Zero-Waste Initiative

Much like Pittsburgh is a leader in the design and execution of LEED-certified buildings, Three Rivers Arts Festival is at the leading edge of event environmentalism. In 2008, we implemented a world-class composting and recycling system – one of the first and largest in the nation, with generous support from Colcom Foundation. In both 2008 and 2009, Festival patrons diverted more than 50 tons of waste from landfills.

What is composting?
Composting is nature’s process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil. You can compost a lot of different types of things, like grass clippings, paper products and food waste. Three Rivers Arts Festival takes that one step further, with compostable cups made of cornstarch, cutlery made of potato resin, and even a festival program with a hard-to-find compostable binding.

How You Can Help
Composting on a Festival scale is a little more complex than composting at home. Our program’s success depends on our adherence to rigorous sorting guidelines that ensure all of our compostable items do, in fact, end up as compost. Even small amounts of contamination – say, one piece of foil ending up in a compost bag – can ruin the entire batch. To do your part:

  1. Follow the signs! There are signs on every waste station to help you sort your garbage. In general, things you receive at the Festival are compostable or recyclable, but many things from outside – like waxy fast food wrappers or coffee shop cups – need to go in the garbage.
  2. Ask the environmental educators what to do. Our partners from Pennsylvania Resources Council are on hand every day to answer your questions about composting, recycling, separating your waste, and what you can do at home.

The Zero-Waste Initiative is made possible through the generous support of Colcom Foundation.