Earth Day Celebrations Achieved Zero Waste in Sedona Verde Valley

By Darcy Hitchcock

This year, the Sustainability Alliance declared Earth Day Month. At least thirty-five different groups held Earth Day events in the Verde Valley during April involving well over 6000 people. (Roughly half of the events reported their participation to us estimated at 5924). Events ranged from the Yavapai/Apache/Camp Verde Earth Day Celebration to Sedona’s household hazardous waste collection which collected 8,770 lbs. of hazardous waste and 17,237 lbs. of electronics.

However, events can be bad for the environment if they generate a lot of waste. So Leslie Fox (who heads up the Sustainability Alliance’s Zero Waste Events program and runs the Yavapai Food Recovery Program) helped a number of the of the Earth Month events to radically reduce their waste. The industry definition of ‘zero waste’ is a 90 percent diversion from landfill but the events Fox supported blew that standard out of the water!

96 percent diversion: Yavapai/Apache/Camp Verde Earth Day Celebration. The 2nd annual Earth Day celebration held with the Yavapai-Apache Nation and the Town of Camp Verde should be voted the most improved. Last year no one knew how much waste went to the landfill but folks recalled dumpster after dumpster of stuff taken away. This year the event only 2.5 pounds of garbage to put into the landfill with a 96% diversion rate of what we rescued!

How did they do it? They eliminated single use disposable water bottles, notified vendors that everything they brought with them they would need to take away with them, and changed from a single stream waste/recycle removal system to a Separation Station to individually collect items for recycling, composting, up-cycling or returning to items to vendors, They also changed the menu to ensure minimal waste.

99 percent diversion: Taste of OLLI: The trash cans were removed from the room. Instead a Separation Station was set up and the only items we could not collect were the packaging around the tea bags that is a cross of plastic and paper. That waste did not register on the scale so this event had a 99.999% diversion rate.

100 percent diversion: Earth Day at La Ferme de Pomme Bleue. Blue Apple Farm, in Cornville asked the participants to take away anything they brought with them. A food vendor brought compostable serviceware.

If you’re hosting an event and want to reduce your environmental footprint, contact [email protected]