OSU and da Vinci Days cut waste, set a model for the region


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Nearly 90 percent of the waste created during this year’s popular da Vinci Days event in Corvallis was diverted from the landfill by a joint effort between Oregon State University Campus Recycling and da Vinci Days organizers and vendors.

A total of 1.8 tons, or nearly five 6-cubic-yard dumpsters, were composted and recycled, 32 percent more per person than last year.

In all, 87 percent of festival waste volume was diverted from the landfill – and less than one standard, 6-cubic-yard dumpster was filled with trash, down from the 2.5 dumpsters that were filled last year.

"The primary factor that has allowed us to set the bar high for a low waste event is the great partnership between da Vinci Days, OSU Campus Recycling, and Allied Waste,” said Brenda VanDevelder, executive director of the festival. “I'm extremely proud of the leadership of Andrea Norris and Pete Lepre and the amazing team of volunteers that they have put together.

“As with all da Vinci Days programs, our amazing volunteers are the reason for our success," she added.

This year 79 volunteers joined with local Boy Scout Troop 163 to monitor and empty bins during the festival. Most volunteers staffed recycling stations and a group of volunteers sorted vendor waste. The sorters were part of this year’s new Green Star Pilot program, a voluntary program for food vendors interested in helping the festival further reduce waste.

“Our volunteers are amazing,” said Andrea Norris, outreach coordinator for OSU Campus Recycling and volunteer coordinator for the festival recycling volunteers. “Our station volunteers give a positive and energetic face to the program, our Scouts operate like a well-oiled machine and our new Green Star Pilot volunteers were not at all afraid to dig in and help us divert more than we ever could have.”

Mike Murzynsky, vendor compost coordinator for the festival, said it was great to work with the da Vinci Days vendors. “Though not all participated in the Green Star program, they participated in the recycling aspect and were very open to our advice and help throughout the festival weekend,” he said.

In 2010, the first year of the waste reduction initiative, organizers and volunteers cut the per capita trash by 43 percent, and this year succeeded in reducing it by another 65 percent. To help reduce the amount of items that end up in the trash, food vendors only served compostable and recyclable items to festival-goers.

Some regional events are using the da Vinci Days effort as a model, including the Northwest Art and Air Festival in Albany and the Corvallis Fall Festival.

“The Corvallis Fall Festival board of directors knows that being more sustainable at our event is the right thing to do,” said Cynthia Spencer-Hadlock, executive director of the Corvallis Fall Festival. “Luckily da Vinci Days has already done much of the groundwork to help us succeed in our efforts.”

OSU Campus Recycling offers event recycling services to events on campus throughout the year, (http://recycle.oregonstate.edu/resources). They are coordinating zero waste breakfasts at summer orientation sessions for incoming students, succeeded in making the Corvallis Sustainability Town Hall a zero waste event the last two years and coordinated recycling efforts at OSU’s New Student Picnic, collecting just 23 pounds of trash from the event, which drew more than 2,000 participants.

For more information on the da Vinci Days project: http://recycle.oregonstate.edu/resources/signage-and-documents#reports