Rural Action, which coordinates the Appalachia Ohio Zero Waste Initiative, is being nationally recognized for its work to make festivals zero waste by striving to compost or recycle 90% of festival waste. Rural Action received the Keep America Beautiful national award for Community Improvement in the waste reduction and recycling category.
Rural Action first became engaged with Keep America Beautiful when they became a partner of Keep Southeast Ohio Beautiful, a local affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, which is managed by Wayne National Forest. Since joining in 2012, Rural Action has received several grants from the organization to help expand its zero waste services by purchasing recycling bins.
Gary C. Chancey, Team Leader for Keep Southeast Ohio Beautiful is excited about the work Rural Action is doing in southeast Ohio.
“On behalf of the partners of Keep Southeast Ohio Beautiful, we congratulate you on being nationally recognized for your work. Through measurable outcomes in recycling, Rural Action is clearly a champion for positive change in our community,” says Chancey.
“Festivals, especially music festivals, are central to the culture of southeast Ohio. These festivals can also be major waste generators. We’ve been able to create innovative ways to reduce, recycle, compost, and reuse that potential waste, turning these festivals into a platform for influencing thousands of attendees and local businesses to change their habits,” said Zero Waste Initiative Coordinator for Rural Action Kyle O’Keefe.
For example, at the 2013 Nelsonville Music Festival, which hosted approximately 15 food vendors and 6000 attendees, the zero waste goal was virtually met. 89.8% or 5820 pounds of collected materials were diverted into either compost or recycling, leaving only 10.1% of materials to be sent to the landfill. Similar results have been achieved at Ohio Pawpaw Festival, Rootwire Music Festival, Color in the Hills Festival, Boogie on the Bricks, and Bounty on the Bricks by Rural Action’s work with festival organizers.
“Awareness of local and global waste issues is on the rise, generating a lot of demand for improving the ways we as a society manage our resources. These zero waste festivals are merely small scale examples of solutions to those bigger problems,” says O’Keefe.
The Keep America Beautiful awards have been issued for sixty years. According to Alexandra Donovan, Manager of Affiliate Services at Keep America Beautiful, the panel awarded Rural Action top scores in all categories and specifically noted they were excited to see Rural Action’s connection with Keep Southeast Ohio Beautiful.
The high scores earned Rural Action a ‘first place’ ranking for the Community Improvement Recognition Award. Donovan also noted the uniqueness of what Rural Action is doing at area music festivals, stating she has not seen this type of outreach at other organizations that have applied for KAB awards.
The award will be given at the Keep America Beautiful Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 in Charlotte, NC