the road to becoming a “zero waste” event. The first step is replacing styrofoam serviceware items (i.e. plates, bowls, and clamshells) used by Festival vendors with compostable versions made out of bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane mills.
We’re bringing out the FIL Geaux Green logo by putting Festival International (and eventually other local festivals) on the road to becoming a “zero waste” event! Anyone who has spent any time at Festival International (isn’t that all of us?) knows that most of the food is served on styrofoam plates or containers. But did you know that styrofoam never goes away and that these food containers can neither be recycled nor recovered in any existing system? We bet you definitely didn’t know that there are compostable equivalents to all the styrofoam plates, bowls, and clamshells used today. In fact, one such plant-based item is made from sugar cane bagasse, a byproduct of sugarcane mills that we have an abundance of here in South Louisiana.
Depending on the product (plate, bowl, clamshell, etc), the cost difference between styrofoam and bagasse can range from nothing to fifty cents. We know this can be a significant ask of vendors, particularly those not used to this idea of “zero waste”. We will work with Festival International vendors to help them source materials, and, where it might be a barrier, use 24HCP funding to cover a portion of the difference in cost.
This effort will be paired with a fully-backed Festival International marketing effort promoting FIL’s move away from styrofoam. Vendors who elect to participate will be designated in the FIL app and at their vendor booths with the FIL Geaux Green logo.
The beauty of plant based materials comes full circle if you are able to capture them once Festival-goers have finished eating. These materials, along with any food residue and leftovers, can be sent to compost at a right-sized and managed facility. When managed properly and mixed with other organic material, oxygen, and water; all of this plant-based waste will break back down into healthy, rich soil! It is very important that no other materials get mixed in though, so we would start with collection in select areas only (i.e. Parc San Souci) and follow Louisiana Football’s model of hand sorting compost after each event to make sure that no other waste materials end up in the compost pile. This work would be completed by volunteers similar to the volunteers who handle recycling at Festival Acadien.