Sights and Sounds achieves zero-waste status


Courtesy of the City of San Marcos.

Recycling stations at San Marcos' Sights and Sounds.

Sierra Martin, Senior News Reporter

The Sights and Sounds Christmas Festival achieved a zero-waste status for the first time in its 33-year history in San Marcos.

The event took place in the first and second weeks of December of 2019 and accomplished the zero-waste status by having 10% or less of waste sent to a landfill.

Sights and Sounds Chair Tommy Curtis said the years of collective effort that has lead up to this achievement.

“We began working toward this goal three years ago and are so excited about achieving a zero-waste event this year,” Curtis said. “I’m proud of our team and the community for setting an example for environmental stewardship.”

According to the press release, last year 83% of event waste was diverted from the landfill and the event was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Green Business Award. This year 92.4%, or 19,460 out of 21,060 total pounds of waste was recycled or composted.

Graphic showing Sights and Sounds waste management
Courtesy of the City of San Marcos.
Graph showing weights of byproduct produced by Sights and Sounds over the last four years.

Out of the total waste accumulated by the Christmas festival, 16,360 pounds were composted, 3,100 pounds were recycled and 1,600 pounds were taken to the landfill.

The rules introduced by Sights and Sounds required vendors and others contributing to the event to work with reusable or compostable materials whenever possible in order to minimize waste. Additionally, the board and city staff installed eco-stations which provided recycling and composting containers to give attendees access to green waste receptacle alternatives.

Amy Kirwin, community enhancement initiatives manager for San Marcos, highlighted the effort it took by volunteers and vendors to ensure obtaining an eco-friendly festival. Hundreds of volunteers directed attendees on how to sort waste into the proper receptacles.

“Food vendors must use all compostable material,” Kirwin said. “Even a plastic condiment container with food on it would have to go into the landfill due to contamination. The petting zoo and Bethlehem use compostable bags for the hay and animal manure to be composted. The craft vendors separate their waste and most of it is recycled.”

Throughout its time in San Marcos, Sights and Sounds has won the Chamber Green Business award once and the Keep Texas Beautiful Award once.

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