Waste is one of those things we, as civilized humans, don’t like to talk about. But the fact is, it’s an unavoidable byproduct of life. One of the common misconceptions about festival “waste” is that it only refers to what goes in the landfill…
“Waste” actually refers to all of those things generated at the festival that you don’t want to take home with you - which includes compost, recycling, and the smell of those unshowered pickers at the camp next door.
In the modern world, we’ve built complex systems to deal with waste once we’re done with it. While infrastructure differs wildly by location, most places in the developed world are equipped with sewage and trash systems. But not every locality is equipped with composting facilities or comprehensive recycling centers. Telluride happens to be one of those places.
So…what do we do with our compost and recycling from the festivals? To date, it gets hauled 87 miles to the nearest facility that can take it in. The trucks that carry our waste are not particularly efficient - they get 5 MPG on a good day. And, we can only hope there is a healthy post-consumer market that has demand for our recyclables.
At this point, the jury is out on what the most effective solution for our waste is. What’s the impact of driving our compost almost 100 miles to get processed? What happens to recyclables when no one buys them? These are questions we are still trying to work out. Until we find a better solution, we’re going to continue to encourage our Festivarians to REDUCE and REUSE in priority, with recycling reserved as a last resort. If you have any ideas, please reach out!