THE NEW England’s first zero waste festival is here.
Season’s of New England organiser Tara Toomey has spent months researching how to close the loop.
“We’ve always tried to have a minimal environmental impact,” she said.
“We have the standard that everything has to be made in New England so there’s no cans of soft drink, we asked out stallholders to not use plastic bags and make sure they choose products that are biodegradable or recyclable.”
The festival celebrates locally grown produce, creatives and niche products – all made in the New England.
Waste was previously left to Uralla Shire Council to deal with, but Armidale’s City to Soil program means none of the waste will need to go into landfill.
It was an opportunity to go zero waste without too much effort, Ms Toomey said.
“The challenge was to try and make sure that everyone had products that were definitely accepted in a local facility, because we had a lot of our hard work going into landfill,” she said.
“We wanted to close the loop by setting up a system, working with stallholders to make sure everything works and deliver to the City to Soil program.”
Responsible consumerism is becoming more of an expectation, and producers have started accommodating in their own right.
Like Greenhill Orchards owner Warren Yeoman, who grows apples, pears, peaches and cherries for a living.
Providing a plastic bag when picking up fruit has been common practice for a long time in the grower’s industry.
“To change from that to another package is a bit of a challenge because the fruit has condensation on the product and paper bags disintegrate,” he said.
“You’ve got to find something that can cope with moisture and is durable as well – if people can bring their own bag to take home that would be the ideal.
“If we can get away from that it will help people develop new habits.”
For many, the toughest part is finding a cost effective solution to buying and selling responsibly.
Plastic is still by far the cheapest form of packaging available to producers.
But, the industry is changing, and Mr Yeoman said he expects that ultimately the cost of responsible consumerism will lie with the consumer themselves.
“We’ve tried things over the years as far as having reusable crates,” he said.
“I think consumers expect it.”
Ms Toomey said so far the feedback she’s received about her zero waste goal has all been positive.
“It’s worth a little bit of fanangling [sic] because we have to change our mind set,” she said.
“Consumers expect it, that’s the bug bear we’ve had, but it’s been really positive.”
Seasons of New England is on March 24 at Hampden Park, Uralla.