Afternoon in the Country

Afternoon in the Country

On November 8 Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI) Atlanta Chapter’s prominent annual fundraiser Afternoon in the Country (AITC) was hosted at the Inn at Serenbe within the Serenbe community. The 2015 AITC was the 15th Anniversary event, perfect timing to embark on a zero-food-waste journey!

For pre-event planning leading up to AITC, along with annual-event challenges and Ei Team members, visit the Zero Food Waste Journeys page.

Establishing an excess-food-donation program was an action point from the Compostable Food & Beverage Packaging Education session. Ei Strategic Ally Second Helpings stepped to the plate as the excess-food-donation team member. Myron Smith with Second Helpings agreed to educate AITC attendees on the importance of food donation and collect the excess food for delivery to local shelters.

While a perfect scenario came together for RayDay: great, dry weather, paid Waste Ambassadors and one caterer, AITC was riddled with extraordinary challenges on event day. A rainy event day, coupled with prior ten-days straight of rain, greeted event organizers, participants, and guests with tremendous mud during set-up and throughout the event.

Of the 20 committed volunteers, only four showed up ready-to-work in the extreme conditions. And work they did! Cardboard waste | recycling-bins disintegrated into the mud. The farm tractor promised at 11:00 a.m. was finally delivered at 4:00 p.m. as the event closed. Note the tractor was necessary for the compost pile construction. … and there were 90+ chefs | restaurants participating at AITC! 

The SMAT – Sustainable Materials ACTION Team  – members rolled up their sleeves to pinch hit within the challenges and created success amidst abundant lessons learned.

Thanks to Let Us Compost (LUC), 1800 pounds of clean food waste was included in the on-farm compost pile. Throughout the day, LUC kept the volunteers efficient weighing food-waste bags as they arrived at the compost area, cleansing the food waste of contaminants, and sorting flatware for grinding. Ei Supporter Community Environmental Management was instrumental to building the compost pile.

There was approximately 90 pounds of contaminants delivered to the compost area within the food-waste bags. Most related to non-compostable food & beverage (F&B) serviceware brought to the event by the chefs and beverage companies.

Rainy, muddy conditions played a valuable role for showcasing lessons learned necessary to build a solid, effective zero-food-waste template for annual events. The majority of lessons learned relate to stronger communication ranging from waste | recycling signage to Waste Ambassador training to the event compostable F&B packaging policy.

Many of the restaurants were not aware of the compostable F&B packaging requirement; most were happy to switch once compostable packaging was delivered to their table. A handful of restaurants brought prepared condiments in plastic containers causing contamination in the food waste. Several beverage companies brought branded plastic cups while the liquor stations used plastic shot glasses.

Post-event there was a significant amount of food waste left on seating tables and restaurant stations sent to the landfill by the clean-up crew. At future events, the Waste Ambassadors can easily scour the event for the food waste sitting on tables before the clean-up crew breaks down the area.

Thanks to the two tents along with several lights in the compost area staging, the food-waste cleansing was effective in the rainy, muddy conditions. LUC brought a total of three tarps to AITC, versus one to RayDay; three tarps were necessary for efficiency in the rain and delayed compost pile creation.

The LUC crew was resourceful, creative and cheerful throughout the challenging process. … and the compost pile was complete before dark (barely)!

Stellar teamwork coupled with strong pre-planning brought impressive success amidst the profound challenges at the 2015 AITC.

The ZWA Blog article, Zero Waste Journeys: Successes, Challenges & Lessons Learned, recounts the AITC | RayDay journey while the Ei FB album, Afternoon in the Country, a zero food waste journey, is a pictorial recap.

In November 2016 Ei Partner NatureWorks published the Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success case study to showcase the 2015 Ei Zero Food Waste Journey at AITC. The ZWA Blog article, NatureWorks publishes zero food waste case studies, announces the case studies’ publication. Below is a downloadable version of the case study: 
Proven Steps Culminate Into Waste Reduction Success (2813 KB

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