“Being recognized at the state level is an honor for all of us who have been dedicated to the mission of making our event sustainable,” said Marci Cisneros, the festival’s director. “Special thanks to our Green Team — who, back in 2010, really helped us focus on what needed to be done to minimize our impact on the environment.”
According to Cisneros, once the goal of “zero waste to landfill” was in place, it was necessary to get everyone’s support — the festival’s committee members, volunteers, vendors, partners, sponsors and attendees — to make it happen.
“It has been a concerted effort by all,” she said.
The 2016 Salmon Festival is scheduled for Sept. 16-18.
The award was presented earlier this week to Salmon Festival organizers during the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Lansing.
The honor is an initiative of the Resources and Environment Implementation Committee of the 2012-17 Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan, whose goal is for the state to “be internationally recognized for our stewardship of — and rich opportunities to experience — our natural, cultural and heritage resources.”
The Salmon Festival was selected based on its strong commitment to minimizing its impact on the environment. The festival is the only zero-waste-to-landfill event in the state. In 2015, 96 percent of the festival's waste was composted or recycled, and the remaining 40 pounds of trash was processed in a waste-to-energy incinerator.
“Being the first festival in Michigan to be zero-waste-to-landfill with third-party certification is what sets us apart,” Cisneros said. “Our journey to sustainability was born out of the idea that we believed we had accomplished a successful event, by most standards, yet there was an aspect of trash that needed to be addressed.”
Upon giving it more thought, Cisneros said the festival’s organizers realized they wanted to set the bar higher.
“We wanted to be zero-waste-to-landfill. We reached that goal three years ago, and have been successful in maintaining it ever since,” she said.
Cisneros encourages other festival and events in the Grand Haven area and across the state to implement similar practices of reducing, reusing, composting and recycling.
“My biggest point in all this is — once committed, it’s not as hard or costly as you might think,” she said. “We are happy to help others get started on their journey to sustainability and hope that the model we have created can be adapted to be used by others as a way to become better stewards of the environment in which they live.”
Four other sites were recognized for their sustainability efforts: Chateau Chantal for its installation of a 148.5-kilowatt solar array, the City of Frankenmuth for its construction of a fish passage at the Cass River Dam, Great Lakes Endurance for its organization of minimal-impact silent sports events, and the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission for its efforts to restore the quality of White and Muskegon lakes.