GREEN CHEERS: Winefest Makes Changes

Renew Iowa
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Organizers are toasting the tenth year of the Des Moines Wine Festival. And, they say this year will be grander. Event Director Nikki Syverson says, “More wine and food than you can have in a whole night.”

People will taste hundreds of wines from around the world this week in Des Moines. The eight day event includes events like wine tastings and wine classes. Syverson says, “Finishing off with sips in the city and the grand tasting right here at Nollen Plaza and Capitol Square.”

But, organizers say they are raising a glass to more than just wine this year. Syverson says they expect about 5,000 people to attend all the events, which means thousands of glass bottles and piles of cardboard boxes. She says they’re trying to change the event’s carbon footprint this year.

Volunteer Jeffrey Pate says, “I saw a need last year.” Pate says he saw a need to start recycling as a Winefest volunteer. He says, “In volunteering for Winefest, taking tickets and trying to find a receptacle for all the 8 and a half by 11 pieces of paper that everybody brought in with their printed ticket on it.”

Pate started a green team this year.  The eight person committee came up with ways to lessen the event’s impact on the environment, starting with recycling bins. He says, “And helping patrons attending the event find those recycling stations and know what can go in the waste stream for the landfill and what can go into our recycling station.”

Organizers also ask you save your ticket on your smart phone, instead of printing it on paper. And, they’ll stamp your hand at the gate, so you don’t have to wear a wristband. Syverson says, “We have thousands of people coming in on Friday and Saturday nights. So, using a hand stamp, verses a band, that’s a lot of waste we don’t have to worry about.”

You’ll also notice new unbleached napkins and trays made of biodegradable bamboo. The new plates are made from a renewable resource, and Pate says it will save money. Pate says, “I believe they were about a dollar less a piece.”

Pate says that adds up to thousands of dollars for an organization that gives the extra money raised to Bravo Greater Des Moines. It supports arts and culture in the community. He says, “For a non-profit we actually had a chance to save them money with the green initiatives.”

The green team plans to start a composting program at the Winefest next year.

They’re still looking for volunteers to man the recycling stations this year. Check out for more information.

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