Composting, recycling address fair trash
Published: October 6, 2013 | Last Modified: October 9, 2013 11:17AM
By Mark Dionne Town Times
A composting program began this year at the 94th annual Durham Fair and was a success, according to Marilyn Keurajian of the Clean Energy and Sustainability Task Force.
The program, which covers of Durham and Middlefield, was started by the task force, which is chaired by Susan Michael. The program was initially open only to civic groups in the first year because of familiarity. Approximately 27 booths participated.
According to Keurajian, some commercial vendors found out about the program at the last minute and were so enthusiastic about composting they also participated. Booths such as the Coginchaug Little League, the Levi Coe Library, and the Benchwarmers put compostable trash in specially marked green bins on loan from HQ Carting. Volunteers, who came from Michael’s ECO Club at Coginchaug Regional High School and others who heard about the program, emptied those bins in the morning and checked two other times during fair days.
Some of the compostable materials included food scraps, meat and certain other items that would otherwise end up in the trash. Keurajian said, “We told people pretty much everything but fish guts and children,” which instructed volunteers on the range of compostable materials and also served as a test to see if they were listening.
According to Keurajian, the John Lyman corn booth produced the highest volume of compostable material at the fair with “bags and bags of corn husks” and the Durham Co-op had some of the heaviest barrels because of the chicken scraps.
The material will go to a commercial interest and be broken down into a dark, nutrient rich soil. According to Keurajian, composting has a two-fold benefit. “You’re getting a usable product and you’re not throwing things away so you’re making the waste stream smaller.”
Many booths displayed signs advertising their participation in the program. The signs featured a cartoon worm with the words, “We’re feeding the tiniest livestock.”
The program relied on a grant from the Coginchaug Valley Education Foundation and additional support from RJ Consulting.
Participatants in the program, both at the task force and in booths, have already started talking about repeating the program next year. Keurajian said, “There was a lot of talk that started with ‘You know what you should do next year ...’”
Traditional recycling also continued with volunteers for the eighth straight year at the Durham Fair. Boy Scout Troop 27 of Durham and more members of CRHS’s ECO Club made multiple loops around the fair to pull swollen bags of bottles and cans out of blue barrels.
According to Boy Scout leader and tractor-driver Mike Phenicie, a group empties the recyclable containers three or four times per day. The bags have to be sorted after collection, said Phenicie, because people still put trash in the blue barrels despite the signs and the narrow tubes on the top of each barrel for deposits.
Many bottles still have soda or water in them when the volunteers pull them out and have to be rinsed. Phenicie also said that the bins sometimes contain alcohol bottles and cans, which are not supposed to be on the fairgrounds but are recyclable.
On Saturday night at the fair, according to Phenicie, the crowds were so tight and barrels so full, a round of collection took two hours.