Eco-Takeouts™ Rock! Containers Make Debut at Pickathon Music Festival

Happy Valley, Oregon hosted the 2011 Pickathon Music Festival, a 3-day event, featuring a variety of artists – from blues singers to rock bands.  On its sustainability website page, Pickathon billed itself as “the first large outdoor music festival in the United States to eliminate single-use dishware and utensils.”

Pickathon drew 5000 attendees, and about 2500 of them participated in the “Ditch Single Use Dishes” program.   Participants had their choice of Eco-Takeouts™ in various sizes, or bamboo plateware.   GO Box, a business featured in last week’s blog entry, supplied the reusable containers and managed the collection and washing process.

The accountability system should look familiar by now.   Each participant paid $10 to “buy in” and receive a token.    He or she would then take the token to a food vendor and order a meal either in an Eco-Takeouts™ container or on bamboo dinnerware (participant’s choice). Eco-friendly utensils were included in the fee.     The festival had several dish return stations set up to collect used containers/plates and dispense tokens in exchange.   At festival’s end, participants had three options: keep the containers or dishware, return them and receive a $5 refund, or get a token to use at a downtown Portland food cart serviced by GO Box.

As is often the case, planning the implementation took some effort.  “We had to come up with a system that was easy for vendors and festival goers,” said GO Box Founder Laura Weiss. However, working closely with festival planners, Laura and her team came up with a process she described as “seamless.”

Music lovers expressed appreciation for the reusable program in website comments such as, “…I am very proud to see this new way of preventing waste in our landfills,” and “Rock On! This is great move and congrats to those who made it happen.”

From a quantitative point of view, festival organizers have a number of stats that point to success. For example, despite a 20% increase in attendance, the festival produced the same amount of trash as in 2010. Only 40% of the waste went to landfills vs. 50% in 2010.

Want to figure out a way to make Eco-Takeouts™ work at your next event?  Contact us and we can help you!

About Wilma

As G.E.T.'s Sustainable Products Manager, I have more than 15 years of experience managing quick serve and casual dining restaurant foodservice promotions. And what do I know about sustainability? Well, I read eco research, study best practices, and follow Mom’s example by reusing grocery bags and recycling cans. Like many of you, I am looking for ways to apply environmental research and eco-friendly best practices in our schools, companies, and communities. I'll share what I learn, and pass along some tips-- mine and others-- you can apply to your own "green" goals.
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