Name: Emily Claire Mackey
Project: Sustainability Initiatives at the 2016 Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival
School: Wake Forest University
Minor: Environmental Science, Global Trade and Commerce Studies
I have had the pleasure of coordinating the sustainability initiatives for the greenest event on the National Mall—the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival! The Festival, this year highlighted musicians, dancers, artisans, craftsmen, chefs, linguists, athletes, storytellers, and boat makers from Basque: Innovation by Culture and Sounds of California. My project entailed working with waste contractors, food vendors, volunteer staff, stage managers, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH) staff, and Festival visitors in order to create a system for recycling, composting and landfill of all Folklife Festival waste. In this mission of transparency and joint responsibility of waste disposal, the festival empowered all who were involved to think beyond the bin – cultivating a more sustainable mindset that extends beyond the National Mall and the Festival itself. Our visitor engagement and back-of-house policy enabled the Festival to reach a landfill diversion rate of 96.88% – an astounding number on its own but also an improvement from the 93% the Festival has achieved for the past two years.
In conjunction to that mission, I have also applied my time to expanding the role of the Sustainability Intern—specifically in the area of visitor engagement—through interactive educational pieces and exploration of topics beyond that of waste. I have also begun compiling a master sourcing and end-destination guide of supplies used in planning, creation, support, and take-down of the Festival. My hope for this master list is that it will be inclusive and flexible enough to serve as a useful resource for all Festivals to come, increasing our landfill diversion rates by cutting out landfill products from all back-of-house Festival operations.