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.
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 participates in our composting program as well by using only compostable plates, cutlery, napkins and packaging. In 2016, for the first time, the total amount of compost accumulated at the Festival out-weighed landfill waste.
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 roughly 200 – 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.
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, transport, and disposal of tens of thousands of plastic water bottles each year.
Food Initiatives – LOFT(Local, Organic, Fair Trade) and Vegetarian Friday
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.
To further our commitment to sustainable food choices and low impact food options we implemented “Vegetarian Friday” at the 2016 Festival. All meals provided in our backstage kitchen on the Friday of the Festival were vegetarian. The initiative was well received and will continue in 2017.
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.
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.