Trash is not welcome at the Tea Party so please don’t bring any, remind organizers.
Each year of the annual event (pandemic aside) trash sorters ensure items tossed in the various bins set out at the Oak Bay park venue wind up in the right place.
“Every square inch of Tea Party waste goes through our fingers. It’s the dirtiest job of the entire weekend but it’s the most satisfying,” lead Noreen Taylor previously told Black Press Media.
The Tea Party aims to be as easy on the environment as possible. Balloons became taboo in 2018 and food vendors commit to using only compostable take-out options.
A group of volunteers, the Tea Party trash gang, hand-sorts at the end of the weekend and has diverted thousands upon thousands of tons of weekend waste from the landfill. Taylor has a goal of making it a zero-waste event.
In 2017 hand-sorting saved 3,740 pounds from heading to the landfill. The weekend came out to about 16 bags of hard plastic, 14 bags of soft plastic and 9.5 totes of garbage.
In 2018 the equivalent of three household bins of trash hit the landfill and much of it wasn’t event trash, just too dirty to be recycled. That year the event crated 2,400 pounds of compost.
By 2019, the last time the Oak Bay Tea Party was held, the team managed to divert 95 per cent from the landfills – 80 per cent to compost and 15 per cent recycled. She takes it as a challenge to try to bring that five per cent down to zero.
That requires both ongoing commitments from both the vendors, who she checks in on, and that visitors don’t bring trash to the site. The annual Oak Bay Tea Party returns to Willows Beach Park June 3 to 5.