By: Emily Hammes Sustainability Sep 28, 2016 S.O.R.T. it out: Our Contribution to Sustainability at ArtPrize It's ArtPrize season! ArtPrize is back in full swing! This is a big time of year for GR; the city is flooded with amazing art and tourists from all over the world. Drawing over 400,000 attendees, ArtPrize does a lot of good for our city, but there are some downfalls. With an influx of visitors, the amount of waste produced during ArtPrize is substantial. But this year, we should see some major improvements in waste reduction at ArtPrize. S.O.R.T. it out In preparation for ArtPrize Eight, The Image Shoppe partnered with ArtPrize, The City of Grand Rapids, Kent County, and WMEAC to develop a new waste-management system for ArtPrize and other city-wide events: The S.O.R.T. (Separate Organic, Recycling & Trash) Program. S.O.R.T. allows event goers to “sort it out" at designated SORTing stations located throughout the city. SORTing stations are color-coded and follow the concept of a stoplight (green = compost, yellow = recycling, and red = trash), to help visitors properly separate their unwanted materials into the appropriate bins. The program also serves as an educational piece for people of all ages, backgrounds and education levels. On the surface, this program may sound like it was easy to construct, but much research, planning, and testing went into the making of the S.O.R.T. program and SORTing Stations. Inspiring Change Through Education Because ArtPrize draws attendees of various ages, backgrounds, education, and experiences, conceptualizing a successful waste management program took a healthy amount of strategic thinking. First and foremost, the stations needed to be easy to understand and user-friendly for multiple audiences. This meant providing all of the signage in both Spanish and English, using simple verbiage when explaining the importance of recycling and composting, and ensuring the process of sorting unwanted materials is easy and convenient. Learn more about the need for the S.O.R.T. program at ArtPrize in this article by Amela Pegman, Managing Director of ArtPrize. The Importance of the S.O.R.T. Program Programs like S.O.R.T. are a vital step toward improving sustainability efforts in Grand Rapids for a few reasons. Most importantly, it teaches residents and visitors how recycling and composting significantly impact our community and the environment—both at public events and at home. And the education doesn’t stop there—SORTing Stations are stocked with informational handouts about recycling and composting in both Spanish and English for visitors to easily apply these methods at home. Secondly, it poses as a gateway for children to understand the concepts of recycling and composting as related to a concept we all learn at a young age—a stoplight. The idea is that these types of programs are the building blocks of sustainable habits into adulthood. Lastly, these stations entice users to pause before immediately throwing their waste in the trash. The colors, imagery, and multiple receptacles naturally prompt visitors to stop and think before tossing something in the trash. Helping Grand Rapids S.O.R.T. It Out! During the first week of ArtPrize, the TIS crew was able to volunteer at the SORTing stations at Rosa Parks Circle and Calder Plaza, where we helped ArtPrize-goers properly S.O.R.T. their trash, recycling, and compost. We loved seeing the program come to life and enjoyed helping ArtPrize-goers learn more about waste management. You can find the SORTing stations at Rosa Parks Circle, Calder Plaza, and the ArtPrize HUB. If you’re interested in volunteering at the S.O.R.T.ing Stations, click here to sign up your organization or group!