N.C. Fair trying out green scheme

RALEIGH - Going green at the N.C. State Fair used to mean too many rides on the Tilt-A-Whirl. Now, though, it has come to represent an incremental effort by those who manage the fair and the fairgrounds to reduce their impact on the environment.

Fair visitors might notice several environmental efforts, starting with an exhibit called Green NC, just inside Gate 11, that will show them ways to reduce their carbon imprints and invite them to promise to be better environmental stewards. Those who pledge will receive tie-dyed T-shirts or reusable grocery bags.

For the first time this year, visitors will be able to recycle aluminum drink cans and plastic bottles, dropping them off at four stations around the fairgrounds. Volunteers will man the stations to try to keep guests from dropping other trash into the bins. If the test is successful -- meaning only recyclable materials go into the bins -- the project will be expanded next year.

That's an attempt to cut down on the estimated 1,700 tons of trash that's hauled away from the fair each year.

Then there's all that cooking oil. Last week, three 1,000-gallon underground tanks were installed on the fairgrounds to hold used cooking oil from the dozens of food vendors that set up at along the midways. About 8,000 gallons of oil will be collected and converted to biodiesel, then put in the tanks of tractors and combines on state-owned research farms or of tractor-trailers that deliver commodities to schools.

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