Recycle on the Go Success Story
Woody Guthrie  Folk  Festival  Strikes
a  Chord  with  Recycling
Since 1997, the nonprofit Woody Guthrie Coalition has sponsored an annual festival to celebrate the life and
musical legacy of Woody Guthrie, one of America's great folk music songwriters and troubadours. Held in the
singer's hometown of Okemah, Oklahoma, the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival features five days of live music, poetry,
lectures, and films. And, since 2004, event goers have helped the festival recycle more than 31,600 pounds of waste.
                     Program Overview
                     Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) was an
                     American singer-songwriter and folk
                     musician whose legacy includes hundreds
                     of political, traditional, and children's
                     songs, including the popular tune "This
                     Land Is Your Land." Guthrie traveled
                     with migrant workers from Oklahoma to
                     California during the 1930s and 1940s and
                     learned traditional folk and blues songs.
                     Many of his songs are about his experiences
                     in the Dust Bowl era during the Great
                     Depression, earning him the nickname
                     Dust Bowl Troubadour.
  More than 40,000 visitors
  attend the festival annually.

  Volunteers are the backbone
  of the recycling operation.

  35 people volunteered
  to collect and sort
  recyclables in 2009.

  The festival recycled a total
  4,556 pounds in 2009.

  From 2004 to 2009,
  the festival recycled
  more than 31,600
  pounds of materials.
                                                                        This statue of Woody Guthrie
                                                                        welcomes visitors to Memorial
                                                                        Park in Okemah, OK, which
                                                                        hosts an annual festival
                                                                        honoring the folk singer.
The Woody Guthrie Coalition, dedicated
to preserving the singer's legacy and music,
launched the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival in
the singer's hometown of Okemah in 1997. This unique
festival is free to the public and is supported largely
through volunteer efforts—even the musicians volunteer
their time. Today, the festival draws nearly 40,000 visitors and music fans each July for
several days of activities, concerts, and family fun.

Located 70 miles east of Oklahoma City, Okemah sees its population more than double
during the festival, which results in a tremendous increase in the amount of waste the city
has to manage. Early on, performers and attendees asked festival organizers to provide
                                   facilities for recycling during the event. In
                                   2004, the organizers turned to the Oklahoma
                                   Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
                                   for help. The department is responsible for
                                   managing waste and recycling for the state
                                   and has been a strong supporter of the U.S.
                                   Environmental Protection Agency's Resource
                                   Conservation Challenge, a national effort
                                   to conserve natural resources and energy by
                                   managing materials more efficiently.
                                                           U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY Recycle on the Go

 DEQ stepped in providing recycling bins, plastic bags, gloves, and
 department pickup trucks for transporting the recyclables. Plus,
 the department mobilized its staff, their families, and friends
 to volunteer onsite at the festival, providing manpower to
 collect, sort, and haul the materials to the appropriate recycling
 vendors. The Metropolitan Environmental Trust, the agency
 that coordinates recycling in the Tulsa region, lends a hand with
 additional recycling bins and a trailer that makes it easier to haul
 large loads of recyclables, reducing the number of trips needed.

 Nuts and Bolts
 The recycling program—like the festival itself—relies on
 volunteers rolling up their sleeves and working together
 to collect recyclables generated during the event. Town
 residents and visitors join the DEQ staff to collect and sort
 aluminum cans, cardboard, and glass and plastic bottles.
                                                                        Glass bottles are separated and loaded into a
                                                                        trailer to be taken to a nearby town for recyclin
 During the festival, about 50 recycling bins are placed in various locations throughout Okemah, including the
 campgrounds, the children's playground, the Crystal Theatre, the Pastures of Plenty Amphitheater, and the
 Grape Ranch winery. Several times a day, the volunteers circulate throughout the area to empty each bin and
 load the materials onto the trucks. They truck each day's collection to a staging area at the local wastewater
 treatment plant, where the volunteers separate out any trash and ensure that the recyclables are  sorted by
 material for delivery to their final destinations when the festival is over.

 In between recycling runs, the volunteers  drive the trucks through the alleys behind the venues
                                           collecting cardboard from the local businesses and even
                                           dig through dumpsters to find additional recyclables.
                                           "The volunteers are not afraid to get dirty, dive through
                                           dumpsters, pick through trash cans, and work in all types of
                                           extreme weather conditions," says Melissa Adler-McKibben,
                                           an environmental programs specialist with the DEQ Land
                                           Protection Division. "July weather conditions in Oklahoma
                                           can range from sunny  with
                                           temperatures  reaching well
                                           over 100° Fahrenheit to rainy
DEQ pickups are loaded daily
with recyclables to take to their
intended destinations.
                             and ankle-deep mud. But veteran volunteers
                             expect to have a fun time, listen to great
                             music, meet new friends, and contribute to a
cleaner Oklahoma." As Guthrie says in "All Work Together," one of his classic  £
songs, "If we all work together, well, it shouldn't take long."
Starting in 2009, DEQ began collecting each material in a separate
bin, placing groupings of three bins together, each labeled with text
and graphics indicating which materials it collected. Trash cans were
placed near each grouping, giving festival attendees a clear choice for
disposing of wastes properly. "The source separating worked very well," Adler-McKibben says.
                                                                         A volunteer is "dumpster diving"
                                                                         to cull a few additional recyclables
                                                                         from the trash.

Costs and Benefits
"Special events offer significant recycling
opportunities," says Fenton Rood, DEQ's director
of Waste Systems Planning. 'At the Woody Guthrie
Folk Festival, I believe we recycle about half the
waste generated."

With volunteer labor and DEQ staff members
delivering the materials to the recycling vendors,
the costs for the program are minimal, but include
gas and plastic bags. Any revenue generated from
the recyclables—about $90 in 2009—is reinvested
in the next year's event.

In 2009, the festival recycled a total of 4,556
pounds of materials, including 2,700 pounds of
glass, 1,500 pounds of cardboard, 236 pounds of
aluminum, and 120 pounds of plastic. Because
Okemah hauls trash to a distant landfill, recycling
can result in cost savings for the community.
The town saved  about $100 to $150 in 2009 from avoided landfill costs, not to mention
environmental fees and fuel costs. Recycling at the festival also preserves an average of two
tons of landfill space per year. Plus, rather than dumping these materials in a landfill, recycling
conserves natural resources and energy, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
                                                 10,000 i
Between 2004 and 2009, DEQ and festival goers recycled a combined total of 31,657 pounds
of materials. "The benefits definitely outweigh the costs when you look at the tonnage,"
Adler-McKibben says.

Challenges  and  Solutions
Challenge:  In previous years, DEQ found that, especially toward the
            end of the day and end of the festival, festival patrons were
            throwing trash in with the recyclables.

Solution:   In 2008, DEQ purchased new bins with lids that have holes
            sized for cans and bottles, which provided another level of
            encouragement to help attendees choose the right bin and
            minimize contamination (mixing of trash with recyclables).

Challenge:  Volunteers typically line the recycling bins with plastic bags to
            make it easier to empty the bins. However, when it rains,
            the bags fill up with water, making them heavy and messy to work
            with. Also, on windy days, before any recyclables have been placed
            in the bins, gusts of wind can sometimes blow the bags out of the bins.

Solution:   On sunny days, the volunteers use the plastic bags and  place rocks,
            borrowed from the wastewater treatment plant, in the bins to hold the bags
            in place. For rainy days, the volunteers skip using the plastic bags altogether,
            avoiding the water-collecting issue.
Woody Guthrie Recycling Data
                                                          2004  2005 2006  2007  2008  2009

                               In  the Future
                               According to Adler-McKibben, 2009 proved a record year for volunteer
                               participation, with 35 people lending a hand, many turning up for multiple
                               shifts throughout the duration of the festival. Many are repeat volunteers from
                               year to year. In addition to soliciting help through the department's intranet
                               site, DEQ plans to advertise in the local paper next year to drum up even
                               more volunteers.

                               Her advice to other would-be event coordinators: "Think about the waste that
                               will be generated, identify your markets, recruit partners, and always remember to
                               tap  into your local and state governments for recycling assistance and information,"
                               Adler-McKibben says. "We learn from past recycling events and continue to
                               improve upon our strategies each consecutive year. You just have to jump in
                               and do it!"

                               Building on the successes with the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, DEQ is working
                               with other event organizers to promote and expand recycling at events statewide,
                               including the annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (voted one of the top
                               races in the country), ScienceFest Oklahoma, and the REDMAN Triathlon. DEQ
                               is demonstrating that event recycling is
                               good for attendees and the community.
                               As Guthrie sang, "This Train Is Bound
                               for Glory."

                               More Information
                               For more information, visit www.
                      or contact
                               Melissa Adler-McKibben at (405)
                               702-5218 or
United States
Environmental Protection

Office of Resource Conservation
and Recovery (5306P)
November 2009
                            ') Recycled/Recyclable - Printed with Vegetable Oil Based Inks on 100% Postconsumer,
                             Process Chlorine Free Recycled Paper
EPA is partnering with
other Federal agencies,
states, municipalities, and
organizations to promote
recycling away from home,