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Music. Brews. Mountains. Trash.

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Photo Credit Rachel Lightener

Photo Credit Rachel Lightener

Bluegrass tunes rang through Squaw Valley on April 4-6 as the WinterWonderGrass festival took to Tahoe for a weekend of music. But as the good times unfolded during the festival, Waste Free Earth was busy keeping the venue pristine, sorting through trash and diverting waste behind the scenes. Amongst that team were some of Sierra Nevada College’s own students and alumni.

Waste Free Earth is alumna Marina McCoy’s sustainability business, founded upon her mission to properly divert and altogether minimize waste at festivals. An avid concert goer and plastic-free advocate, she took her two passions and created her business to make festivals more sustainable. Starting o as a volunteer for WinterWonderGrass, McCoy has now become a valuable crew member for four years. McCoy wanted to share her valuable experience working

at festivals with students, and with the help of interdisciplinary studies program chair Katie Zanto, professor Nick Babin, and the interdisciplinary studies program, created a for-credit class for students to learn while working for Waste Free Earth.

“Being a part of a hands-on experience like WWG is so beneficial,” said McCoy. “It lets students be a part of the whole festival production and lets them get stoked on the music industry all while help- ing make it a more sustainable event.”

McCoy’s goal for Waste Free Earth is to not only properly divert waste, but to minimize it overall. She has achieved making WWG a waste-free event, with all vendors using compostable products, giving attendees reusable cups, and educating everyone about the impacts of trash.

Sustainability major McKenna Bean loves music festivals, and took the class to be a part of making them as sustainable as possible.

“I’ve been to so many concerts and festivals that have trash all over the ground, but at WWG I’ve seen how clean it is and it amazes me,” said Bean. “To take away that we’re doing something fun but making sure we’re sustainable and clean is the best feeling.”

Along with current SNC students taking the class, several alumni are now employed by Waste Free Earth. Alumni Jake Brayton has been working with WFE for three years now, and says the education he receives and shares with others is imperative.

“Partying and going to events like this is fun, but you also have to understand the impact that having fun can take and where everything ends up,” said Brayton. “All of the volunteers spreading the word to the attendees and sharing that education is important. Volunteering at events in general gives you more of an inside perspective of how the operation works.”
McCoy agrees that education is the most important part of her job.

“We are reaching thousands of people here at the festival, so if you can inspire them in any way possible to be more sustainable, whether it be to use a reusable water bottle or not purchase things wrapped in plastic, they are making a difference.”

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Music. Brews. Mountains. Trash.