From compostable packaging to reusable containers, additional recycling stations to a glass deposit return scheme, the Slow Food Festival in Derry next month is going all out in its aim to achieve maximum sustainability.
The Slow Food movement has strong environmental roots, promoting high quality, local produce in a clean and fair way, so it makes sense the local festival – the only one of its kind in Northern Ireland – is pushing for a plastic-free event with the modern-day three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) to the fore.
Conor Canning, Head of Environment and Regeneration with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “We are leading by example at our corporate events by building a more sustainable region and we hope the public will embrace these changes and adopt them both at home and out and about by reducing, recycling and reusing more.
“Our target is to achieve a 50% recycling rate by 2020 and we hope the initiatives at the Slow Food Festival will help us to get there. While we are encouraging everyone to recycle, our ultimate goal is to reduce waste and reverse our disposable culture which is causing so much damage to the planet.”
There will be no shortage of opportunities to put sustainability into practice at the Slow Food Festival.
All single-use plastics will be cut from the Harvest Market marquee bar. Instead, customers will be encouraged to pay a deposit and to reuse their glass, with the deposit being returned when the glass is handed in at the end of the night.
Street Food traders taking part in the Festival are being encouraged to use compostable packaging. Plant-based starch containers can be used to serve the street food and can then be processed by the council’s facilities and turned into compost just like the food waste itself. While compostable packaging is more costly, it has enormous benefits for the environment.
Recycling stations will be available in multiple locations around the event with friendly volunteers from Zero Waste NW on hand to advise on which bins to dispose of which rubbish for anyone confused by the various options available.
Shoppers at the Harvest Market are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags and food containers for any purchases they make from the myriad of slow food producers, including cheese and chutney makers, bakers, butchers, sweets and sauce suppliers, veg growers and more.
Free compost will also be available to some of the visitors to the Slow Food Festival. The council has been producing its own compost for some time through the food caddy scheme in many homes in the area and it is used on council facilities including cemeteries, parks and roundabouts. A limited amount will be given away during the festival.
Horticulturalist Jonathan Mitchell who delivers the council’s Be Well initiative from his base in Brooke Park will also be on hand to give visitors advise on how to ‘grow their own’ which will help the region achieve greater sustainability.
Jennifer O’Donnell, Tourism Manager, Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “The Slow Food Festival is the perfect place to promote the council’s sustainability message as so much of it goes hand-in-hand with a commitment to the community and environment.
“All of our producers adhere to the highest standards and are already keen proponents of sustainability so we hope the many visitors to our award-winning festival will pick up some new ideas that they can incorporate into their daily lives.”
Derry City and Strabane District Council has its own recycling app ‘bin-ovation’ where residents and visitors can find out all their ‘binformation’. If you download the free app before September 30, you have the chance to win a Samsung tablet.
For more information on the Slow Food Festival which runs from October 9 – 13, visit: www.derrystrabane.com/food