Telluride Bluegrass: Our Bluegrass is green

Telluride Bluegrass: Our Bluegrass is green

[click “Play” to hear Kris Holstrom on the greening of Bluegrass]

100_0002 Once upon a time, Telluride Bluegrass meant dumpsters belching the remains of the day that had been marinated in one too many beers drunk from one too many plastic cups. Do you recall the debris littering Town Park, including plastic everything, from water bottles to utensils? Do you remember when the Festival changed its tune?

About 10 years ago, Kris Holstrom saw the festival waste as a resource for compost for her organic farm. The now director of The New Community Coalition began gathering food scraps behind the scenes from the vendors.

 “Initially, I was taking home maybe two pickup truckloads of food scraps from the event.”

Six years ago, Festival directors Craig Ferguson, Steve Szymanki and Craig’s cousin, head of operations, Big Jon, asked Kris if she could help them expand their green efforts. It was similar to the moment Dylan plugged in at Woodstock. The summer festival season in Telluride would never be the same.

As Kris remembers it, that same year, Blues and Brews also wanted to start composting. Festival director Steve  Gumble also began carbon offsetting and became similarly obsessed as the Bluegrass team with the Holy Grail: Zero Waste. Back then, Steve also commissioned Kelvin Verity to build the solar powered light stands out of recycled materials, batteries charged by the sun during the day then set up for the lights at night.  

Mountainfilm began composting at the Ice Cream Social a few years back. This year, the nonprofit made even greater commitment to using biodegradable/compostable material for the majority of their special events. Festival directors David Holbrooke and Peter Kenworthy also  started doing carbon offsetting and have contributed to TNCC’s Green Fund.

Aubrey Hackman and Lanie Demas’s Yoga Festival declared their intentions from the start: green became their mantra.

That first year Bluegrass turned green, Kris teamed up with recycling guru/ festival clean-up supervisor Denise Mongan. The two of them rolled up their sleeves and got to work. For starters, vendors were made to buy biodegradable products, including utensils, plates, and cups. Until they found a commercial composting company out of Hotchkiss, that first year, Kris and her interns spent hours using a tiny chipper/shredder to process all the compostables at her Tomten Farm.

The Hotchkiss facility quickly went the way of the wooly mammoth, but today, thanks to a grant TNCC received from the state, TNCC has purchased an in-vessel, mid-sized composter, to be delivered to the composting site in Illium within a few short weeks which should be fully functional very soon. Bottom line: Bluegrass compost will be processed within 10 miles of town, a great improvement over sending the fluff and stuff 70 or 100+ miles away.

“The Earth Bin we’re purchasing from Green Mountain Technologies will mean we can compost for festivals locally.”

And there’s more good news. Press the “play” button on her podcast and listen to Kris talk about other Telluride Bluegrass initiatives, including Green Town, the waste audit, Pledge for the Planet, and more…

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