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Recap of Our New Precedent for a Zero Waste Farm Festival - Our determined parents used Farm Festival as an opportunity to reduce, reuse, and recycle!

Friday, November 2, 2018

MCS has succeeded in our first attempt to redesign the Farm Festival into a “Zero Waste” street fair. The annual Farm Festival benefits the school’s sliding scale-tuition program, which helps all MCS families to educate their children as equal members of an economically, racially and culturally diverse community. This year the all parent-volunteer planning committee of the 2018 Farm Festival took a stand with “Zero Waste.” “The ‘Zero Waste’ program is a key component of ‘One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City’ also known as OneNYC.  Both strategic thrusts are led by the Department of Sanitation and the Mayor's Office of Sustainability.

Manhattan Country School’s version of the “Zero Waste” was a public demonstration of accessible, sustainable recycling practices intended to create as little waste and landfill deposit as possible. The resourcefulness of the non-disposables policy distinguishes our event from any other street fair. The steps toward neighborhood refuse reduction included a 5-point strategic plan:

  • FREE OF DISPOSABLE DISHWARE All food items were served on “real” plates and cutlery. Dishes were bussed, washed and sterilized for use during the event in the kitchen, just like a restaurant or café.
  • RECYCLE STATIONS Everything that could have been be composted or recycled was. Instead of the garbage-only bins, parent-volunteers supervised the sorting of all disposables. Each station was equipped with five bins to separate all rubbish: Compost, Metal, Plastics, Paper and Landfill.
  • REPURPOSED PRIZES Instead of purchasing new plastics, the prizes offered were gently used small toys and games, donated from the MCS community.
  • PAPER AND PLASTIC BAG REUSE All purchases at the MCS Farm Festival including the popular farm-to-table Market Place, were bagged in reusable paper or plastic shopping bags - all of which were provided by the MCS community.
  • WATER STATIONS INSTEAD OF PLASTIC, SINGLE USE WATER BOTTLES Farm Festival featured two free water stations where attendees could refill their own bottles. An assortment of sterilized, reusable cups, mugs and canteens were also on hand.

By the time Farm Festival was over, we diverted an estimated 500 pounds of food scraps and compostable material from the city’s landfills. This large-scale effort to eliminate disposables resulted in only 8 bags of non-degradable landfill trash for a 5-hour event that hosted over 1,000 individuals. 500-600 attendees visited the grill. By using 800 non-disposables dishes, Farm Festival ultimately eliminated 1,300 plates, 1,000 forks, and 1,000 hot beverage cups from the waste stream.

Farm Festival was supported by magnanimous food and beverage donations from restaurants and suppliers throughout the Upper West Side, Harlem and Northern Manhattan. The charitable partnership allowed iconic 5-star fare to be resold at below market value prices, creating food accessibility for all patrons of the festival. To take advantage of a discount, available now through December 31st of local restaurants including a few of our sponsors, please download the Manhattan Country School Coupon Book: Farm Festival edition.