Niskayuna Community Action Program looks to reduce waste at Niska Day

The Niska Day Parade approaches Regent and Nott streets in Niskayuna on May 19, 2018.

The Niska Day Parade approaches Regent and Nott streets in Niskayuna on May 19, 2018.

Niska Day is going zero waste, as part of a community effort to lower the carbon footprint.

The Niskayuna Community Action Program, the organization that puts on Niska Day, has partnered with FoodScraps360, a Capital Region company that deals in food waste collection and educating on the environment, to provide bins at the festival to gather food scraps to be composted. 

“This was part of the town of Niskayuna’s Climate Smart Communities Task Force initiative,” said Michael Corcoran, chairman of the event. “We would like to expand on this and get Niska Day to a 100% zero waste event. We are looking to use this as an opportunity to educate the community on what it means to be zero waste.”

Climate Smart Communities is a state program helping municipalities take actions to lower greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change, according to the state webpage on the program. There are 343 registered climate smart communities across the state. 

The town implements various activities, which earn them points, leading to status symbols of bronze, silver or gold distinction as a Climate Smart Community.

“The points are a little silly, but the goal is to lower those greenhouse gas emission numbers, composting does that,” said Portia Zwicker, a member of the town Climate Smart Communities Task Force. 

Zwicker, who did social media for FoodScraps360 and volunteered in some of their other events, helped come up with the idea to turn Niska Day into a zero-waste event. 

She said she and other volunteers will help man two stations at Niska Day with bins from FoodScraps360. 

“The stations are simply a set of three bins, one for food waste, one for garbage, one for recycling,” she said.

She said volunteers will also verbally educate people on why FoodScraps360 is there and what it’s about, as well as ensure people are putting items into the correct bins. 

After the event is over Diana Wright, the operations manager with FoodScraps360 will collect their bins. 

Wright said from there those bins are taken to the Bethlehem Compost Facility where the scraps are turned into compost, bagged and then sold to people. 

Wright said she hopes that having representatives from Foodscraps360 at the event and educating people will help dispel some of the misconceptions of composting. One of the biggest misconceptions is that plastic items that say they can be composted actually shouldn’t be. Instead, she said they should go into the garbage because facilities are set up to compost those materials quickly and they aren’t regulating meaning there’s no assurance that those products don’t contain toxins.

Zwicker said she hopes this event works out and that there will be the potential to have FoodScraps360 at other town events in the future. 

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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