Community August 13, 2008

Corn Cup Project

Gallery Walks: art-rich and waste-free

Art has long been used to convey a message, alter a perception, or challenge the norm, so it seems fitting that an environmental effort to cut down waste should be launched in connection with Ketchum’s popular Gallery Walk.

The Environmental Resource Center (ERC) and the Sun Valley Gallery Association (SVGA) have joined forces to promote environmental awareness through their innovative project titled cornuCUPia: The Corn Cup Project.

According to ERC’s Sam Garcia, the project encourages businesses to be more environmentally responsible by serving beverages in biodegradable cups, which can then be composted.

Gallery Walk is held nine times throughout the year in Ketchum and draws thousands who stroll the streets to view each gallery’s featured artists.

Host galleries often provide wine to guests, and galleries can go through thousands of disposable cups in the course of an evening.

With that in mind, SVGA member galleries have all agreed to begin using polylactic acid (PLA) cups to serve beverages on Gallery Walk evenings. Made from cornstarch, the cups are FDA-approved and look and function like the plastic cups currently in use.

“They look and feel like regular cups, they don’t melt, they stay cold, and they biodegrade completely in less than 90 days,” says Jamie Truppi, associate director of Gail Severn Gallery, who is helping facilitate the changeover.

The ERC and SVGA are working closely with Webb Landscape, and with Bald Mountain Excavation and Compost to introduce cornuCUPia: The Corn Cup Project.

Here’s how it works: During Gallery Walk, residents and visitors can deposit their used PLA cups into clearly marked bins bearing the cornuCUPia logo. Webb Landscape will transport the cups to Bald Mountain Excavation and Compost in Bellevue, where they will be processed and sold to the public as compost.

“We are hoping this program will be such a success that it will be expanded to other venues,” Truppi says.  

This article appears in the Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.