Located in the middle of some of the most productive and respected wine country in the world, McMinnville celebrates often if not continuously the amazing depth and breadth of its Pinot Noir production. Each year at the end of July the International Pinot Noir Celebration invades the Linfield College campus.
This event draws over 1200 visitors from around the world. This year they paid $125 or $250 for two a la carte events or $1295 for the entire weekend. The Celebration is sold out; this is a prestigious event beloved by oenophiles and many people return year after year.
Not only do the celebrants return, but so do most volunteers. To keep an major event like the IPNC running smoothly, a great deal of planning takes place and volunteers are encouraged and appreciated. The activities start early with a pre Thank You dinner just for volunteers. With free wine of course. Meals are also offered to volunteers throughout the event so no one goes hungry…and yes, there is plenty of wine if you want.
A successful event planner knows that waste management has to be carefully arranged in order for the grounds and buildings to stay clean and the celebrants not aware of any “dirtiness”. We’ve all been to indoor and outdoor programs where garbage cans overfilled and messes were unattractive. You can use how trash is handled as a measuring tool to rate management of an event.
A few years ago Zero Waste McMinnville started working with the planners at IPNC and the experience has just gotten better and better. In 2015, the total amount of trash that was collected was 1192 pounds. Of that over 943 pounds, or 79 percent of all trash, were diverted from the landfill. Mostly bottles. Obviously, if there is wine to be served, there will be empty bottles to recycle.
Last year over 1267 pounds of trash was generated with 74 percent diverted from the landfill. This year was even bigger and better and I don’t know the numbers yet but I’ll explain why I can feel sure of that.
The people planning IPNC understand there is a wonderful conservative concept in aiming for zero waste. Conservation of our environment is a goal they hold dearly as they encourage the enjoyment of the wines that are produced right here in our beautiful Willamette Valley. Conservation of healthy farmland which not only produces wine grapes, but also hazelnuts, grass seed, landscaping plants, and so much more. Conservation of our visual landscape that might, in other places, not be protected from suburban development.
One of the volunteer positions is to assist during the lunches. The 3-course lunches serve local foods as much as possible with chefs from restaurants in the Northwest. The setting under the towering oak trees with large umbrellas scattered around keeps the grove cool for the midday meal. Tables were covered with linen and set with cloth napkins. China and various sizes of crystal complete the place settings.
For each course, servers quickly provided plates of food and later, removed the place setting. They brought the dirty plates to a sorting station where all food waste was scraped into bins, the dishes and silverware and glassware loaded in trays to go to one of the campus building’s kitchens to wash. The food waste was removed by Zero Waste volunteers and then taken to a large collection area, out of sight of the festival attendees. Zero Waste volunteers also collected paper products and other recyclables. Trucks pulled up, also out of sight, to load and carry the dishes to the kitchen. Linens were collected as the guests left for their afternoon activities, and those were sorted for proper washing. Zero Waste complete clean-up planning included scheduling removal of the food waste by Recology for Greenlands composting.
To one of the planners, there may have been glitches. But to me, as a Zero Waste McMinnville volunteer, it appeared like a well rehearsed dance. Issues that arose were taken care of almost instantaneously. For example, it was apparent the dish scraping area did not have enough containers for the glassware. Quickly reported and within 10 minutes, long before they were needed, many more trays arrived. As I mentioned above, volunteers repeat their offer of help over many tears, so they KNOW what is needed and yes, I really now believe when the director stated her appreciation at the pre-event dinner for the volunteers, that she understands; she never could do it without all of us.
For each of us helping out, we had a pretty small and easy task. But when each of us did our task with an attitude of involvement and enjoyment, the major event became a success. So it is with our mission to help McMinnville become the first city in Oregon to achieve such a wonderful goal as less than 10% of our trash ends up at the landfill. If each person in Mac would get excited to be working on such an important factor in our environment while recognizing the effort is easy, then TOGETHER we can achieve Zero Waste.