Oak Bay Tea Party waste volunteer Lara Lauzon with a before-and-after example of a waste bin at the 2018 Tea Party at Willows Beach. The eight-person cleanup team will process every bin of waste to ensure 100 per cent of the compostable materials and recyclables are diverted from landfill. (Ron Carter photos)

Trash gang keep the Tea Party clean

Volunteers ensure 85 per cent of all materials used are compostable

For the love of the planet, Noreen Taylor and the Tea Party trash gang of eight volunteers have diverted thousands upon thousands of tons of Tea Party waste from landfills over the last six years.

And, with the help of Tea Party goers, they’re ready to do it again.

“We want to thank the public and the vendors for complying and making the effort to use compostable materials,” Taylor said.

READ MORE: Thousands visit Oak Bay during Tea Party, leave only three bins of trash

To make it happen, all the Tea Party vendors at Willows Beach serve their fares in compostable materials, Taylor said.

Before the weekend starts Taylor visits each vendor to audit their serving materials.

The group of volunteers wants to encourage people who are bringing packaged food to please pack out what they’re bringing or, in the spirit of the affair, purchase food at the venue.

“We usually get about 10 to a dozen bags of plastic. I would love it if people did not bring plastic in, because we have to dig it out.

“If food packaging is brought in during the Tea Party and then disposed of at Willlows, we have to sort it out from the compostables,” Taylor said. “We always know if someone’s brought in food from the outside when we find plastic or styrofoam in the receptacles.

READ MORE: Oak Bay Tea Party garbage sorters divert 3,000 pounds of trash from landfill

“Every square inch of Tea Party waste goes through our fingers,” Taylor said. “It’s the dirtiest job of the entire weekend but it’s the most satisfying.”

Over the past six years the group has fine tuned their approach to minimizing the output of Tea Party waste. From the start of the event volunteers will be there sorting at a giant bin. They’ll be there all weekend including at least half a day on Monday.

“We learn the habits of the people who come to the event,” Taylor said.

Trash goers will note there are two possible bins, a blue bin for bottles or cans and a compost bin.

“There is no garbage bin at the Tea Party, and we don’t sell garbage at the event, so please, don’t bring any.”

The numbers end up being about 85 per cent compost.

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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