08 September 2010

Waste Not, Want Not

When does less equal more? When you’re talking about garbage, for one.  At Portland Farmers Market, we are serious about sustainability and the fact that less waste generated at our markets means more resources for the generations to come. This year, with generous support from the City of Portland, we launched our EverGreen initiative, a comprehensive waste reduction plan designed to address this crucial issue.

As the city’s largest continuous event every Saturday for 40 weeks out of the year, the impact of PFM “going green” is major. On a typical Saturday at our PSU Market, we might host 12,000 – 15,000 shoppers and generate more than sixty 45-gallon garbage bags loaded with food scraps, plastic water bottles, disposable coffee cups, paper plates, packaging and other discarded items destined for the landfill.

If you have visited the PSU Market this season, you are probably accustomed to the composting and recycling stations that have replaced the trash cans around the market. These stations are but one component of EverGreen, but quite a significant one.  In fact, they have allowed us to exceed our diversion rate goal by nearly 25%!  Check out these numbers:

Total Garbage Generated
10,274 lbs

Total Garbage Diverted
7,542 lbs

Total Percentage Diverted

This incredible feat would not have been possible without our incredibly devoted crew made up of EverGreen Coordinator Damien Lopez, EverGreen Outreach Intern Bethany Davidson, superstar volunteer Nick Wood, and countless others.  Thank you Team Garbage for all the good dirty work you do!

Another important component of the EverGreen program falls upon our market vendors.  This year, all hot food vendors at our PSU market were required to switch to compostable food service ware in compliance with the City of Portland commercial composting program and refrain from selling plastic bottled water.  Thank you to the following PSU hot food vendors for embracing the Evergreen guidelines and contributing to the extraordinary success of this program:

C’est Si Bon!
Café Vélo
Enchanted Sun Breakfast Burritos
LoveJoy Food
Northwest Heritage
PineState Biscuits
Salumeria di Carlo
Salvador Molly’s Restaurant
Spunky Monkey Coffee Roasters
Via Chicago

We also applaud all the market vendors who are making sustainability part of their business model—vendors such as TWIST Wine Company, who uses compostable tasting cups for their samples, Barefoot Chicken at the NW 23rd Market, who voluntarily complies with the new EverGreen service ware guidelines even though they are not required to, and Osmogaia who repurposes plastic bags for gathering produce—you are an inspiration to us!

Portland Farmers Market is committed to becoming the “greenest,” most sustainable farmers market in the United States and creating a model that can be shared with organizations around the country. The EverGreen program has launched at the PSU Market this year, but our goal is that it will encompass all of our markets by the beginning of the 2012 season. We have a challenging but attainable goal: By 2012, we hope to divert 90% of waste from all Portland Famers Market sites to recycling and compost streams.  With your help and support, we know we can achieve this worthy goal!

If you are interested in joining our EverGreen campaign and making an impact in your community, please click here for more information.