Photo By Andrew Skinner
By Jonah Ogles
Shoreline Media writer
What does it take to make sure a 4-day festival of 30,000 people stays “green”? A lot of details: 570 volunteers, 75 30-yard trash dumpsters, 2,000 trash containers, 12,500 gallons of biodiesel and a lot of hard work. Sarah Haynes is the one overseeing that hard work. She is the CEO of The Spitfire Agency — a group that helps large events be green. But around ROTHBURY she is known simply as the Green Chief.
Haynes was brought on board last year to make sure the festival was green and environmentally less-harmful than other major festivals. And she was largely successful in that effort.
This year, she set out to make the festival even more green, beginning with the biodiesel.
“We buy B99 (biodiesel) and mix it,” said Haynes. They run the stages, the lights and anything else that can run on diesel using a 50/50 mixture of biodiesel and regular diesel.
Tom Beals is the founder of Haymaker Biodiesels, the company in charge of buying and mixing the fuel.
“I’ve worked a lot of festivals,” he said. “ROTHBURY uses the highest percentage biodiesel of any of them.”
All stages ran on B50 last year except the main stage, which ran on B20. This year, however, they upgraded to B50 because they were confident the generators would run on that mixture without problems.
An extra 30 percent may not sound like much, but it adds up when you consider the total amount of fuel the festival uses.
“We use 25,000 gallons total,” said Beals. “And half of that is biodiesel.”
Of course, generating power is only one of the issues a festival faces. The biggest problem, at least in terms of volume, is the sheer amount of trash they create.
“We have 75 roll-offs,” said Haynes, referring to the 30-yard dumpsters sitting on a back lot where the trash is sorted.
Haynes predicted that all of those would be filled, though not all of them with trash. Each trash bin is labeled Landfill — “We call it landfill, trash is just something you throw away,” said Haynes. They also had a bin for Recyclables and Compost.
A total of 570 volunteers from all 50 states worked shifts to man those bins around the clock and help people decide where to throw their waste. A lot of the waste could be composted or recycled. The festival uses compostable corn-based cups and straws for drinks as well as paper products wherever possible.
Just to be safe, each bag goes back to a special sorting facility where more volunteers sort through each bag to make sure nothing goes to the wrong bin.
“Last year we had 93 percent diversion,” from the landfill, said Haynes. That means only seven percent of the waste created last year ended up in a landfill. Haynes is hoping to meet or exceed that level for this year.
“After Monday we have 35 people moving into this compound to do this (sorting) all week,” she said.
They will also be sorting the trash from the campground, where bins are not manned by volunteers. But Haynes said the campers have been doing a better job on their own this year.
“In the campgrounds we’re hoping for 60 percent diversion,” said Haynes.
The festival’s commitment to being green doesn’t stop there. All of the metal fencing gets recycled. And the festival offers a “Ticket for Good,” which lets festival-goers elect to offset the carbon created by their travel to the festival.
With this year’s program wrapped up, Haynes is already looking forward to next year.
“We just got our first soil back,” from the waste that was composted at the 2008 festival, she said. Next year, they plan on using that soil for the plants placed in the VIP area.
Haynes hopes the soil will be a physical reminder that a little effort can make a big difference - especially when that effort is made by 30,000 people, in one place, for one weekend.