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When the regatta party goes green

Published on July 30th, 2018

With the push for clean regattas, sailors are more commonly using reusable water bottles and otherwise reducing the amount of trash their boat produces. However, typically all of that is forgotten when they come off the docks for the regatta party.

The biggest culprit at these regatta parties are the single use plastic cups that occasionally make it into the recycling bin – but more often end up in the trash. So when sailors at the 2018 Ugotta Regatta in Harbor Springs, Michigan gathered at the Irish Boat Shop for the after party, they found how responsibility can extend on land too.

With nearly 80 boats ranging from J/70s to Great Lake 70 footers, critical to the solution was how an Irish branded 16-ounce reusable stadium cup was issued to each party goer at the entrance. They were told this was their only cup, and they would not be receiving a second cup.

Actually, bartenders had a back-up supply of single use plastic cups at the beer, wine, and non-alcoholic stations, but were instructed to keep them out of sight and offer a “Cup of Shame” only if someone truly needed one. Nothing like a little good-natured ribbing to make a sailor pay attention.

Irish stationed recycling bins and food compost bins around the party marked with easy-to-spot green balloons. There were Irish Party Patrol employees stationed near the bins to answer questions and direct the recycling into the correct bin.

Since no system is perfect, especially the first time, the patrol also did some sorting during the party to ensure the misuse of bins didn’t become a major issue. There was only one trash can and it was stationed directly in front of the band stage, so if anyone really wanted to throw something away, they had to do so in front of all their peers.

All of the food prep materials were recyclable, except the plastic bags that the chips came in. There were no plates used, just brats and hot dogs handed out in 100% recycled napkins, which could be thrown into the food compost bins. No straws were used, and there were no plastic water bottles available – just a cold, filtered water station.

The result of all of this was one 30-gallon trash bag that was barely a quarter full after the 3-hour party plus set up and clean up. Yes, just one bag of trash for 1,000 sailors.

Irish kept the recycling fun by creating a mascot that was worn on the Party Patrol t-shirts and used in an email to the regatta sailors. The email started with, “Meet Abandinus, a lesser known Celtic deity, the Defender of the Waters. He is the adorably ferocious defender of Irish Boat Shop’s Clean Marina during the Ugotta Regatta. Abandinus will help us reach our goal of only 1 bag of trash for 1,000 sailors during the Ugotta Party! Here’s how…”

A cutout of Abandinus also guarded the only trash can in a final bid to encourage sailors to stop and think if what they had was compostable or recyclable. The little deity was a huge hit and will show up at Irish Boat Shop again.

Irish coordinated with their local recycling center for use of the bins, and the Little Traverse Sailors for use of the water station. The reusable stadium cups were FDA compliant, BPA free, dishwasher safe, and made in the USA. With forethought and commitment to an action plan, Irish hosted a clean regatta party that set the precedence for regatta parties in the future.

Irish Boat Shop is a sales and full-service boat shop, including dockage and storage, with Michigan locations in Harbor Springs, Charlevoix, and Traverse City.

Source: Irish Boat Shop

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