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Fest Zero Strives to Keep Arts Fest Trash Out of Landfills

by and on July 14, 2017 5:00 AM

Volunteers are again this year aiming to keep trash from the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts from heading to landfills, through the use of a wider selection of recycling options and manpower to tear it all down.

In March 2014, Brad Fey and his wife, Denise, started their initiative, which eventually grew into Fest Zero. It is separate from the CPFA and coordinates the event’s recycling program.

Fey himself was part of the trash crew in previous years and saw how much landfill waste was leaving the festival and the opportunities for better recycling.

“We have a high recycling effort in my household,” Fey said during an interview.

In just the first year of Fest Zero’s efforts, he said Centre County told him they estimated that 10 times more waste was recycled due to more recycling bins around the festival itself. Last year, he said it is estimated the number of recycled plastic bottles stacked end on end would reach as high as the top of the Empire State Building.

Fey said State College Borough and Centre County were easy to coordinate with to kick off the initiative. He praised local governments for an excellent job of aiding residents in their recycling and curbside compost.

Fest Zero has its own crew of volunteers, which Fey said this year will be folded into the Arts Festival’s “green crew,” which was rebranded away from the name “trash crew.”

It used to be that all throughout the festival there were huge open-topped metal barrels with garbage bags that people tossed all waste into. Crews would then come along and pick up those metal barrels and haul them away, Fey said.

Now, there are bins for the oddly shaped lemonade cups and regular plastics at each trash station. Fey said they do increase the amount of work at the end of the festival, so more volunteers are required.

He said this will be the first year that contracts with vendors were rewritten to prohibit the use of styrofoam and substitute paper products where possible.

Though Fest Zero has kept tons of waste from the landfills, Fey said the organization is striving for a zero-waste event.
“That’s the hardest goal, to completely eliminate the trash,” he said. “It’s hard to do in a public space. It’s not closed in,” and trash can be brought from outside the festival.

Another goal this year is for leftover food to be donated to organizations that benefit people in need, Fey said. Last year they weren’t able to make it happen, but Fest Zero hopes to see leftover items like produce be put to use instead of just composted.

Those interested in volunteering with Fest Zero can sign up from a link on the group's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/festzero. The group also staffs a booth during the Youth Day to educate youngsters on recycling.



This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.



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