Festival on the Green is a community event in Mansfield, Conn., that celebrates small-town life. Mansfield officials work hard to be on the leading edge of waste reduction and recycling. To that end, resident trash cans are diminutive compared to the containers provided for compost and bottle and can recycling. Each is topped with a sign clearly designating which items should be deposited in the bin.

The population of Mansfield, home to the University of Connecticut (UConn), fluctuates between 15,000 and 25,000, depending on whether school is in session. With UConn as the town's primary employer, there is no business district. The Mansfield Downtown Partnership is sponsoring a project to establish a traditional New England town center, comprised of living quarters and shops clustered along narrow streets and a village green. The Festival on the Green was established to showcase this vision. From the beginning, the festival committee wanted the celebration to be a low-waste event, in keeping with the sustainable design guidelines for the town center.

Mansfield's festival is patterned after similar low-waste fairs. Both the Common Ground Fair in Maine and the Lowell Folk Festival in Massachusetts compost and recycle 90 percent of the waste produced during their multi-day events. The festival committee decided that if these much larger events can do it over the course of several days, it was certainly manageable for a five-hour event.

It has been a learning process since the festival's inception in 2004, spawning a range of improvements. Below is a summary of waste diversion efforts at the festival: