2022 Bonfyre Trail Fest Sustainability Report

What’s a “bonfire” event without fire? Still a good time, as it turns out.

The Bonfyre Trail Fest this year took place as scheduled, but due to high winds fires were not allowed, nor could the Green Team put up a canopy to protect us from the expected rain. Fortunately the rain was brief and the day was warm enough that fires weren’t missed very much.

The event takes place on the DTE Foundation trails and benefits the Washtenaw County Border-to-Border Trail, part of which runs north from Chelsea to the trailhead, The mountain bikers graciously yield their dirt to 800 runners frolicking through the woods for 5(ish), 10(ish), and 18(ish) miles. Afterwards, there’s beer, live music, food trucks, and fires to sit at and make s’mores.

Grace and I set up a Zero Waste station near the beer tent (one of the few tents put up that day). Near the exit we placed a 96-gallon cart to collect empty beer cans and bottles (watched over by the exit area volunteer), and some All Waste boxes that we swapped out periodically. We also set out a “Free Stuff” box with discarded sweatshirts and such, and it got a surprising amount of attention for a warmer day.

Staffer Grace and volunteer Sarah at the station. Note the shorter sign, which still didn’t hold up against those wind gusts.
Second station near the exit, mainly to collect beer bottles and cans, but got other stuff too.

The food trucks were perennial favorites Simply Spanish and My Little Honey Pot, both of which use compostables, making life much easier for the Green Team. In place of the bonfires a propane heater was set up, allowing those who wanted to toast marshmallows.

The biggest contributor to event waste was cardboard boxes for the beanies, snack bags, and finisher mugs. It completely filled our 5×8 trailer. Western Washtenaw Recycling Authority was just down the road, so at takedown volunteer Sarah and I went there to drop it off while Grace broke down the station.

Busy day at the finish line, but they still helped us out a lot!

The biggest challenge was the wind, gusty throughout the day, knocking down even my shorter-height station sign with extra weights. Eventually I gave up, as we were visible enough.

Many thanks to Grace and Sarah for their cheerful hard work, to the finish line crew for stacking cardboard and bringing it to us, the exit volunteers for watching the second station, and all the runners who thanked us for what we’re doing. Check out the snapshot report below for a result worth dancing about!

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