A mid-summer evening, walking hand in hand and joking with friends. A starry sky, background music (maybe a hit from the ‘90s), t-shirt and shorts. That summer taste, open-air events and entertainment. Celebrations, between June and August, which are often long-standing local traditions, village fairs and territorial commemorative occasions. Exactly the type of context in which a big problem is generally underestimated: the use of plastic and single-use products. Not only the items are sometimes used incorrectly, but most importantly we don’t know which one is the correct bin to throw them in. If we really can’t help using disposables (an inappropriate choice anyway), it’s important that we at least dispose of them properly. And we can’t justify ourselves with the rhetorical “we’ve always done this way”, as someone might claim. The plastic problem is real, urgent and a priority at global level (as discussed in depth in previous articles); and that’s why the European Union has at last introduced a regulation banning the use of most single-use plastic items from 2021.
Village fairs are just an example, but many are the situations in which disposable products are used because it’s convenient. This problem – and the lack of correct information about the issue – led to the creation of Ok Bio, a new brand offering an alternative line of single-use compostable products for bars and restaurants in compliance with the new European regulations.
This company, together with other partners1 (including Cittadellarte), has organised Dove lo getto?, a free event (but reservation is required) scheduled for 9th May in Fondazione Pistoletto’s Sala Cervo. As inferred by the title, this initiative aims at presenting the new single-use material that will replace plastic, providing the participants with info on how to correctly dispose of it. Behind the scenes of the event is Cartaria Biellese, selling different types of customisable disposables. For a while now, this company has also been making compostable products, and to communicate this development they have created the brand Ok Bio, in the wake of the new European regulations about non-reusable plastic. We spoke to Clarissa Scarlatta, their communication manager: “There’s not enough information about how to dispose of compostable single-use products, – she explains – it’s a confused issue that needs to be more clearly addressed. That’s why we have been working for months on organising an event involving experts from the sector to talk with the individuals concerned and offer them correct information, so as to bring sustainability to village fairs too”.
As mentioned, disposable options are obviously always taxing from a green point of view, they are practical solutions on a logistical and organisational level, but for the safeguard of the environment they shouldn’t be adopted. On the other hand, for some types of events changing this line of action could be too difficult, especially if the resources to support a more sustainable choice are not available. This is when compostable single-use items – as well as recycling – could represent the first step in a new direction.
But let’s go back to the day of 9th May, featuring professionals from the sector as speakers: present at the event will in fact be Christian Aimaro (president of Amiat Spa and IREN Ambiente Spa), who will explain in detail the European regulation banning from sale plastic single-use items; and Alessandro Pizzi (Onda Verde Biella), who will focus on eco-events, in which volunteers invite people attending public gatherings to recycle correctly disposing of their rubbish in designated areas. Among the good practices presented on the occasion are MappiaAMO la Città di Verde, a plogging initiative curated by Andrea Campagnolo from mental drink NaturalBOOM, which places in harmonic relationship sport and the safeguard of the environment; and greenTO, an association linked to Turin university that has launched the brand Plastic free movida, aiming at promoting a sustainable nightlife not relying on disposable plastic products. The young members of this association carried out a research in the Santa Giulia area of the city, well known for its bars and restaurants, and they calculated that over the weekend each of these businesses uses about 1000 plastic cups a day, a number giving an idea of the huge and unsustainable quantity of waste. They have tried to solve the problem creating a network involving some of the bars and restaurants: in the ones adhering to the initiative you can get a reusable cup (in one of three different sizes) in exchange for a 1€ deposit, you can keep the cup all night, and at the end of it you can choose whether to keep it of return it and get your euro back.
“Compostable single-use products often don’t look much different from plastic ones, – Clarissa says – and distinguishing them might not be easy. Another problem linked to the communication aspect is that rules of recycling generally vary from one town to the other, making it difficult to divulge an unequivocal message”. The catering company Raggio Verde onlus, an eco-sustainable social cooperative, will be serving finger food, bamboo skewers and much more, all rigorously accompanied by compostable disposable cutlery made of the material presented at the event. Beverages will also have a green hallmark, with drinks provided by Quatela Bevande in returnable bottles, in collaboration with Lauretana. “Cittadellarte – Clarissa adds – is the perfect context in which to host an event of this kind. Running many projects in which art and environment complement each other, Fondazione Pistoletto is really the ideal place to talk about environmental sustainability”.
Art is in fact another key word of the event, not only because Fondazione Pistoletto actively provides the location for it, but also because of the participation of the group Bidibidon – Recycling with music, who will stage a performance inspired and dedicated to the themes of the initiative: a percussion show using recycled materials instead of traditional instruments.
In view of conveying the topics of the event through different languages, IF has launched the art call Sustainable views – punti di vista differenziati, addressed to Italian and international artists operating in the field of video-art who wish to offer a creative perspective on the themes of environmental sustainability and responsible recycling. The objective is to present sustainable life practices through the documentation (with specially-made films) of solutions and measures already in place, or “to look at the themes of environmental sustainability, recycling and waste disposal with a propositional, positive or utopic attitude, thus presenting reflections on climate change”, as stated on the website of the call.
This initiative was born from the collaboration of various organisations based in the Turin/Biella area (Ok Bio, Collettivo IF, PAV – Parco Arte Vivente) and Espronceda – Institute for Art & Culture (Barcelona), please click here to see all the details of the call. The link with art is also reflected in the prizes for the competition. The winning videos will be two, which will receive the following prizes: the Residency Award, promoted by Cittadellarte, consisting in a one-week-long artist’s residency within a UNIDEE module and the projection of the video on the occasion of events and exhibitions organised by Cittadellarte; the Workshop Prize, promoted by PAV – Parco Arte Vivente, consisting in the participation in two workshops led by artists featured in PAV2’s art programme; the Exhibition Prize, promoted by Espronceda – Institute of Art&Culture in Barcelona, reserved to both winners, who will have the opportunity to display their video artworks in an exhibition held at the institute itself and curated by Collettivo IF. The winners will be publicly recognised and the winning videos shown in the course of the event of the 9th May.
“Besides working on sales, – Clarissa concludes – our brand wants to invest in a correct communication. Compostable single-use items might be a convenient choice, but it’s important that their use is supported by the right information. We are pushing compostable products hard, people need to have all the relevant facts, because summer is on its way…”
In the series Game of Thrones some of the protagonists often mention, as an omen, that winter is coming. In this case it’s for the summer we have to be ready for, with awareness and responsibility.
While we wait for a world in which disposables are only a distant memory, these innovative products might represent a good practice to promote. Let’s remember that in the matter of sustainable daily practices, Italia che Cambia has elaborated the 2040 Vision – Productive cycles and waste, offering suggestions on how to behave responsibly in a green perspective.