Sonoma County Farm Trails is committed to maximizing resource conservation and minimizing waste in our community. We strive to make the Gravenstein Apple Fair not only the sweetest of fairs, but also the “greenest little fair in Sonoma County.” To meet zero waste goals, we continue our work with leading local sustainability experts to further reduce the carbon footprint of the Gravenstein Apple Fair.
We are proud to announce that we achieved 95% zero waste for the 2023 Fair. The following was collected and sorted at Fair ecostations over the weekend: 18 cubic yards of recycling, 12 cubic yards of truly compostable paper goods, 433 pounds of good surplus food to food banks, 8,000 pounds of food scraps for a local pig farm, and only 3 cubic yards of garbage—a whopping 5 yards less than in 2019! That amount of landfill is the equivalent to a little over a full standard pickup truck bed—an impressive feat considering the Fair drew attendance of 14,500 fairgoers, vendors, and staff throughout the weekend.
At the November 17, 2022 Zero Waste Sonoma Board of Directors meeting, the countywide board responsible for waste diversion education recognized Sonoma County Farm Trails with a first of its kind Green Resolution recognizing the nonprofit’s outstanding service and commitment to the community and environment.
Our proactive measures include the following:
Garbage in; garbage out—controlling the waste stream
All vendors sign an agreement confirming compliance with our Sustainability Guidelines (see below). For those serving food, we require truly compostable serviceware and offer discounted access to appropriate products. During the fair, an auditor visits each vendor to ensure compliance.
Glassware for libations
Alcoholic beverages are served in glassware that can be taken home or left behind to be washed and reused next year. Non-alcoholic drinks are served in quality plastic cups that are highly recyclable.
Silverware for meals
Real silverware is provided to vendors to offer to customers, to be collected and washed in a commercial dishwasher and stored for reuse.
Reducing single-use packets
Condiments are offered in bulk containers as opposed to single-use packets.
Vending water in plastic bottles is prohibited. Guests are encouraged to bring their own reuseable water bottles, and free filtered water is provided throughout the fair.
Supporting our Food Banks
A local organization picks up good-quality leftovers directly from food vendors and distributes them to area food banks and shelters.
Feed the pigs, not the landfill.
- Ecostations are set up throughout the fair, staffed by dedicated volunteers who help guests sort their discards into appropriate containers—pig food, silverware, compostables, recyclables and garbage.
- Local pig farmers pick up a trailer-full of discarded food at the end of the fair.
- Silverware is washed in a commercial dishwasher and stored for reuse.
- Truly compostable items accepted by our waste-hauler are non-coated, non-PLA, and allowed in compost to be used by organic farmers. If it looks like plastic, it’s trash.
- Eliminating single-use plastics is the next step in moving towards zero waste. Recycling low-quality plastics is unsustainable. These are replaced whenever possible with reusables or, as a last resort, higher quality plastics that have recycling value.
We are also actively working to lower our carbon footprint. That includes encouraging attendees to carpool, take public transit, walk, or bike (and parking at the free on-site Biking Area sponsored and staffed by Sports Basement), and also by using solar power for stages (thanks to SolSolutions.)
Greening Guidelines for Vendors
Vendors must comply with the following serviceware guidelines:
Vendors are responsible for sorting their own booth waste properly in the Ecostations, assisted by fair staff: compost, pig food, recycling, and landfill.
FOOD SERVICEWARE: PERMITTED
Only 100% compostable paper food-service ware or recyclable plastics are permitted.
- Uncoated white/natural plant fiber & paper products (straws, cups, bowls, deli boats, etc.)
- Plain white Chinet paper plates are acceptable
- Red plaid uncoated paper boats are acceptable
- Uncoated white/natural deli paper, paper sandwich bags & parchment paper
- White or natural paper napkins/towels
- 100% wood, paper, bamboo or birch products (cutlery, utensils, chopsticks, stirring sticks, etc.) NO plastic or so-called “compostable” plastic utensils
- Paper straws. NO plastic or “compostable” straws
- Aluminum cans & (clean) foil
- Glass bottles and jars (Only glass without food residue can be recycled.)
- Plastic drinking cups – Clear #1 PET plastic only; no lids
- Uncoated paper (compostable) OR foil food wrappers (recyclable), not wraps that are a combination of paper and foil as they are trash.
FOOD SERVICEWARE: NOT PERMITTED
- “Compostable” plant/bio-plastic products such as plastic looking cups labeled compostable. (These cannot be composted locally.)
- Coated paper food containers (If it has a shiny surface, it is likely coated.)
- Plastic utensils (Plastics smaller than 4” in diameter can’t be recycled locally.)
- Plastic sides/dressing cups
- Plastic lids for cups
- Plastic bags
- Plastic water bottles (Drinking water is available to guests at filtration stations.)
- Plastic straws
- Plastic wrap
Thanks to the following community collaborators for helping us to make the Gravenstein Apple Fair even greener: