Oak Bay Tea Party: Parade goes balloon free for environmental protection

Hand sorting shifts 3,000 pounds of ‘trash’ to recycling

Balloons are taboo this Tea Party.

“We are asking parade participants to help by not decorating their floats with balloons and we have a new judging category Best Decorated Float without Balloons,” said OBTP Society chair Sandy Germain.

They are also recommending that if candy is to be handed out during the parade, paper wrapped options are better than plastic. In the past those little bits of plastic create a headache when separating the garbage.

It’s just another shift the event takes toward environmental protection.

Last year, garbage sorters diverted 3,000 pounds of ‘garbage’ from the landfill

Noreen Taylor takes the lead each year, volunteering for four days of trash picking and sorting that leaves her feeling happy.

Taylor has a goal of making it a zero-waste event, and after years of fine-tuning the collection system, she and the team have managed to divert 95 per cent from the landfills – 80 per cent goes to compost and 15 per cent gets recycled. She takes it as a challenge to try to bring that 5 per cent down to zero.

“Last year we were almost at two tonnes of compost that we diverted from the landfill. And that turns into good stuff. The thought that we can take something that is a pile of garbage and turn it into something that is useful, that really does excite me,” said Taylor. “I’m a gardener, so the more compost we have, the better. The more we can turn crummy stuff into something useful, I’m all for it.”

There are 40 stations with two receptacles around the venue, one bin for returnables and one big green bin for everything else. Taylor and her team go through everything and separate it.

“Every square inch from that whole venue goes through my fingers,” said Taylor. “I rely on about 6 volunteers over weekend, as well as municipal staff,” said Taylor. “I want to say thank you so much to Chris Hyde-Lay and his Parks and Recreation team. He is so good. Without them we wouldn’t be able to do this at all.”

All of the vendors at the event are required to use compostable containers and utensils for the food they are selling. So everything goes to compost if people buy their food and beverages at the event. Taylor encourages people to enjoy what is at the event and not bring in containers from outside that aren’t compostable.

Last year hand-sorting saved 3,740 pounds from heading for the landfill. The weekend came out to about 16 bags of hard plastic, 14 bags of soft plastic and 9.5 totes of garbage.

“It’s a dirty, horrible, concentrated job, but I bet it’s the most rewarding job in the whole event,” Taylor said. “I’d rather have my head in garbage than put me in one of those tea cups on the ocean.”


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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