Written by Rebecca Pang
Images courtesy of Maui County Farm Bureau
What’s the hottest agriculture event on Maui? For many, it’s the Maui Ag Fest, a community-focused showcase of farmers, food booths, local chefs and family-friendly activities. The upcoming festival takes place on Saturday, April 7 at the Maui Tropical Plantation in Waikapu, Maui.
Now in its 11th year, organizers at the Maui Ag Fest are trying something new — to move the event toward greater sustainability and zero waste.
It only seems natural for an event that highlights local agriculture and Maui-grown products to also consider diverting its waste in overall operations.
What is Zero Waste?
Simply put, it’s a goal of reducing the amount of material we put into landfills by reusing, composting or recycling items. This is a process doesn’t happen overnight, especially for an event as large as the Maui Ag Fest with over 8,000 people expected to attend to enjoy local food, shop for value added items educate themselves on the local agriculture for the one-day event in Central Maui.
To that end, edible Hawaiian Islands, Maui Huliau Green Events and Sustainable Island Products have signed on to support Maui Ag Fest’s Zero Waste efforts. They will all help with staffing, management and implementation of steps toward the Zero Waste program.
Maui Huliau’s two objectives at a Zero Waste event include:
- Divert 75% or more of the event’s waste away from the landfill
- Encourage lifestyle changes for people to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials become reusable
“The diversion of waste for compost is intrinsically tied to agriculture,” said Ashley O’Colmain, program assistant for Maui Huliau Green Events. “Fifty percent of the waste collected at each event is turned into healthy compost which is necessary for sustainable agriculture.”
In the past year, Maui Huliau has helped events like the La Ulu at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens, The Taste of School Gardens, Waldorf Holiday Craft Faire, Kula Festival and Ho’omau move to a Zero Waste Program.
Even the Super Bowl, massive as that is, went Zero Waste.
How can you help?
Maui Ag Fest has confirmed its Grand Taste and the Maui Legacy Pancake Breakfast will be Zero Waste, and they are working on educating food vendors on the benefits of using compostable and biodegradable food containers and utensils. Some, like Maui Fresh Streatery, Three’s Bar and Grill, and Fork & Salad, have already moved to using compostables from companies like Sustainable Island Products.
Look for the Zero Waste stations at the Grand Taste and Maui Legacy Pancake Breakfast, and help volunteers by sorting your trash, recyclables, and compost into the correct bins.
You can also bring your own shopping bags and reusable utensils to the festival. Finally, as you’re enjoying Maui Ag Fest, if you see trash on the ground, pick it up and put it into the trash bin.
Being a community based event, organizers are still seeking volunteers to help support efforts. Here is a link to sign up https://signup.com/client/invitation2/secure/2262715/false#/invitation