Tomato Festival Sustainability Efforts Revisited

We know it’s been a little over a month now, but it’s worth recapping the 17th Annual Kendall-Jackson Tomato Festival! The festival featured some of the best food offered in Sonoma County paired with K-J wines. There were many great features to be seen, including seminars, music, and chef challenges with guest chefs and judges. However, there was a surprising guest that stole the show. No, it wasn’t Julien and I as the sustainability team.

Instead, it was K-J’s overall efforts to incorporate sustainability throughout the entire event that was quite impressive.

Upon entering the festival, guests received a reusable bag they could use at the event and take home afterwards. Although plastic bags are being banned or taxed in many different places, they have had a great impact in landfills as well as natural terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Nearly 3 billion plastic bags are used daily in China alone. Plastic bags are reusable by design, but most end up in landfills where they will take nearly 1,000 years to break down.* Reusable bags already exist in the form of purses, backpacks, and computer bags. It is just a matter of choice whether to use them. The KJ reusable bags were very helpful to guests in carrying items picked up from the festival, and hopefully their beautiful design will inspire its new owner to use it every day.

Another perk to registration was the refillable water bottle included in the KJ guest bags. There were many water refill stations available for guests to rehydrate throughout the beautiful hot day. Plastic bottles have a large carbon impact. In 2007, more than 200 billion liters in bottled water were sold in which 80% of these were improperly disposed of or sent to landfills.* Moreover, plastic bottles are very energy intensive to manufacture and require even more energy for transportation and distribution. Reusing water bottles may reduce these impacts significantly if people choose to use them. We were thrilled to see our guests immediately using the reusable bottles, and we hope they will be inspired to continue to do so.


Finally, there were many trash diversion bins manned by volunteers throughout the event to explain how to use the bins properly. KJ was able to reduce its landfill waste from the event by waste diversion tools provided by local events greening guru Green Mary. Green Mary and her crew provide their incredible services to create zero waste events. There were three bins that separated waste by: plastic recyclables, landfill waste, and compostable waste. Compostable plates and utensils provided for all food services. Composting is important because it helps reduce waste that goes to landfill, and can be used as soil fertilizer.* By reducing non-compostable materials used at the event, KJ was able to significantly reduce its total landfill impacts.


The event was an overall success. Though many steps were made to green the event, there is always more to be done. This event was a great opportunity for the team to measure through observation what KJ was able to achieve, and what we can improve upon for next year’s event. Next year’s event will be a great opportunity to raise the bar even further.

Do you have any strategies for greening future events?

-Sabrina, sustainability intern
*Provided by Practically Green, an online sustainability metrics tool