Alpena — The 5th Annual Chowder and Chili Cook-off takes on year two of being a zero waste event.
The spoons, trays, and glasses are all reusable. 300 additional muffin trays were ordered to accommodate a larger audience. The wine glasses are the newest addition to the arsenal to help leave minimal human footprints.
“I think this is a way to put Alpena on the map as a small town that is making big strides in being responsible stewards of our environment,” said 4-H Club Coordinator of Plastics FLOAT Stephanie Gandulla.
Downtown Development Director Anne Gentry and the environmental student group Plastics For the Love of Alpena Today (FLOAT) have worked hard to constantly improve the event, finding more ways to steer away from single-use plastics. In addition, they found a compost outlet that will take all of the food and napkin trash to recycle properly instead of heading to a landfill. Waste will go to the Emmet County Recycling facility.
“Last year, when we made the shift to zero-waste, they [Plastics FLOAT] really helped guide us on giving ideas of the muffin tins, how we should compost, how we should sort things, and just having hands at our event,” said Gentry.
Students stand by each trash and recycling area with information on limiting the human footprint on the earth. They also wash and clean dishes. The 5 year old group will be handing out reusable bags for folks who take a pledge to refuse single-use plastics. The bags were made possible by a grant from the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan.
“I’m hoping that we can set an example to other events locally to say ‘hey’ this is possible,” said Gentry. “It’s a little bit of extra planning on the front side of things, it definitely takes some more volunteers to help wash and sort, but it’s definitely something worth while in showing that it’s possible.”
The event takes place on Saturday afternoon. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/488972044902909/