Ethnic Expo events recycled 950 pounds of waste

By Paul Ploumis

The 2021 Ethnic Expo series has announced its sustainability results, which succeeded in keeping 49% of the events’ waste out of the Bartholomew County Landfill via recycling and composting.

Organizers said these results dramatically exceed the nationwide recycling rate of 34.7% (per EPA data, 2015). The four Ethnic Expo events in downtown Columbus diverted 950 pounds of waste from the landfill.

The Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District headed up the waste diversion effort for the festivals with support from local Energy Matters Community Coalition.

Partnering with Indianapolis-based company Ecosystem Events, they implemented recycling programs at the Juneteenth, Chinese Expo, and Ganesh Festival of India events. For the Fiesta Latina event in October, they piloted a composting program in addition to recycling. The programs were supported by grants from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Heritage Fund, Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.

Ethnic Expo is a series of events celebrating cultures that come together in Columbus, to create a vibrant, welcoming community. Each event in the series highlights a particular nationality or ethnicity. With input and participation from local residents, the events include authentic foods, music, and programs that represent the traditions of the featured cultures.

“We’re thrilled that the four Ethnic Expo events this year reflected the city’s care for the environment.,” says Kelly Geckler, member of the CAC sub-committee leading the waste diversion efforts. “The Citizens Advisory Committee seeks to lead local community projects that reduce the amount of trash that is deposited in our Bartholomew County landfill. Our goal is to never site another landfill, and since events have a huge impact on creating waste, this is an important area for us to focus our efforts. This pilot project proved that implementing recycling and composting can make a difference in the amount of waste generated at our local events and it should be the objective of all local community events.”

“The city of Columbus and the Citizens Advisory Committee made great strides in reducing the environmental impact of Ethnic Expo,” says Julia Spangler, owner of Ecosystem Events. “Recovering waste materials in a festival setting is complex. The CAC fully committed to the process of creating a detailed waste diversion plan, and their dedication paid off with these excellent results.”