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Event Service Organization Aims For Zero-Waste Future

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Zero-waste events--that’s the goal of one start-up organization in Morgantown. Green Earth Event Services was founded by Morgantown resident Garth Lindley in 2011. The organization provides recycling and composting services and Lindley says that while there's a learning curve among public they interact with,  he's surprised by the overall enthusiasm he receives wherever the organization sets up.

Fonder Garth Lindley says he grew increasingly frustrated at 5k and 10k race events with the amount of waste he say being carted off to landfills and it inspired him to take action.

“I thought, ‘Somebody ought to be doing something about that.’ And it turns out I was the person that needed to be doing something about that, ” Lindley says.

So he went to work. And he found great need. He says, overwhelmingly, wherever he goes, people are almost relieved to see the service.

“I kind of naively thought I was going to just help a few friends do four or five races and I’ve been really surprised by—especially this past year,” he says. “People are coming out of the wood work asking me for advice or to come to their event.”

So it began as a sort of hobby and has grown into a nonprofit waste-diversion service that recycles and composts to keep waste from events out of landfills. 

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Lindley at the composting station he set up at the recent Empty Bowls event in Morgantown. He says he hopes arranging for organizations like his becomes a regular part of event planning in the near future.

Lindley points to the recent 2,000-person event in Morgantown called Empty Bowls, a fundraiser for Mon County soup kitchens, as an example of successful waste intervention.

Green Earth Event Services was able to prevent more than 900 pounds of waste from being sent to a landfill. Specifically, the event generated 160 pounds of recycling, about 300 pounds of compost, and 440 pounds of pig slop that went to WVU Farms.

Lindley says he’s evolved the mission of the organization to now include how-to education component.  “I’d really like to teach a man to fish,” he says, “so next year with Empty Bowls, I’m going to work with somebody on the committee for Empty Bowls, teaching them how to do it, what the connection are, that kind of thing, and the third year, they do it.”

Lindley has high hopes for the future. Not only is he hoping that organizations like his will become a normal part of event planning, he’s hoping waste accountability in general will become less of an afterthought:

“Ultimately, ultimately I would like to see companies thinking about what they’re putting into the environment. We’re kind of dealing with it on the back end—if we could deal with it on the front end of what we’re putting into the environment we wouldn’t have to deal with it on the back end quite as much.”

Lindley is hosting his own race this year in Morgantown on Earth Day. He says it will be a 0-waste event.

“Everything can be either reused or recycled,” he says. From race numbers to banners and signage, Lindley says the Earth Day celebration will be designed to leave no trace.


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