Carnivals are fun but messy and very wasteful. Windom Carnival, known to be one of the largest carnivals in Minneapolis, plans to stop this by reducing its ecological footprint.
Windom Park Carnival • Friday, June 1 • 5-8 p.m. • corner of Johnson and Lowrey in Northeast Minneapolis
Organizations that will be assisting with the effort include Eastside Food Co-op who will provide receptacles for the waste, Tapmpls.com, an initiative of the City of Minneapolis to promote the use of tap water versus bottled water, and the Minnesota Energy Renewable Society, which will provide solar panels to power a showmobile.
Last year, the carnival generated between 20-25 large bags of garbage, much of which included pop cans, water bottles and food waste.
“It’s our hope that of those 20 bags, most are recyclables and compostables. So, it will be a sound, useful piece of measurement of our success, Michelle Woster, carnival committee member and volunteer, said.
“I’d say if this year we wind up with less than 15 bags of garbage, that would be a good thing. I also think just getting people talking about this topic, and educating them as we answer questions like where’s the bottled water? What happened to all the trash cans? is a success,” Mary Ward another committee member said.
Ashley Mueller, Green Resource Coordinator for Edison High School last year, will be leading the effort along with Edison students, trained in organizing green events. Mueller said that the volunteers must be vigilant and attentive so that the compostable waste does not get contaminated.
Making this a zero waste event will dip into their profits. Proceeds of the carnival benefit the Pillsbury MST Elementary School and Windom Park Citizens in Action, both of which support recreational and community events throughout the year.
The biggest change will be the absence of plastic water bottles. Instead Tapmpls.com will hook up a water dispenser with several faucets to the park building. Carnival goers should plan on bringing their own water bottles but compostable cups will also be available.
“We are forgoing significant revenue from the lost of the water bottle sales, (400 bottles were sold last year) Woster said adding “we’ll have a place where people can donate their tickets as if they were really purchasing a plastic bottle – in hopes of retaining some of that revenue.”
Other changes this year will be buying chips in bulk rather than individual bags along with offering locally produced food.
Because of their efforts, the Windom Carnival will most likely be the first ever certified Green Event chosen by the Minneapolis Park & Rec Board.
“The things we’re doing this year to be greener haven’t been that much extra work. There are a lot of resources we never knew about before that have been very helpful. I fully expect we’ll make less money, due to both lost revenue from water sales and higher expenses for supplies (compostable, local, organic, etc.). We don’t have anything additional (big donation, grant, etc.) to make that up. But it just seems like the right thing to do.” Ward said.
“It’s not going to be a perfect zero waste event but we are definitely on our way to making future carnivals zero waste which is exciting,” Woster said.
Whether successful or not, this years Windom Carnival will be a positive step into the future of carnival planning and an inspiration to all of us to waste less.
(Photos courtesy of the Windom Park carnival committee)