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Greening The Fair

Greening The Fair - photo of the ferris wheel

Super Green

We’re proud to be the Greenest Fair on Earth! The award-winning Marin County Fair combines the red, white and blue of America’s history with the green of American’s future in sustainability by integrating environmental stewardship at the Fair.

Renewable Energy

Harnessing The Wind

Harnessing The Wind

The propeller-free Windspire vertical turbine serves as a leading-edge renewable energy demonstration project and showcases the future of wind energy. Made by Mariah Power, this bird-friendly, quiet and safe 30’ tall wind turbine generates about 1,800 KW hours annually to run nearby exterior lighting outside the entrance of Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium. This is the first wind turbine installed at the fairgrounds in California.

Marin Clean Energy

Marin Clean Energy

The electricity that isn’t generated directly from the fairgrounds’ on-site solar array will be 100% carbon-free thanks to the Fairgrounds participation in Marin Clean Energy’s Deep Green service which includes solar and wind power. By using Deep Green, the Fairgrounds are supporting the development of new, local renewable energy projects including a 10.5 megawatt solar farm in Richmond.  

Waste Diversion

Setting Records

Setting Records - Waste Diversion

It is the goal of the Marin County Fair to produce an environmentally friendly event. In support of our goals and our already impressive 92% diversion rate for over a decade; you will notice a comprehensive resource recovery program throughout the fairgrounds! Through coordinated efforts of Race to Zero Waste, La Rocca Janitorial Services, and Marin Sanitary Service more than 28 tons of recycling and 80 tons of compost have been collected, setting a waste diversion record, for the ”Greenest County Fair on Earth.” As an attendee of the Marin County Fair, you will find 60 (clearly marked) diversion stations throughout the fairgrounds to divert your items into the proper receptacle. If you’re having a tough time locating one, please refer to the maps strategically placed throughout the fairgrounds to find the closest diversion station near you!

Zero Waste Education

Zero Waste Education - Waste Diversion

To bring more zero waste education and awareness to the fair, Race to Zero Waste will be staffing two Zero Waste booths near the main food court area across from the barnyard and one near the Global Market Place.


Recycling - Waste Diversion

Race to Zero Waste has collected and sorted over 2 tons of recycling at 60 waste diversion stations located throughout the county fair. Materials include glass, aluminum, plastic bottles and cardboard and is process by Marin Sanitary Service in San Rafael.


Composting - Waste Diversion

Thanks to the leadership of Marin Sanitary Service, Race to Zero Waste, and La Rocca Janitorial Services, since 2009, the Fair sorts all recyclable and compostable products at the Fair’s 32 food and beverage vendors and collects the items below:
  • Food waste from 32 vendors — corn husks from roasted corn compostables and recyclables from Fair guests including hot and cold, fiber-based paper plates, cups, napkins, utensils, left-over food waste and paper towel collection from 14 fairground restrooms: 73.32 tons
  • Recovers and rescues edible food that is donated to the local non-profit, ExtraFood
Since 2010, The Marin County Fair has achieved a diversion rate of 90% and above on average, making it a zero waste event according to the Zero Waste International Alliance (ZWIA) standards. Race to Zero Waste is an affiliate of ZWIA and honors the peer-reviewed definition of zero waste.

Food & Beverage

The Fair strives to offer healthy food options for Fair guests:

  • Healthy Food Choices are featured on all 32 concessionaires’ menus.
  • All concessionaires use recyclable cups and compostable plates, flatware, dishes, bowls, etc.
  • Food concessionaires work with the services of Race to Zero Waste and Marin Sanitary Service collects pre-consumer organic food waste and post-consumer leftover food, and compostable plates, flatware, etc. The pre-consumer food waste is picked up daily by Marin Sanitary Service for delivery to the Central Marin Sanitation Agency in San Rafael to be converted into energy. The barnyard and post-consumer attendee waste is collected by Race to Zero Waste. Marin Sanitary Service then hauls the material to Redwood Landfills composting facility in Novato to be made into a soil amendment for local farms and gardens.
  • Sequential Oil collects used cooking oil from all 32 vendors for re-use as biodiesel at their filling stations in Sonoma County.
  • To conserve electricity, exterior marquee and decorative lights are turned off at all outdoor food trailers all day until 7 p.m.

Choose Reusables

It’s easy to reduce your waste footprint while visiting the fair! The Marin County Fair encourages attendees to bring BYO (Bring Your Own) water bottle and drink cup and refill at the six hydration stations located at the fairgrounds. Consider opting out cutlery, straws and napkins, and instead, bring your own while reducing waste and enjoying all the fun activities the fair offers!

The Fair has a great history and partnership with For the first time in 2018, we partnered with Marin-based company Tons upon tons of healthy, fresh food are thrown into landfills in Marin, creating an enormous environmental problem. Yet one in five Marin County residents worry about where their next meal is coming from. There is enough healthy food for all in Marin, but there has been a critical, missing link between those who have it and those who need it. ExtraFood fills that gap.

By participating in this program, our food vendors saved money on any disposal or recycling fees, reducing waste, and helping the hungry. Plus, they got a tax deduction!

Food Collection List

Food Collection List - From Fair Vendors

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Red & green peppers
  • Bagged lettuce
  • Chicken
  • Chocolate milk
  • Chinese noodles
  • Corn on the cob
  • Romaine lettuce
  • French fries
  • Limes
  • Sausage
  • Hot dog and sandwich rolls
  • Paper cups
  • Bottled Water

Smart Alternative Fuels

The Fair is pleased to partner for the first time this year with Smart Alternative Fuels and their Used Cooking Oil Collection services. Proper collection of waste cooking oil and grease prevents environmental contamination by these substances, as well as harmful buildup in sewer and drain lines that can lead to costly blockages. Additionally, their collected waste oil is recycled into biodiesel for use in everyday commerce, displacing fossil fuels and supporting a sustainable system to reduce the carbon footprint in our communities.

Energy Efficiency

Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium

Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium - Energy Efficiency

In 2010, all of the lighting fixtures were replaced with energy-conserving bulbs and fixtures in the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium. The 39-year old HVAC was replaced with modern, energy-efficient unit ¬thanks to support of the California Energy Commission. Together, these improvements result in an estimated annual savings of 160,700 KWh and cost savings of $20,000 annually.

Exhibit Hall

Exhibit Hall - Energy Efficiency

All of the lighting fixtures in the Exhibit Hall and Meeting Rooms were replaced with energy-conserving fluorescent bulbs. This lighting retrofit creates savings of nearly $20,000 per year, while improving lighting levels and quality. The 35-year-old HVAC units in the Exhibit Hall were replaced with five new energy-efficient units, resulting in cost savings of about $28,500 per year, while improving comfort and reliability, thanks to the support of California Energy Commission.

All of this is particularly important with the passage of State of California Assembly Bill 32 that mandates the reduction of greenhouse gases. These two projects eliminated the emission of 122,000 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere annually, which is equal to the amount offset by about 16 acres of trees.

Energy-efficient LED lighting was installed on the marquee reader board on Highway 101.

The Fair staff use a fleet of all-electric carts (rather than gas-powered ones) for Fair operations. These carts are plugged-in overnight at the Exhibit Hall building, site of the Fair’s solar panels.

To conserve electricity, all exterior marquee and decorative lights are turned off all day at all 32 carnival rides until 7 pm.

Butler Amusements is Shining New Lights!

Butler Amusements is Shining New Lights! - Energy Efficiency

The iconic Marin County Fair ride, the Giant Ferris Wheel, was retrofitted with the latest in LED (light emitting diode) thanks to Butler Amusements, who replaced the turbo lights on this very popular Fair ride. The Ring of Fire and Super Shot Drop Tower also were retrofitted, joining the Ferris wheel in using 90% less power!

The Giant Ferris is a whopping 90 feet high and is equipped with 2,500 LED modulars, with each modular containing 24 individual LEDs. Its consumption has now gone from 130kw to only 76kw! The Ring of Fire is a towering 60-foot tall ride and 4,000 new LEDs will bring the load from 120kw to just 93kw. The Super Shot Drop Tower is nearly 100 feet high and is illuminated with 2,264 LED modulars, but its energy consumption will plummet from 62kw to just 34kw.

Water Conservation

water drop into water
Saving Water

Saving Water - Water Conservation

Thanks to rebates from the Marin Municipal Water District, 23 Sloan Waterfree Urinals are installed in the five men’s restrooms of the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium and Exhibit Hall buildings. By using the touch-free, completely hygienic Sloan Waterfree system, the fairgrounds conserve an average of 40,000 gallons of fresh water per urinal, annually. In total, the fairgrounds conserve approximately 920,000 gallons of fresh water per year.

Thanks to the support of the Marin Municipal Water District, water-efficient, 1.6 gallon toilet fixtures have been installed in all fairgrounds restrooms.

plastic bottle crushed
Ban On Single-Use Plastic Bottles

Ban On Single-Use Plastic Bottles - Water Conservation

To continue being the Greenest County Fair on Earth, you will notice food vendors are not selling any single-use plastic bottles at the Fair! This is an effort to reduce plastics going in and out of the fair and meeting the County’s Zero Waste goals by 2025.

All fair attendees are encouraged to bring their own water bottle while visiting the fair and using one of the many U.S. Pure Water hydration stations or water fountains placed throughout the fairgrounds.

Water Refill Stations

Water Refill Stations- Water Conservation

For the 2022 Fair, we are partnering with US Pure Water who are installing four water refilling stations throughout the fairgrounds. USPW is at the forefront of the green revolution; greening festivals and events by educating consumers and providing self-serve water stations and reusable containers as an alternative to single-use bottles. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic they also offer touch-less water bars. These minimize the possibility of transmission by eliminating contact points between the station, the users, and their containers.

In 2018, with a partnership with FloWater, the Marin County Fair saved 33,966 bottles from going into the landfill. Fairgoers took great advantage of the Refill Stations and appreciate and support our efforts with this initiative.

  • There was 407,592 oz. / 3,184.31 gallons of water used from the source vs filling up plastic bottles.
  • It takes 3x the volume of water to make a plastic water bottle than it does to fill it. The Marin County Fair saved 1,222,776 oz. / 9,553 gallons of water from being used solely for the manufacture of 33,966 plastic bottles.
  • It takes four oz. of oil to make one plastic water bottle (pumping, processing, transportation and refrigeration). Marin County Fair saved 135,864 oz. of oil, the equivalent of 25 barrels of oil.
Water Efficient Landscaping

Water Efficient Landscaping - Water Conservation

Partnering with the Department of Parks and Open Space, the Fair practices these water efficient landscape practices:

The fairgrounds saves fresh water by having the lawns, gardens and landscaping irrigated by recycled water provided by the Las Gallinas Sanitary District.

Recycled water is also in use at the new restrooms at the Marin Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium and Lagoon Park.

Staff uses the landscaping techniques of sheet mulching and adjusts irrigation schedules for each season and inspects and maintains irrigation systems regularly.

Three John Deere Eagle Irrigation Control Clocks predict temperature, wind, soil and planting conditions to conserve water and irrigate the lawns, trees, and landscaping only when needed. These California Irrigation Management Information System (CIMIS) controllers are linked to weather stations and satellites all over the state and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Fair Operations


Fair signage is made of recyclable and reusable materials:

Outdoor A-frame signs are made from recycled milk bottles.

Directional and informational signs and banners are printed on an environmentally friendly Foam-Core alternative using recyclable and biodegradable materials.

Exhibit Installation

The Fair strives to adopt eco-friendly measures:

  • Use of environmentally-friendly cleaning products with low toxicity.
  • As an alternative to vinyl table skirting, the Fair uses skirted linens that can be used for years.
  • Use of new low-wattage halogen track lighting; new bulbs have longer-life expectancy and are more energy efficient.
  • Use of recycled display walls for competitive exhibits in 40,000 square feet of Exhibit Hall and Redwood Foyer.
Pedal To The Fair

Fair guests can cycle to the fairgrounds and park their bike in the Bicycle Valet Parking area near the Main Gate, courtesy of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. Complimentary bicycle valet parking is available daily.

Green Fairgrounds Covering

Brocco and Sons of Sonoma use a magnesium chloride dust control product from the salt ponds of the San Francisco Bay to cover six acres on the fairgrounds. This dust treatment, used by organic vineyards and agriculture in the production of tofu, provides an earth-friendly and pedestrian-friendly covering for fair guests.

The Barnyard Goes Green

The Fair uses white pine wood shavings in the demonstration tent, on the Great American Pig Race track, and in the cages in the Fur and Feathers Tent, an absorbent and comfortable bedding for the Fair’s popular farm animals. Wood shavings, straw and manure from the Barnyard is collected and then trucked to an organic farm in West Marin after the Fair.


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Awards Getting Green

Thousands of Marinites receive trophies, plaques and blue, red and green ribbons as recognition of achievement. Ribbons are made of processed wood pulp; unlike most man-made fibers, these ribbons come from a renewable resource and are biodegradable.

Becoming A Green Campus

The 50-acre Marin County Fairgrounds joined the Bay Area Green Business Program and became certified in April 2008.

Fair staff work with the Community Development Agency Sustainability Team to select and record measures and develop policies and programs that will help make the Marin County Fair healthy, vibrant and sustainable for many generations into the future.

The fairgrounds are part of over 1,500 Bay Area businesses earning certification as a Green Business. For more information on the Green Business certification process, visit

Green Partners

These public agencies, non-profit organizations and companies guide and support the ongoing efforts of the Marin County Fair to incorporate sustainable business practices:

  • Marin County Board of Supervisors
  • Community Development Agency – Sustainability Team
  • Conservation Corps North Bay
  • Department of Parks and Open Space
  • Department of Public Works
  • Division of Fairs and Expositions
  • California Energy Commission
  • California Construction Authority
  • Cultural Services Commission
  • Healthy Marin Partnership
  • Marin County Bicycle Coalition
  • Marin Clean Energy
  • Marin Energy Management Team
  • Marin Municipal Water District
  • Marin Sanitary Service
  • Marin Master Gardeners
  • North Bay Restaurant Services
  • Play Fair Marin
  • Revolutionary Green
  • Smart Alternative Fuels
  • US Pure Water