Ask Eartha: Composting is the craze

Eartha Steward
Special to the Daily Volunteers are critical in helping folks determine what goes where in the waste stream at the Frisco BBQ Challenge.

This weekend is Frisco’s 19th Annual BBQ Challenge, and the Town of Frisco has required that each of the 60 vendors serves it up on only compostable or recyclable materials. The town and High Country Conservation Center are committed to making the BBQ a zero-waste event. Last year the Frisco BBQ Challenge diverted 72 percent of the waste of nearly 30,000 people!

The BBQ will have zero-waste tents and clearstream containers for sorting the refuge. The tents have three spots to deposit compost, recyclables and garbage. Aluminum cans, aluminumfoil, and #1 and #2 plastic bottles will be recycled. Food, plant and paper waste will be composted. Even specially marked “compostable” cups and cutlery that disguise themselves as plastic are actually made of corn and can be composted as well. Volunteers will be stationed at most of the tents to help the public determine if their waste if compostable or recyclable.

Since the compost produced at the events is sent to the Summit County Compost Facility and turned into commercial compost for the community, even dairy and meat products can be added to the mix. Of course, meat is not recommended for backyard systems, especially with our neighboring wildlife. The only garbage remaining from the event might be styrofoam, #3-#7 plastic containers, plastic bags and Saran wrap – but, we’ve outlawed these products for the most part from the Frisco BBQ!

Volunteers are always needed to help direct guests as to which bin is appropriate for different materials. As the gatekeepers of garbage, every volunteer receives a brief orientation. If you are interested in participating, you can still sign up to volunteer at the BBQ and other events through On top of receiving some really great karma, BBQ zero-waste volunteers will also receive a free T-shirt and 10 hog back bucks.

It is critical to control the quality of the compost. describes the damage caused by micro plastic particles. These particles are detrimental to organisms in a variety of ecosystems and often sneak into compost through plastic-coated paper products (i.e. plates, cups, and food containers). The website includes a list of environmentally conscientious companies who have pledged to keep plastic out of their compost.

Corn and sugar-based plates, bowls, cups and cutlery are now conveniently available at most grocery and big box stores, online or even more locally at the local High Country Conservation Center. HC3 also rents out the clearstream containers and provides bags and signage. This makes sorting waste simple for the guests at your next shindig (birthday party, office event, or wedding).

When you consider the total sum of excess waste generated from every community event or backyard bash this summer, it is empowering to think about the difference recycling and composting can make. Plants love the nutrient-rich compost. You will also be supporting sustainable and local agriculture. In addition, composting assists in decreasing the amount of methane produced from the landfill. To summarize, composting equals cultivation and climate control.

Consider making your next event zero-waste and find out how from the experts – contact the High Country Conservation Center for more info.

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at

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