Edmonton Folk Music Festival Works at Being Green
It is not easy to walk softly and leave no footprints when you host 20,000 people per day for four days in a city park with no paved pathways and roads! But since the early 1990s, The Edmonton Folk Music Festival has worked hard to minimize our impact on Gallagher Park in downtown Edmonton and the Cloverdale community. Preservation of the park, in concert with the City of Edmonton and Cloverdale community has always been a Festival commitment.
Our early efforts focused on minimizing impact by five strategies:
- providing a bike lock-up service: this enables patrons to bicycle to the site rather than drive
- installing temporary walkways to minimize damage to the park: early approaches used wooden pallets, now replaced by plastic walkways funded, in part, by Edmonton Community Foundation.
- collecting garbage: During the Festival, our morning clean-up crew, called EnviroPower and staffed by youth volunteers, scours the park picking up garbage. The Site Environment crew monitors the park during the day and evenings.
- recycling: the Festival Site Environment collects recyclable items to minimize garbage sent to the landfill. In 2000, the Festival partnered with Clean It Green It, a subsidiary of KC Environmental, to aid with the composting of organic waste generated during the Festival.
- restoring Gallagher Park to the way we found it after the festival: this includes removing facilities and equipment in a timely manner and restoring the grass.
In 1995, the Festival started a plate program to reduce waste generated by concessionaires and the Festival volunteer kitchen. With support of the Edmonton Community Foundation, the Festival bought 5000 washable plates. Providing these plates to concessionaires facilitated implementing a “No Styrofoam” policy on site.
Although not an obvious “green” program, the Festival took steps to minimize impact on Cloverdale Community by eliminating overnight line-ups and sitting on neighbors’ lawns with a line-up lottery (explained in FAQs) and later starts to line-ups in controlled “corrals.” This program has been very successful with neighbors and patrons alike.
In 2007, in cooperation with Big Rock Breweries, the Festival started using Poly Lactic Acid (PLA) beer cups. PLA, a resin derived entirely from natural corn materials, is 100% renewable through annual corn harvests and fully compostable in municipal and industrial facilities. After a featured story on the National on CBC, many organizations including the Berkebeiner ski festival and Parks Canada have inquired about these special cups.
Each year, the Festival installs solar panels to power our merchandising tent, running lights and cash registers. We hope to continue and enlarge use of solar power during coming Festivals.
As of 2011, the Festival and all our concessionaires now use bio-degradable cutlery, napkins and other products which are composted by Clean It Green It. This reduces our waste in general and allows our organic wastes to be re-used as compost.
The Edmonton Folk Music Festival is committed to reducing its footprint during the four-day event. We will continue to implement strategies that improve our environmental track record.