Zero Waste Is a Challenge Faced

I am a member of the Zero Waste Team here at the Environmental Center and I am very excited about the project I’m working on this year! Emma Kurfis, another Zero Waste Team member, and I are working on a Zero Waste Event Service Guide specific to Fort Lewis College. This guide will be available to everyone on campus and hopefully used by all of the event coordinators. We can also directly get involved with event coordinators to tailor the service to their specific event. To gain experience in the event planning process, we are working on several pilot events in which we partner with event coordinators to reduce the amount of waste produced at event. Skyfest is our next big pilot event, taking place on April 7th.

Skyfest music festival at Fort Lewis College

Skyfest is the highlight of the spring semester for many students, with bands from all over the country visiting FLC campus. Skyfest was outdoors in previous years. Photo courtesy of

Skyfest is a big music festival put on by Student Union Productions at Fort Lewis each year, with headliner bands Gramatik and Radical Something making appearances at this year’s festival. Local bands will also play at the event. As part of the EC’s zero waste event service, Emma and I are working with the coordinators of Skyfest to reduce waste in as many aspects of the event as possible. This event is our first large pilot event to test out the service and in the organizing we have learned how challenging it can be to make an event less wasteful. There are so many areas to consider when planning a zero waste event, some of which are not in our control, as we are not the coordinators of the event. However, the coordinators are very open to our suggestions, which is awesome! Members of SUP have been supportive of our ideas and came up with a few ideas themselves. One of the main goals of our event servicing is to provide zero waste ideas and ingrain zero waste concepts in the minds of the coordinators, so that eventually event planners may attempt to make events less wasteful on their own.

There are several major aspects of Skyfest where we are working on to reduce the amount of waste produced. The first is trash. Ideally, we would like to have no trash produced at the event but this is highly unrealistic being that we can’t regulate what food or disposable items people bring into the event. However, we will be providing several recycling stations in the event to divert as as many recyclable items from landfills as possible. We are recruiting volunteers to help watch over the stations to ensure everything is recycled properly, as contamination is a huge problem with recycling here at Fort Lewis. This will also be a chance for us to spread some education on recycling to the campus community.

The second aspect of the event we are working with is water. When we first talked to the coordinators, they were going to provide bottled water for guests and the bands. We decided to set up water refilling stations instead. With the help of the Athletic Department, we secured several large water jugs for the event that we will refill throughout the event. Students are not allowed to bring full water bottles into the event but if they bring empty drink containers, they can fill them at the stations. There will also be a jug backstage for the bands. The coordinators of Skyfest are purchasing reusable plastic cups that they will hand out to anyone who does not have a water bottle. The cups can be taken home by guests and used or given back to the Skyfest coordinators to be washed and reused at different events.

At Skyfest, we will have an Environmental Center interactive table to teach people about zero waste, specifically recycling. There will be a game called the “Wheel of Recycling” that guests can take part in. After the event, we plan to measure our results by weighing how much trash and recycling were generated at the event. We can potentially take these statistics every year and compare results, aiming to reduce the amounts annually.

As you can imagine, the process of planning zero waste events can take a lot of time and can be very difficult. This process also involves lots of collaboration with other campus and sometimes community partners, and can also build great connections.

If you would like to volunteer to help with the waste reduction practices at Skyfest, please email one of us (below) or drop by the Environmental Center and sign up. The event is on Sunday, April 7th from noon to 9:30 p.m. in the Whalen Gymnasium. The event is free for students and $15 for community members, with tickets available in the SUP office in the Student Union. Come support Fort Lewis College and the environment!

For more information about the zero waste aspects of the event or the Zero Waste Event Servicing, you can email me ( or Emma Kurfis ( or stop by the Environmental Center! For more information about Skyfest, you can visit the SUP office in the Student Union.

By Jessica Smyke

Get Crafty

The Zero Waste team getting crafty!

Zero Waste Team Members


Get Crafty

We’ve all heard it said, and probably said it ourselves; “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” However the reality of this statement is about to come into play as the Zero Waste Team sponsors a contest to see who’s trash can become the most creative treasure. Get this; you can win really cool stuff by submitting a photo of you and something you made out of re-useable goods. Awesome right? Here’s how.

To begin, check out the “Get Crafty” booth that’s going to be outside of Reed Library (unless its bitter cold or wet in which case it’ll be inside the CUB) on February 16. Get some information and some inspiration for when you take your picture with your creative creation on February 25. The winners will be judged and picked by real students in the CUB on February 28.

Check it out its gonna rock!!! In the mean time, check out the Free Store on Thursdays for fun inspiration or just cool stuff.

Recreational Recycling in Germany

EC Green and WhiteWhen I was flying to Germany over winter break I was expecting to encounter the land of beer, techno music, and BMW’s (and I certainly encountered all of the aforementioned several times), but what I did not expect was a recycling system that environmentalists in the states could only dream of.

Before I start, it’s important to note that German families love recycling. I spent two weeks in a German family’s home and we spent many a day frolicking around the streets looking for refuse. All Germans have five different, color-coded “garbage” cans that they set in front of their house, similar to what your garbage man picks up here, only one-third of the size. Each color corresponds with what each family must (emphasis on “must”) put into it. Green is for paper; yellow is for plastic (and all products in grocery stores that contain plastic have a convenient green dot on them); brown is for compost; and black for anything else, such as tissues, leftovers, and toiletries.

For glass there are several containers around the city for Germans to deposit green, brown, and clear glass — think of our recycling center, only in multiple locations. Residents can give beer and other glass bottles to any supermarket and receive €.25 for each one. The store sends them to their respective companies that refill them.  Certain plastic bottles are also available for the same refund, but most of these are recycled instead of being refilled.

I  also discovered that Germans even made the diameter of the holes in the tops of their McFlurry cups at McDonalds smaller because when people threw away them in the street hedgehogs crawled into the cup at night, got stuck, and died. I don’t know if this is what prompted Germany to institute such an extensive recycling system, but Germans intimate relationship with their waste stream suggests that it’s the throw-away consumer culture of the U.S. that needs recycling.

Jamison Griffith