Plastic water bottles won’t be welcome at this year’s Roots & Blues Festival.
Festival executive director David Gonella said organizers have been looking at ways to better reduce and manage waste at the event.
“We looked at the site and how much waste we’re generating, and it was more than we really were wanting to accept, and we thought we could do a lot better job,” explained Gonella.
One of the waste-reducing initiatives planned for this year involves doing away with the sale and use of single-use plastic water bottles.
“That’s something a lot of different festivals and a lot of different organizations have already done, so we’re sort of not leading on that one…,” explained Gonella. “Even from our distributor, who supplies us our water, they’re relieved not to have to produce these water bottles. Everyone is not really into how much waste they’re causing.
“The problem with the water bottles is that they’re often left not completely emptied. And when it comes down to it, water is our biggest, our number one priority. We need that more than anything… so we shouldn’t be wasting it like this. We’re not being very good leaders in our community if we allow this to happen any longer.”
Gonella said festival-goers and volunteers will be asked to bring their own empty receptacle that can be filled up at potable water stations to be located on the festival grounds.
“There’s going to be soda pop and plastics and all those kinds of items, and we’ll recycle those items, but we’re looking at just a single-use water bottle which right now is the biggest culprit for just going straight to the landfill,” said Gonella.
Recycling stations will also be located on the festival grounds with separate bins, including compost bins for food waste.
“We’re going to have stations with eco-educators running them, and the stations are going to have four or five different bins so we can separate the items as they come in,” said Gonella. “One of them is going to be a compost bin, and that compost is going to go Spa Hills.”
In addition to better managing its waste, Roots & Blues is also looking at cleaner, less-costly alternatives to the fleet of vehicles used onsite during the event.
“We’re looking at pedal power, so bicycles with trailers, cargo bikes, pedal carts… also, just the expenditure of having to maintain this equipment, it’s very costly and the rentals are just getting higher and higher each year. So we’re looking at ways of changing for the better,” said Gonella.
Gonella credits Roots & Blues’ environment committee for helping to make these transitions happen. And while he expects there might be some kinks, with this being the first year, Gonella maintains they’re important steps to take.
“We’re doing it because we think it’s right,” said Gonella. “Not really for a political reason, we just think it’s the right thing to do.”