2018-08-23 / Front Page

Broadway Street Fair Goes Green This Year

By James Merolla

Fairgoers are encouraged to bring their own water bottles and refill at the WaterMonster station in order to reduce single-use plastic bottle waste. Fairgoers are encouraged to bring their own water bottles and refill at the WaterMonster station in order to reduce single-use plastic bottle waste. The October Broadway Street Fair has been environmentally friendly and conscious of the impact that thousands of fairgoers might leave on the street the past two years. It has left little behind except good memories of a good time. This fall, the fair is looking to improve upon its imprint and go totally green with the help of Clean Ocean Access and a $1,000 legislative grant from state Rep. Lauren Carson.

The fair, which attracts thousands of families for food, music, browsing artisan offerings and seeing old friends, is set for Saturday, Oct. 6 from noon to 6 p.m. and is sponsored by the Broadway Merchants Association. This year, waste will be converted into compost, and plastic water bottles will be minimized through the distribution of free water.

“The first year, the only thing left on the street was an overstuffed couch that materialized from a nearby apartment, so people could listen to the music at Stone Street in comfort,” said Karl Nurse, one of the event organizers. “When no owner could be found, the street fair committee took it to the waste management transfer station.”

The second year, with a large team of volunteers under the supervision of Nurse and Sean Napolitano, all the Clean City trash and recycling stations were off the street within an hour of the fair ending.

“In 2018, at the Volvo Ocean Race, we worked with 100 percent compostable material, used for education, outreach and sustainability, and that proved to be a great success,” said David McLaughlin, executive director of Clean Ocean Access.

“We are going to work with businesses and individuals who work on the fair and promote the concept of zero waste. With composted materials, you get healthy seeds, healthy soils and healthy people. When people start thinking about composting, they will realize they are recycling and we want people to wonder, ‘Why are we throwing anything out?’ We look at the Broadway Street Fair to bring these topics to life and ask these questions.”

The committee is also hiring the Compost Plant, Rhode Island’s first commercial food scrap collection and bulk compost delivery service. Waste stations of three color-coded bins for composting, recycling and garbage will be spaced at key locations.

“They will be reasonably spaced apart. I use the phrase, ‘Make America Walk Again,’” said McLaughlin, “with clear signage of what goes into each container, with volunteers to answer any questions.”

The committee is seeking volunteers to help visitors put things in the correct bins, similar to the volunteers who wore recycling necklaces at the Volvo race.

To further reduce the environmental impact, the restaurants that are vending on the street will make a group purchase of compostable tableware, bowls, plates, cups and cutlery.

Using the grant, the committee will rent a WaterMonster refill station. The portable self-serving bulk water dispenser is equipped with multiple outlets, while the 125-gallon tank capacity is equivalent to 1,000 16-ounce water bottles or 3,000 paper cups. So in order to minimize the purchase of single-use plastic water bottles, people are encouraged to bring a water bottle from home and refill it at the WaterMonster, which will be placed at the Family Station near the Fifth Element Restaurant.

In support of Newport’s adoption of the plastic bag ordinance in 2017, which eliminates the distribution of single-use plastic carryout bags, vendors are being asked to supply paper bags for customers and residents are asked to bring their own resuable shopping bags from home.

“It would be really wonderful if the Broadway Street Fair, in 2018, could reduce to zero waste," Carson said. "I know the city can do it. We have made great strides in reductions of waste. I wish the fair the very best of luck in achieving that goal.”

To volunteer at the street fair, email broadwaystreetfair@gmail.com or sign up at cleanoceanaccess.org/action/volunteer.

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