Finally, we are all starting to gather. No doubt your calendar is filling up with weddings, graduations, galas, and plain old social gatherings with friends and families. And best yet, just around the corner is what was my kids’ annual favorite…yes, St. Mark’s May Fair.

A New Day at St. Mark’s May Fair

Thousands flock to the green in front of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Friday night and Saturday before Mother’s Day.  It’s a New Canaan tradition that started 73 years ago. After a two year hiatus, this year should be super charged. The crowds will be the same, i.e., abundant. The energy will teem with thankfulness. The food court however will be different.

Thanks to a partnership between St. Mark’s and Planet New Canaan, the May Fair’s food court will be ‘greener.’ If all goes well with the crowdfunding campaign currently underway (link here), Planet New Canaan, with a matching grant from Sustainable Connecticut, will fund the production of four sets of reusable food waste stations. Instead of dumping all the waste from the food court into one trash bin, food court patrons will be able to sort their waste into three well-marked sections: compostable food scraps; recyclable material; and trash. The food waste will be transported by Curbside Compost to an industrial composter in Connecticut, setting the stage for the food scraps to be become compost.

St. Mark’s is making a second sustainable change. All the food court’s plates, bowls, and cutlery will be compostable.

Together, on-site recycling of food waste and materials coupled with the elimination of single-use plastic in the popular food court is a step in the right direction for our town. 

Why Composting is Important

So why do we think this green precedent at St. Mark’s May Fair is important?

America has a trash problem. It’s an issue particularly troubling in Connecticut. Connecticut’s waste is reported to be 33% food waste and other organics – which is then dumped into landfills or burned in trash incinerators. Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Our incinerators are failing, and about 500,000 tons of trash is already trucked out of state. (Source).

One alternative is composting biodegradable material, i.e., food scraps, which turn it into valuable compost. Compost can be used as fertilizer on cropland, improving soil health and productivity. It can also help pull carbon out of the atmosphere. Composting hence offers a big win for the environment. It reduces our waste stream; increases carbon sequestration; and yields a valuable product. Gardeners in New Canaan, and around the country, know the value of compost in their gardens. Before we get too excited, remember that we have a long way to go. According to the EPA, only 4.1% of wasted food is composted.

Recyclables Need More Attention

It’s not only food waste that’s stressing our waste stream. Another 40% of CT’s waste is made up of paper, plastic, glass, and metal. (Source) The May Fair’s advancement of offering only compostable plates and cutlery starts to address the trash challenges that we face.

Setting a Sustainable Example

May Fair’s green innovations are hopefully the first of more sustainable public events in New Canaan. If Planet New Canaan’s crowdfunding campaign is successful (see below for how you can contribute), the town will have a reusable set of food waste stations available for every public event held in town. Think of all those fundraisers and annual events hosted in New Canaan.  And, importantly, think of all those young people, our kids and grandkids, for whom we set an example. We can now model responsible sustainable behavior showing that we care about the future of our planet – and their planet.

May Fair Waste Program Overview

I hope you will now understand the value of the May Fair Waste Program. Our goal is to raise $1,000 from 20+ individual donors by the deadline of May 1st, 2022, which will be matched by a matching grant of $1,000 from Sustainable CT’s Community Match Fund. With these funds, four sets of food stations will be created with separate sections to collect compostable food waste, recyclable material, and trash. The four stations and the transportation of the food scraps collected at May Fair by Curbside Compost will make the May Fair more sustainable. In addition, the new food stations will be available for other town events in the future.

May Fair Waste Program: How You Can Contribute

This will be the third time that Planet New Canaan has led a crowdfunding campaign with Sustainable CT’s Community Matching Fund, an innovative funding resource for public, community-led sustainability projects. To donate to May Fair Waste Program, click here.

Volunteer with Planet New Canaan at the May Fair

Planet New Canaan is recruiting volunteers who will be on site at May Fair’s food court to provide direction to food court patrons about which items can go into the different stations. By highlighting the importance of sustainable practices at the food court, Planet New Canaan and St. Mark’s hope to inspire residents to start food scrap recycling and using compostable materials at their own homes. To volunteer on Saturday, May 7th just email us [email protected].

Also think about composting at home, either in your backyard, or by taking advantage of the town’s Food Recycling program at the Transfer Station, or hiring Curbside Compost.  We all need to do our part. Find out more about your home composting options here.