Archives For July 2010

There’s nothing like taking a stroll through downtown and happening upon the stages of the Montreal International Jazz Fest.  You’re not sure what, but something drew you in this direction: the distant echo of open air music, the stream of relaxed people coming and going, and the concert lights, lending their glow to the summertime festivities.

The air is fresh and the backdrop of Montreal’s newly redone Quartier des Spectacles is bright and modern.  Set up in front of some rocking performers, what better than a cold beer to make the show all the more enjoyable.  And why not add a grilled sausage to put you in the right frame of mind.

But as you step away from the vendor stands you won’t get far without bumping into a ‘duo-bin’, the Jazz Fest’s sleek combination of recycling and garbage bin.  “Generally, each stand is set up next to a duo-bin,” says vendor Karim Guennoun. “It’s absolutely [part of the organization].”

The rounded green containers dot the festival landscape and signs at all entrances and around the grounds encourage revellers to make sure they recycle at all times and before they leave.

Yves Archambault's artwork for the 2010 Montreal Jazz Fest

Members of the Jazz Net team, equipped with broom and dustpan, are there to keep the site clean and collect the bags from filled duo-bins.  It’s the job of partner organization Consortium Écho-Logique to see to the details.

“We sort the recyclable materials and we try to minimize the amount of material that goes to landfill,” says Olivier Gariépy, a green team leader.  “We receive bags of recyclable materials and we start sorting immediately and put them in the proper containers, be it plastic-glass-metal or refundable cans and bottles.”  The team also deals with paper and carton.  In 2009 the festival diverted 61% of its waste from landfill, recycling 33,661 kg of plastic, glass, metal, carton, and wood.

And this year the Jazz Fest welcomes a new member to the green team: compost.  “It’s a pilot project,” says Alexis Lavoie-Bouchard, grounds supervisor for the festival. “But up to this point it’s been a clear success that will be carried forward in the years to come.”

The festival has purchased compostable utensils and plates for all its food vendors.  Food providers and the festival’s employee cafeteria also have their own compost bins so as to divert as much waste away from garbage bins and ultimately landfill.

The festival follows in the footsteps of other Montreal events like the annual Rogers Cup professional tennis tournament held in August which debuted on-site composting for the tournament-going public last year.

Gariépy, whose Consortium group works with many events like the Grand Prix and professional golf tournaments, doesn’t think there is enough societal awareness of composting yet to make it available to the public.  “For people not to be afraid of composting, it needs to be made as simple as possible.”

“I think a cultural event like the Jazz Fest has to make an effort to limit the waste production and at least recycle as much as possible, so that everyone becomes aware of the waste they create,” says Lavoie-Bouchard, “but also to encourage the idea of…sustainable development.”

And there’s nothing like good music and a green message to help a cold beer go down.