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ECCO Waste Watchers

East Calhoun Community Organization's (ECCO's) Green Team used a $2,000 Hennepin County grant to create Waste Watchers - a program to reduce neighborhood waste through the organics collection pilot program and an increase to their curbside recycling.

ECCO promoted the program through the Uptown Neighborhood News (UNN), monthly e-newsletters, the ECCO website, door-knocking and neighbor-to-neighbor discussions. It also provided participants free supplies (cloth bag, compostable bags and countertop compost pail) to help implement the new system. To create further awareness, they designed, built and raced a Waste Watcher-themed boat in the Aquatennial Milk Carton Boat Races; organized a Tour de Compost and two waste reduction workshops; and conducted two surveys whose results showed that 84% of those surveyed reduced their household trash over the course of the project and, of these, 75% were composting more and 44% were recycling more.
A zero-waste social event was held at the end of the project to honor all the volunteers.
Results: 44% of eligible East Calhoun households are now participating in the curbside organics collection pilot. Waste Watchers had a core volunteer group of 15-20 people and was a finalist for the 2012 Environmental Initiative Award (sponsored by the nonprofit, Environmental Initiative) in the Sustainable Community category.
East Calhoun was selected as one of two neighborhoods in Minneapolis for the single-sort recycling pilot, in part due to the neighborhood's 32% increase in the amount of recycling collected in East Calhoun) contributed to the City's decision to implement single-sort recycling citywide in 2013.
ECCO won two Community Energy Services awards -- including first place in the Outreach Challenge Award for having the highest participation rate of eligible Minneapolis neighborhoods and an Outstanding Contribution Award for ECCO's staff coordination of the program's promotion activities.
$2,000 Hennepin County
East Calhoun neighorhood
Hennepin County