Green Scene: Green Up Denver

Who in Denver doesn’t love a free outdoor festival, especially if it has a green twist?

Four of Denver’s top outdoor festivals have come together to create Green Up Denver to recruit the largest green volunteer group in their collective histories.

Seeded with a $20,000 donation from Whole Foods Market, Green Up Denver is a local collaborator project supporting festivals with their green initiatives. They are working to secure 1,000 volunteers to help sort recycling, trash and compost at Capitol Hill People’s Fair, Denver PRIDEFest, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, and the Denver County Fair.

Each year these events generate 57 tons of landfill and Green Up Denver’s main goal is to divert 20 to 40 percent of this waste into recycling and compost. Volunteers will also provide support to environmentally minded vendors to drive cardboard box and ice bag recycling and to promote the use of eco-friendly paper ware and cups.

“The spirit of collaboration and generosity across the four festivals has been astounding and inspiring,” says Heather Larrabee of Whole Foods Market. “We really need to the community to rally behind these amazing events and come out in droves to volunteer. Even two or three hours will make a huge difference and will help us be much more successful in keeping out recycling and compost streams uncontaminated.”

Green Misson representatives from Whole Foods Market have signed on to provide training to help people learn how to accurately sort waste and answer basic environmental questions in a series of free volunteer workshops hosted monthly by Green Up Denver.

The festivals are seeking a total of 1,000 volunteer houses for shifts of three hours or more this summer. Food, Green Up Denver sunglasses and other benefits will be provided.

The City and County of Denver’s Department of Environmental Health will rate vendor’s green performance at the festivals in a “LEEDs certification meets Best of Denver” award. Participating businesses can display the certifications at their booths and in their businesses over the next year.

Green Up Denver is also working with Green Print Denver to house design files, training, documents, signs and tool kits they have created for other festivals to have free access to use a base.

“Green Up Denver is creating all kinds of great tools for other events to use in the future and is leading the way in establishing green event models and practices for Denver celebrations,” says Kerri-Ann Appleton, the Capitol Hill People’s Fair Green Mission Coordinator.

The city of Denver has 600 trashcans that they allow festivals to use for free and Green Up Denver has designed custom signs to use on them to sort recyclable items, compost, and waste with pictures and instructions in both English and Spanish.

Courtesy of Green Up Denver

“We will work on the program annually to make it better and bridge more festivals into the project,” says Larrabee. “We will touch about 750,000 people with these four events and would love to expand further.”

Community art pieces inspired by Green Up Denver are also being created at each festival and some pieces will include recycled materials in anticipation of a celebration to mark the progress made in the fall.

“Each festival is committed to generating community art pieces with the Green Up Denver theme this summer,” says Tracey Weil, Marketing and community Director of Denver County Fair. “They will unveil the art at the Red Line Gallery on September 27 as a part of a community celebration we’re hosting to measure how we did.”

At the event they will announce how much waste they were able to divert and the proposed goals for 2013.

For more information and to volunteer please visit

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