Rockers Go Green at Milwaukee’s Music Festival

By Karen Mark

I recently staffed an EPA booth for the first Rock the Green festival committed to seeking near-zero waste in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was skeptical at first, a “near-zero waste” event? Not only was I impressed by what I saw but I realized that behavioral changes are the most effective way to reduce waste and energy.

Simple measures add up! The festival was powered entirely from biodiesel generators, solar and bicycle power. Concert merchandise featured recycled t-shirts from Goodwill with a screen printed Rock the Green guitar logo. Each t-shirt was unique. Volunteers assisted attendees in properly disposing of food and compostable plates and utensils into compost and recycle bins. The compost will become fertilizer for Veterans Park, the event locale.

Great music and food made it worthwhile and knowing the small “carbon footprint” from Rock the Green made it even more enjoyable. This year was such a success that Rock the Green will be back in 2012!

Every year, Americans produce huge amounts of waste. Here are some student projects that are changing their community’s habits to “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

After learning their local landfill would be full by 2013, junior high students formed EcoLogical in Homer, Alaska to reduce their school’s waste. They switched the school’s non-recyclable trays to reusable plastic trays and created a recycling area in the cafeteria. By the end of the school year, EcoLogical prevented 2,000 polystyrene trays from entering the landfill and increased recycling by 3 times in their school.

When a 6th grade science class from HB Woodlawn in Arlington, Virginia visited a local stream to study about watersheds, they were shocked to discover electronic equipment dumped into the stream. Since the county only offered drop-off sites for recycling electronics, the students launched their “We’ll Bring It to You” Curbside Electronics Recycling project. Students, their parents and school faculty collected more than 450 pieces of ‘e-waste’ from homes and properly disposed of them at the drop-off sites.

Hundreds of thousands enjoy the annual Durham Fair in Connecticut. The Coginchaug High School’s Environmental Coginchaug Organization (ECO) Club and Boy Scout Troop 27 collected over 19,000 plastics bottles at the fair, accounting for nearly one-third of the bottles sold. They educated the public about the importance of recycling. All recyclables collected were turned into recycled packaging products.

To read more about the 3 R’s

About the author: Karen Mark is a Student Temporary Employment Program intern in the Air and Radiation Division in Region 5. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Environmental Management and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Public Service Management.

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