The Winnipeg Folk Festival operates environmental sustainability programs at the annual summer Festival at Birds Hill Provincial Park, year round at the office and at events throughout the year. We consciously embrace environmentally responsible business practices and minimizing environmental impact remains a key organizational goal.
The Winnipeg Folk Fest was the first event in Canada to be certified by The Eco-Logo Program as an environmentally-friendly event. In fact, our festival was used as the model for Eco-Logo's high environmental standards for events. We have also received Fair Trade certification for our purchasing standards and in 2013 were awarded with A Greener Festival Award for our overall work in sustainability.
We carefully consider environmental impact when making decisions. Wherever possible, we adopt practices and use products that are more environmentally friendly. We make many changes to better our organization and festival each year and the are committed to utilizing best practices. We hope to continue to act as an example and lead in the field for similar events across Canada.
As a not-for-profit organization with limited resources, many of these programs have been undertaken at a cost. We find sponsors and funders to support our programs where possible, but feel that it’s important to invest in the most environmental practices we can, which is why we have implemented an eco fee as a part of your ticket purchase.
Below you can find information about each of our environmental initiatives – from plate return at the festival site to composting at the campgrounds, there are many things we do and are always aiming to do more. We thank you for your support in making this happen!
Our composting program has grown significantly over the years. What once started as a backyard composting initiative has become a huge part of our festival. We now use industrial composting services, allowing us to compost much more, including meat, bones and dairy. Compost bins can be found at each of our waste stations on site, backstage and at Enviro Headquarters in the Festival Campground. Beverages served in our taverns come in compostable cups. Each of our food vendors participate in our composting program as well by using only compostable plates, cutlery, napkins and packaging.
Bike Ride to Site
The Bike Ride to Site is an organized group bike ride from Winnipeg to the festival grounds in Birds Hill Park. This program started in 2010 and has grown to roughly 300 participants each year. It is a great alternative to driving out to the festival and a perfect way to lower carbon emissions caused by travel. A cargo van and volunteer bike riders accompany each group of riders into the park. We offer a 'park and bike' option and transport riders’ gear out to the festival site. Riders of all experience levels are welcome to participate.
Bus Services – Folk Fest Express/Campground Shuttle
We encourage attendees to leave their vehicles at home and utilize the Folk Fest Express. It is a free bus service we offer all attendees which runs to and from downtown Winnipeg and Birds Hill Park during festival hours.
For attendees already inside Birds Hill Park we offer a shuttle service that runs between both of our campgrounds and the festival site. This gives our campers the ability to get around the park without the need of their own vehicle for the duration of the Festival.
LOFT (local, organic, fair trade) Food Program
After signing the Manitoba Food Charter in 2008, we began our LOFT food program. We are committed to offering LOFT meals from our backstage kitchen as well as from our food vendors on site and in the campground. We encourage our vendors to offer LOFT menu items and choose to work with vendors who share a commitment to making sustainable food choices. In 2012, our organization was certified as a Fair Trade event by Fair Trade Manitoba.
Our plates program started in 1997 when we invested in 8,000 reusable plates. Since then, our plate inventory has grown to 19,000. We have been washing our plates at the festival site since 2011 – reducing the program’s carbon footprint by eliminating the need to haul plates into the city for washing. Because we wash on site, we can have our plates washed and redistributed to vendors without ever running out of clean ones.This means everyone can have each meal on a reusable plate! Each year we divert roughly 100,000 disposable plates from landfill, which is 55 trees every year!
We started our recycling initiative in 1989 and it has been growing ever since. Recycling bins can be found at each waste station at the festival and throughout the festival campground. We distribute recycling bags to campers on load-in day, and make them readily available for anyone to pick up during the festival. In the campground, our Enviro volunteers separate and bag empty beer cans for can return. Funds raised from can returns go right back into the campground improvements.
Bottled Water Free
In an effort to reduce our ecological footprint, bottled water has not been sold at the festival since 2014. Instead we encourage our attendees to bring their own reusable bottle and fill up at any of our taps, marked by tall blue flags, across the festival site and campground. By utilizing tap water we are eliminating the emissions that would be directly caused by the production and transport of plastic water bottles – and we are keeping tens of thousands of plastic bottles out of landfill each year.