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Green will be the new orange by 2017 at Keene Pumpkin Festival

KEENE — The Keene Pumpkin Festival has vowed to go green by committing to produce a zero waste event by 2017.

Event organizers Let it Shine is teaming up with The Green Up Girl, run by C.S. Wurzberger, and students from Keene State College, to begin a greening-up initiative to reduce waste, increase recycling, expand composting and become a zero waste event within the next five years.

“I have been told over and over by waste professionals and environmental activists that we could never turn the orange festival green,” event manager Ruth Sterling of Sterling Design & Communications said. “Its scale just couldn’t be reigned in, they told me. So having C.S. Wurzberger walk in and tell me what is now possible is an exciting breakthrough.”

Ensuring the festival is as clean as possible has been a goal of Let it Shine since it took over the festival three years ago, she said.

Wurzberger runs her green event consulting business in Keene, focusing on everything from festivals to corporate events.

On Friday she was busy lining up the 60 volunteers needed to start the first phase of the project of the festival, being held Oct. 19, which is recycling food and drink containers.

“Our goal is to reduce the waste at least by 35 percent by recycling everything,” she said. “It’s exciting to see all of the positive feedback we’ve been receiving.”

Having a completely green festival will take five years because some methods will have to be tried out, quirks will have to be worked out of some, and others may take a while to be implemented, she said.

“We found that you can’t go into an event and assume that you are going to go from zero to 100 percent,” the first try, she said.

Next year, composting leftover food will be tackled by putting out composting containers, she said.

“The food waste that goes into the landfill is the highest contributor to methane gas that contributes to our global warming,” she said.

While the tens of thousands of pumpkins at the festival have been composted or given to pig farmers as feed for years, uneaten food portions bought at the food court or brought into the festival by attendees have simply gone into the trash cans and ended up in a landfill, Wurzberger said.

“At this point none of that is being composted,” Wurzberger said, adding that more and more events around the world are proving a zero waste festival is possible.

“There are other zero waste festivals around the world and now thank goodness more are sprouting up around the U.S.”


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