The Telluride Jazz Festival is dedicated to managing our event responsibly, and we take that commitment to new levels every year. Our office staff pursued answers to questions that paid more than lip-service to the details of food service, disposal, and where everything actually ends up and why. Being festival-goers ourselves, we explored an area of event management that many take for granted, and learned a lot about CRT (Compost, Recycle, and Trash) which covers just about everything we “throw away.”

After numerous emails, inquiries, and meetings, along with the support of the Global Environment Fund, we collaborated with Eco Action Partners to set up CRT stations in general audience, patron, backstage, and vendor areas. These stations were designed to educate the public on where to toss disposables – and more importantly why. There needs to be a lot of communication going on to make responsible recycling actually work, and to make the job of the volunteers, waste service, and composting service much easier. Rather than walking up to a trash receptacle and having someone point out where to throw our waste and recyclables, we had volunteers at these receptacles explaining why certain items go in certain polycarts—the idea being to take responsibility for what we throw away.

Our feeling was that if these stations were attractive, informative, and manned by a helpful volunteer, we might actually be able to make a difference beyond our event. A reminder that would stick with patrons at home, at the office, and while traveling. Walter Wright of the New Community Coalition designed new polycart skirts and tops that provided information on where to dispose of just about everything. The skirts have subsequently been used by Telluride Film Festival and Telluride Blues & Brews Festival.

The Telluride Jazz Festival no longer purchases bottled water for our events. Instead, we provide filtered water stations and reusable water bottles. This cuts down significantly on plastic waste. Our food vendors, caterers, and Brewnote Cafe are required to use compostable serveware so that waste is composted quickly at a designated composting facility in the area. The Telluride Jazz Festival also asks all vendors to offer alternate bags for purchases as well as approved “to go” containers.

Every little bit helps—at a time when everyone needs to be concerned about waste and the future, we are committed to learning more and working with others to make each year better.