Carpenter Nature Center was fortunate to receive a Dakota County Community POWER (Partners of Waste Education and Reduction) grant in the fall of 2006 to convert its 22 year-old Apple Blossom Races into a Zero Waste Event. With input from Dakota County, Eureka Recycling and a sponsorship from Waste Management the event was a success with over 85% of the waste being redirected to recycling and composting facilities! As part of our mission of inspiring stewardship of the natural world we would like to share with you our experiences, resources and knowledge. If you or your center is planning an event, please do not hesitate to call us and ask questions.
Our primary resources were:
1. DAKOTA COUNTY COMMUNITY P.O.W.E.R
Valuable suggestions from our Dakota County contacts were to speak with our vendors/suppliers beforehand to alert them of our efforts. This way we could plan for any non-compostable, non-recyclable packaging. Unfortunately this grant program is no longer available.
2. Regional and local WASTE MANAGEMENT contacts: You may have a different waste hauling company in your area that can help you coordinate your event.
3. Local Hastings Girl Scout Troop: It is ESSENTIAL that waste stations be monitored. Most people have never separated out organics and many are even confused about recyclables. Volunteers who are eager to maximize this teachable moment is one of the keys to a successful Zero Waste effort.
4. Resource Recovery Technologies: This company does not haul organics, but they processed all our organic materials. The organics collection container and its transportation must be coordinated through your local waste hauler. Your region may utilize a different organics processing company. Utilizing professional services results in diverting a wider variety of compostable materials than would be possible in a backyard compost pile. This facet of the project was the one that brought us the most success.
5. Eureka Recycling Events Planning Contact: This company has lots of experience working on reducing waste at large events.
6. Washington County Environmental Specialist: The County supplies hands-on demonstration materials for composting/recycling displays that they loan out FOR FREE to Washington County Groups. Perhaps your County has similar resources?
Also very helpful in this event were the following:
BioBag: Great compostable bags of all sizes. This company also has a Max Air counter top backyard composting system.
City of Hastings Recycling Coordinator : Perhaps your city has resources you can utilize?
Ecoproducts: A useful supplier of many green products, including compostables.
Green Home Inc.: A great resource for environmental products.
Resourceful Bag & Tag, Inc. : This company is the supplier of the “Clear Stream” X-framed, collapsible, events recycling, waste and composting containers that you are likely to see at the Living Green Expo. The benefit of these containers are that the bags are clear so that event attendees can see where to place the item they are getting rid of.
Restore: A local company who has green cleaning products & bottle refilling stations.
World Centric: World Centric is a non-profit working with many green products.
If you have any questions about hosting a Zero Waste event, please feel free to contact Jennifer Vieth