Sustainability at the Fair

DC State Fair Sustainability Goals

The DC State Fair is committed to reducing the waste generated by and at the Fair by aiming to be a zero waste event. This is done with the support and participation of our planners, vendors, sponsors and attendees – like you! Learn more below about our efforts and what you can do to help.


We aim to divert 70% of the waste generated away from landfills and incinerators through increased composting and recycling. We also aim to reduce waste overall by encouraging reusable materials and other innovative ideas.

  • Reducing waste sent to landfills or incinerators helps:
    • reduce air pollution, such as mercury and nitrogen oxide emissions, which are linked to nervous system toxicity and asthma;
    • reduce liquids draining from landfills that can have toxic components and pollute water and
    • reduce greenhouse gas emissions that make climate change worse – especially when food and other organic materials are disposed of in landfills.
  • Reusing items instead of continuing the single-use cycle helps conserve resources.
  • Composting: Separating out organic materials and processing them into compost that can be used to grow food (that can in turn be composted when discarded) creates a circular process.
  • We’re prioritizing compostable materials because:
    • Single-use eating utensils and sample or condiment cups aren’t recyclable, so it’s especially important that these items be compostable (or ideally, reusable).
    • It’s also more difficult to ensure recyclable food containers are clean enough to actually be recycled at an outdoor Fair – but this isn’t a problem for compostable containers since food is compostable.

By law in DC, businesses or organizations providing food aren’t allowed to use disposable foam food service ware, and any single-use food service ware must be recyclable or compostable (with certain exceptions, including eating utensils). Single-use straws and coffee stirrers provided must be compostable as of January 2019 (with exceptions for people with disabilities). Businesses providing customers with a bag must charge $0.05/bag. To learn more, visit: and


  • Organizing waste stations: Located throughout the fairground, these will be run by volunteers and equipped with bins for compostables, recyclables and trash.
  • Setting up compost hauling: Veteran Compost will help us haul and process food waste and compostable food service ware. At last year’s Fair, we collected 12 40-gallon bags of compostables!
  • Shifting vendors’ supply: Vendors are encouraged to provide compostable food service ware and packaging (where reusable isn’t possible) to maximize the benefits of compost hauling. Last year, almost 60% of food or drink vendors provided only compostable food service ware!
  • Eliminating plastic bags: Vendors are encouraged to not provide plastic bags.
  • Making greener choices for volunteer food: At least most of the food provided for volunteers will be unpackaged or in compostable packaging.
  • Encouraging low-carbon transport: Access options for the Fair include metro, combined with a free shuttle on the Circulator bus between the metro and the Fairgrounds and a selection of bike share and micro-mobility options, such as e-scooters. Click here to learn more about how to get to the Fair.


Help us reduce waste at the Fair by bringing your own water bottle (no glass), coffee mug, utensils and/or bags. Divert waste away from landfills and incinerators by taking advantage of the Fair’s composting and recycling at waste stations.


Reusablegreenbottle stainless-deal-tumbler-jumboextralarge-285186 close-up-fork-macro-39565 Greenbag
Stay hydrated by bringing your own water bottle
(No glass, but metal or plastic is fine)
Bring your own coffee mug so you don’t have to use single-use cups Use your own utensils and earn a voucher for a free reusable stainless steel cup!* “Skip the bag” or bring your own
*Earn the free reusable cup through the following steps: take a picture of yourself using your own utensils to eat food bought from a vendor at the DC State Fair on September 8, post the picture to Instagram while tagging @dcstatefair and show the post to a Board member during the Fair.

Sign up here by August 25 if you want to help other Fairgoers sort waste by volunteering at the Fair’s waste stations, with bins for compostables, recyclables and trash.


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Say no to single-use (non-compostable) plastics Look out for “Green Line Vendors Take all your waste to the waste stations!

Do you have other ideas and want to help us put them into action? Email