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Greening the U.S. Boat Shows

From 800 pounds of trash rise the prospect of ‘an entirely green event’

Clearly marked eco-stations like these at Annapolis Market House helped divert hundreds of pounds of recylcables from the trash stream at this year’s Boat Shows.

Beneath the marketplace of dreams that is the U.S. Boat Shows runs a stream of waste.    
    That’s the conclusion of the first ever audit of the waste produced by one of the shows, this year’s Sail Boat Show.
    While you were slipping off your shoes, stepping aboard sleek sailboats and sipping Pusser’s Painkillers, a pair of sustainability managers from the environmental strategies firm WasteStrategies were sorting through 800 pounds of garbage. That’s their “grab sample” of all the trash produced at the event. From it, the recycling consultancy can discover how the Boat Shows, the city of Annapolis and we show-goers can make the annual occasion “an entirely green event.”
    “There’s opportunity to divert as much as 70 percent of material now going into landfills to recycling,” WasteStrategies’ John Nicklin told Bay Weekly.
    This year’s Boat Show trash foray is the most recent in a series of Annapolis festivals. WasteStrategies — which has its headquarters on Harry S Truman Parkway — has worked in partnership with Lynne Forsman and Elvia Thompson, organizers of the popular monthly eco-gathering Green Drinks.
    “It kills me to see events going on without recycling, especially in downtown Annapolis and on the shores of the Chesapeake,” Forsman said.
    In its first season, the Green Team has brought eco-systems — paired 50-gallon recycling drums — to Annapolis Race Week, Maryland Seafood Festival, the Hospice Cup Shore Party, the Boat Show Bash at Eastport Yacht Club and the New Market House.
    The next festival they’re greening is the Eastport-Annapolis Tug of War on the first Saturday of November.
    “The whole point is to get the community engaged so living this way becomes a matter of course,” Thompson told Bay Weekly.
    Their conclusion so far: “If there’s an eco-station, people will use it,” said Forsman. If there’s not, they won’t.
    To make the reminders clear to party-goers with other things than recycling on their minds, eco-systems make a clear statement of purpose. “They’re big, bold, colored, 50-gallon octagonal drums,” says Forsman. “Brown for trash and green recycling, with eye-level signage and pictures all over of what can go in,” .
    The big Boat Show effort was the waste stream audit. That, says WasteStreams’ Nicklin, is how you begin to make a difference.
    “You can’t put some containers in and tell people to put this here and that there. You need to know the environmental profile of any waste stream. We’re not afraid to get our hands dirty, but we take a scientific approach to waste management.”
    With full beginning-to-end management, Nicklin reports, their first year recycling totals at Annapolis festivals ranged from as high as 78 to as low as 50 percent. “By any measurement, that’s a huge success,” he says.
    “This year we got started,” Nicklin says. “It was a huge milestone for the Boat Show to agree to allow us to come in and profile the waste.”