A little more than 1,000 visiting students participated in this project. It also involved volunteers, interns, teachers, teachers aides and parents at home who packed the lunches. The naturalist team and volunteers sent informational letters to all student groups visiting Carpenter Nature Center who were planning to stay for lunch. Early in the grant period one school refused to participate in the waste reduction project so they were used as the baseline. All the lunch waste from their visit was collected and weighed. During subsequent lunches the naturalists made lunchtime presentations to visiting groups and volunteers who were helping with the waste streaming and educated students as they recycled or composted their lunch waste. A typical “brown bag” lunch produced one half pound of waste per student. After educational efforts and streaming, the students were well below one tenth of a pound.
In addition, Carpenter Nature Center streamlined waste collection and educated visitors about waste reduction at special events they hosted, including The Raptor Release, the Autumn in the Valley Gala, the Apple Blossom Races, the St. Croix Valley Scramble, the Masters of the Sky weekend, and the Apple Fest.
And, finally, the grant and focus on reducing waste allowed the rental coordinator to evaluate guest behavior, observe the variety of waste generated and make upgrades to the waste collection system signage, location and size. This helped make waste reduction easier and more effective for guests at weddings who might not be as knowledgeable on environmental topics such as waste reduction. The site rentals, including weddings, wedding receptions, corporate holiday parties and picnics had some success at waste reduction. Almost all site rentals participated in recycling. A small percentage participated in industrial composting. At least two wedding caterers and two event caterers participated in concerted efforts to reduce waste beyond simple recycling. Three bride & groom couples participated in expanded waste reduction and more than four event vendors helped focus on waste reduction.