In 2019, Island Vibe Festival took a leap in sustainability by choosing to reuse and wash instead of using throw-away containers, setting a new standard in waste reduction at Australian events. As events rebuild and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, the science is here to tell you that reusables are safe to use and here to stay!
Held on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) in Queensland, Island Vibe had over 3,000 festivalgoers - that meant plenty of dishes to wash. Island Vibe collaborated with Henry Smale of Lixo Sustainability Services to build a portable wash station capable of cleaning 320 plates per hour, smashing the legacy of the festival’s single-use past.
“Unfortunately in 2017, we had a situation where large amounts of biodegradable food containers couldn’t be composted because they were throwing off the balance of dry & wet matter,” says Smale. “We ended up having to send around half of them to landfill, which was a real blow, given how hard we worked to separate the waste streams.”
The waste team at Island Vibe knew they had to create a better solution, but couldn’t find any off-the-shelf products that were up to the task – so they invented their own 100% reusable system for the festival. Rather than purchasing new materials, they decided to go retro, serving food and drinks in ceramic plates, mugs and bowls acquired from St Vincent’s De Paul in Brisbane.
“Using crockery that you would have at home created the feeling that people were over at a friend’s house for dinner, or at a picnic,” noted Smale. “It both increased intimacy and helped foster a participatory and respectful attitude, rarely seen at events of this size.”
Audience feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with over 90% of punters rating Righteous Reusables as a ‘very positive’ scheme that should be implemented at other events. As one user commented, ‘I love not seeing plastic and trash everywhere. So simple,’ while another said, ‘I think it’s a great idea and will only get better.’
It’s common for Australian events to serve food on disposable plastic plates & bowls, and it’s still common to have your coffee served in a typical take-away cup, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. But we know single-use items - even the biodegradable ones - are much worse for the environment, and aren’t necessarily safer than reusables. Thanks to Island Vibes and other festivals pushing the limits on sustainability, it’s becoming increasingly clear there’s a better way for our post-COVID world – aka Righteous Reusables!
KEY INSIGHTS (2019)
- 71% were aware of the dish washstation scheme
- 93% know what to do with their dishes after eating a meal
- 92% were very positive about the washstation scheme
- 93.6% were very positive about similar schemes being implemented at other festivals, and valued waste reduction as 'very important'
- 66% of interviewees were from QLD (Stradbroke, Gold or Sunshine Coast), with 33% from NSW
- 60% travelled by car, 12% by bus, and most cars had 2 people in them.
- The Righteous Reusables washtruck is capable of cleaning 320 plates / hour