The Ithaca Farmers Market is a zero waste facility. Anything that is produced at market can be composted — from organic waste like apple cores to compostable tableware, cups, plates and bioplastic pie clam shells. The market uses Cayuga Compost, a local compost facility, to turn our organic waste using high temperatures and the actions of soil bacteria into a soil amendment product that is in turn sold to local landscapers, farmers, vineyards and homeowners, completing a local nutrient cycle.
In the spring of 2007, the Ithaca Farmers Market moved toward a greener and more sustainable Market at Steamboat Landing. With a generous grant from Tompkins County Solid Waste, we adopted a Zero Waste Program. This is a new way of looking at our waste stream. Nothing is viewed as “garbage” but, instead, seen as a valuable “resource” to be managed and reused. Our goal was to eliminate the large quantity of garbage generated during Market and, in the process, become a model for other organizations looking to minimize their impact on the environment.
We also encourage customers to bring their own reusable coffee mugs and containers to further reduce waste.
Dealing with Bag Waste
In 2008, in an effort to try to eliminate plastic shopping bags, we began providing low cost, reusable IFM shopping bags for customers. This enables many vendors to greatly reduce the number of bags that are passed out each day.
More recently, market vendors have switched to using compostable BioBags, instead of plastic t-shirt bags, which are fully compostable and are made with corn polymers. We also have given away hundreds of our reusable market tote bags to our customers to encourage bringing your own bags, and continue offering canvas tote bags at reasonable prices. We also offer mini plastic shopping carts that our customers can use while in the pavilion to hold their purchases.
We continue to be an area leader in leaving a small environmental footprint. We are always looking for new ways to improve, so drop us a line if you’ve got an idea!