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Sonoma County's 'Green Mary' hard at work

  • Mary "Green Mary" Munat has a lending library of reusuable event supplies which include dishes, cups, glasses, silverware.
    (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

If you were at Golden Gate Park's huge Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival this past weekend you might seen Mary Munat, in the garbage.

A closer look would have revealed that Munat, a Windsor resident known throughout the Bay Area and beyond as Green Mary, was in fact expending most of her energy and effort on non-garbage.

For more than a decade, her chief reason for being has been to educate, cajole, pester and shame organizers and attendees of large, public events to move aggressively toward generating no trash to be buried in landfills.

Fifty years old and fearless about getting dirty for the sake of a cleaner, healthier planet, Munat runs a company that seeks to demonstrate it is possible for virtually everything a human being might consciously drop into a waste can to be composted into soil booster, recycled or pulled out, cleaned up and used again.

A week ago, she and her Green Mary Zero Waste Events crew worked the GranFondo festival at Santa Rosa's Finley Community Park. She considered it an environmental triumph that the water provided was poured from large canisters into personal plastic bottles or reusable cups.

"Fifteen thousand people and no plastic bottles," she beamed. "Some events really, really get it."

This past weekend, Munat charged the organizers of the three-day Hardly Strictly festival $55,000 for her and several dozen seasonal employees to collect, sort and oversee the removal of the tons of discards produced by the crowd of hundreds of thousands of music lovers.

So she has come a long way since the Sonoma County festival of a dozen years ago that set her on a course to preserve resources and cut greenhouse gas emissions and environmental pollution by shrinking the waste stream.

The transforming event was the 2000 Health & Harmony Festival. Munat worked as the volunteer coordinator and took a break from those duties to hear Julia "Butterfly" Hill, the eco-activist who'd occupied a redwood tree on Pacific Lumber Co. land in southern Humboldt County for more two years.

Up on the festival stage at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Hill halted her tale on the inter-connectedness of living things when she spotted festival cans filled with trash.


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