Lately in the news and in our communities, there has been a renewed focus on recycling, packaging, plastics, and waste in general. While part of this is certainly from the collapse of the international recycling markets that began in 2017, awareness has also been raised by the news and social media, as we hear about how nations across the globe are tackling the different issues they face with waste. So, what can we at the Hollywood Farmers Market do to decrease waste and increase sustainability?
What the Hollywood Farmers Market is doing
Here at the Hollywood Farmers Market, sustainability is a key element of the Strategic Plan developed last year. What do we mean when we when we say “sustainability”? One of the most common definitions is: Resource use that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Resources in this case are environmental, social, and economic.
We decided to start with understanding the actual impact of trash at the market by doing a trash audit (essentially sorting through all the garbage and recycling by hand from one Saturday at the market).
The market is attended by 3500-5000 people weekly in summer. Those people generate about three full trash bags and one bin of recycling a week (not bad!). It turns out we are 72% successful at recycling right (there was significant non-recyclable trash in the recycling), and 97% right at having the trash be truly trash (only a small portion was recycling, and we don’t currently have compost access).
Here is the breakdown of what the waste was composed of:
Equipped with this information and brimming with ideas, the Development Committee will be discussing what the best next steps are, including our vendors and community along the journey.
What you can do
Shopping at farmers markets is a great way not only to eat healthy, support your local economy, and celebrate community, but also to avoid packaging and reduce the amount of trash you generate. While food safety regulations control the ways you can and cannot use your own containers at the market, there are many actions you can do to help reduce waste at the market and at home.
- As a shopper, I use the 4R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle (in that order). Do I need a bag? If I do, then I am going to choose the most minimal one I can, reuse it until I can’t anymore, then recycle it. The most important thing I remember when shopping is that far more natural and human resources have gone into the food than any of the bags or packaging, so if I need a bag to protect that food until I can eat it, that is an environmental win to me.
- You CAN bring your own clean shopping bags, produce bags, and containers for items you are bagging yourself.
- For eating you CAN bring your own silverware and drinking cups.
- You CANNOT have vendors serve foods into your containers (other than beverages). This is a liability for the vendor and food safety regulation.
We look forward to continuing to serve our vendors and community as we seek to lessen our environmental impact.
Interested in getting involved? Great! We are also seeking new board members for next year. Please contact board chair Beth Wilmart at email@example.com to get in touch regarding questions, concerns, or interest in joining the board.
Thank you for letting us elevate and celebrate this wonderful market with you!
Board Vice Chair
Board Vice Chair