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2019 Strawberry Festival Recycling Report

As a community, we strive to make positive steps towards a greener, environmentally aware Island. Big festivals create a lot of waste and The Chamber of Commerce is committed to making Strawberry Festival, as well as other Island Events. greener. At Festival we’ve gone from no recycling, specially designed kiosks, passive recycling bins to multiple recycling bins. It seemed that no matter what we tried, the recycling bins became contaminated and turned into waste. This is common with large crowds, an individual person may be good at sorting waste properly at home or a small event, people in a crowd and at a big event do not do such a good job. We needed a better way. Enter Diane Emmerson.

Diane worked with us to create an active recycling stations for  festival goers to drop off all their trash and recycling materials so that staff could clean and sort it properly. 2019 was the first year we attempted this form of recycling. Below is Diane's report on how it went.

Set Up

Diane Emerson and a team of 14 paid staff people and 6 volunteers set up 2 recycling stations to receive all recycling, compostables, trash, and food waste from Festival visitors. The stations also collected the metal utensils that were offered at food vendor locations.


Staff Costs: $1300  fixed fee for Diane, and $1188.75 for the paid workers, who received $15 an hour.

Materials Costs: Flags: $205.88, Banners $400.00 Other materials: $199.00, Dumpster Fees $600

Total staff and material costs: $3893.63


Financial sponsors donated $4100 towards the recycling effort. Material costs were lower than expected because most materials were donated by Granny’s Attic and 2 canopies and 2 large folding tables were borrowed from VIGA.

Recycling Results

The two recycling stations were open from 9-6 on Saturday, and 9-5 on Sunday. Few people visited the stations, so the team members walked the midway and retrieved recycling, compostables, and food waste from the trash bins along the Festival route.

During the Festival the team filled 9 large (90 gallon) wheeled recycling bins with thousands of pieces of clean correct recycling, topped off with dry paper and cardboard, so these materials stayed dry.

They collected an additional 80 or so gallons  of soiled paper napkins, plates, and bowls with food waste for  worm bins on Saturday. On Sunday they collected 8 gallons of pure food waste (no paper) for island pigs and an additional 20 gallons of mixed paper and food to top off the worm bins.

They  also collected 20 gallons of used cooking oil, which was taken by General Biodiesel.

So, all told, approximately 938 gallons of materials of one sort or another were kept out of the landfill, and the recycling will be high quality and more profitable to sell on to customers.

Over all Strawberry Festival were able to keep all waste confined to one large semi truck trailer. When festival did not do any recycling a whole trailer and a half were filled.

Community Feedback

This effort was roundly applauded by the community during and after the Festival. Fully 370 people gave the summary of results a thumbs up, love or Wow on Vashonites Facebook page, and many of those people took the time to write their appreciation.

Recommendations for 2020

  1. Ban Water Bottles! Encourage vendors to NOT hand out water bottles or boxed water. Approximately 90% of our recycling was water bottles and boxed water cartons. Instead, encourage booth renters to have a couple of gallons of tap water available to people who visit the booth, but no free cups or containers. Water bottles can be sold at cost, and it is suggested that no logos be on the water bottles, or they will end up in the trash, as we saw in 2019. In order to provide water on a hot summer day we recommend creating drinking fountains and water bottle filling stations that can be positioned throughout festival.
  2. Start Efforts Early! Have a person in charge of the recycling effort early on in the process, beginning Fall 2019, or no later than February 2020, to work with the many people who contribute to the waste stream: food vendors, the Sportsman’s Club, and any groups who want to hand out water in any form. Plus, work more closely with the Boy Scouts and Granny’s regarding trash and metal utensils.
  3. No Compostable Plastic. All vendors and anyone giving items away need to understand that in Vashon’s system for the next few years, compostable plastic is considered trash. It is only compostable in an off-island commercial compost facility. Neither the King County transfer station nor Vashon Disposal accepts it for composting, nor is it recyclable.
  4. Have 2 recycling stations again, with one well trained person at a time in each booth, sorting and cleaning. All other staff and volunteers should be in the street, picking up recyclables, food waste, and compostables.
  5. Recycling containers on the street, have a cluster of 3 containers every 500 to 1000 feet: A black trash can, a Blue recycling bin with only the recycling logo on it, and a container, probably a 6-gallon bucket, for compostables or food waste. Staff and volunteers can go through the trash just ahead of the Boy Scouts, and rescue items. They can bring the recycling bins back to a recycling station for detailed sorting and cleaning. They can bring the compostables/food waste buckets back to the recycling stations to remove inappropriate items. Just like the Scouts, the recycling team can replace the full recycling bins and compostable buckets with empty containers, so there is always one to use.
  6. Increase food and vendor efforts.  Food vendors were pretty good about bringing their cardboard to the main recycling area in the large parking lot across from the Ace Service Center, but they trashed a lot of recycling and food. It is recommended that the team collecting recyclables and food waste pick up from food vendors too or that more recycling bins be placed near food vendors.
  7. Promote include promotion of recycling along with information on the 2020 Strawberry Festival and encourage people to bring their own water bottle.

Creation of Event Recycling Kit

The equipment and information assembled for this type of event recycling are available for any other Island event to use. Contact the Chamber of Commerce to borrow the equipment.




Event Reycling Sponsors 2019
Event Recycling Staff
DianeEmerson with plastic bottles
Certificate for Festival