Two mighty rivers of change will converge this year at the Riverfest. The first change: Wichitans have, if a tad slowly, begun to recycle. (Yeah!) The second change: With the support of Bombardier Learjet, Riverfest officials are seriously stepping up the recycling this year, making it easier to recycle than not while you're food courting and kayaking. (Yeah!)
The results should make it ridiculously easy for visitors to find clearly marked containers for their plastics. Not only will the river banks and downtown areas be left with less trash, but as always when recycling, visitors will be part of a trend to spare the landfills, save oil and money, and preserve a few trees and some water.
Bombardier Learjet has worked with other festivals globally, and sponsored last year's recycling efforts as the first official recycling partner of the fest. Last year, the efforts resulted in 23,000 plastic bottles going to a recycling plant instead of a landfill.
You've finished that root beer and the plate of funnel cake? Time to look for the recycling pods purchased for this year's Riverfest. Twenty recycling stations will be placed in high-traffic areas. Riverfest spokesperson Celia Cayless says they'll also be asking announcers at the events to let everyone know where the nearest pods are. And, the pods are likely to be within 50 feet of you at any event. You will not, according to organizers, be able to miss them. Riverfest volunteers will be ready to help empty the pods. Cayless said that the “Green Team” volunteers will be on hand to help empty the pods.
If you recycle at home (and according to a recent KDHE study, nine of ten Kansans are now), you know the initial shock of witnessing the sparse trash left when the recycleables have been removed. That expanding landfill in Harper County becomes more easily visualized. City Hall may debate the wisdom of required recycling for another decade or two, but the evidence in households changing over to sorting their trash is fairly convincing by itself.
Now multiply a family's paper and plastic leftovers after fast-food night by the 150,000-300,000 fest visitors after nine days. Drink cans, drink bottles, beer cups, sticks from the foods-on-sticks, and greasy plates from pizza and Indian tacos—tons of potentially recyclable items wasted if it's pointlessly routed to the landfill.
So, find the pod. Look sternly at those who don't, and hope they will next year.
Fifty feet too far to walk out of your way? You can always head off the trauma by bringing (and taking home) your own reusable aluminum water bottle.
For more information on this year's Riverfest, visit Wichita Riverfest on FetchToto.