The Newport Oyster & Chowder Festival at Bowen's Wharf. Photo provided by Bowen's Wharf Company

Bowen’s Wharf Company and Clean Ocean Access on Wednesday announced that they have launched an event sustainability partnership in an effort to reduce the landfill impact of two major food festivals in 2022, starting with the Newport Oyster & Chowder Festival on May 21st and 22nd, and are looking for volunteers to be a part of it.

The organizations will work together with the shared objective to bring sustainable approaches to these annual community events (Bowen’s Wharf also hosts their annual Seafood Festival in the fall) with a focus on waste diversion and public engagement through composting, in support of Clean Ocean Access’s Healthy Soils Healthy Seas RI multi-year initiative, according to Bowen’s Wharf.

Bowen’s Wharf says that the goal of the project is to improve and protect ocean health by educating the public about the benefits of residential and commercial composting in Newport County. By bringing together existing local composting efforts into a sustainable model and integrated operations, Clean Ocean Access hopes to demonstrate the effectiveness, efficiency, and strategic benefit of diverting food scraps from the waste stream and increasing awareness of the connectivity of healthy soils and healthy seas.

“The ultimate goal is to empower our community to make more environmentally responsible behaviors, so it is important that people see these positive and impactful changes in all aspects of their lives, including at events,” said Eva Touhey, COA Program Manager of the Healthy Soils Healthy Seas RI initiative in a statement. “Bowen’s Wharf is setting the standard for what is possible and to be expected at food festivals here in Newport and together we’ll make this sustainability effort seamless for vendors and attendees.”

The Nature Conservancy will also join in the effort, providing collection bins for used oyster shells that will eventually be recycled and help restore reefs and fish habitat throughout the state. “By separating and collecting oyster shells at the festival, we’re not only diverting waste from the landfill, but we’re also restoring habitat along the Rhode Island coastline for juvenile tautog, flounder and black sea bass. TNC’s partnership with Bowen’s Wharf allows us to engage new audiences in our work to move toward larger scale habitat improvement projects,” noted Tim Mooney, Marketing Communications Manager of the organization’s Rhode Island Chapter.

Multi-bin waste stations will be introduced, with separate receptacles for composting, recycling, landfill and oyster shells. Green Team volunteers will assist event-goers with sorting material at these stations to reduce contamination and educate them about the importance of composting and shell recycling. Waste removal and management on site will be handled by The Compost Plant and Island Rubbish.

Bowen’s Wharf Company has recognized that food-based events such as the Oyster & Chowder Festival and Seafood Festival provide significant outreach potential to share these messages and turn them into quantifiable action with residents and visitors alike. Together with their partners, the hope is to lessen the overall landfill impact and establish new waste diversion goals in the future.

“Sustainable practices have always been important to us, but we’re thrilled to be able to partner with Clean Ocean Access to make it a priority this year,” said Bart Dunbar, President of Bowen’s Wharf Company in a statement. “We’re committed to continuing these efforts for both of our festivals going forward, engaging with our sponsors, vendors and members of the public to spread the word about the weight of these initiatives and the impact they have on the environment.”

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Green Team at the event can register online here: https://www.cleanoceanaccess.org/action/volunteer/

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.

He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

He is a member of Local Independent Online News Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.