Green Notes: Join the Stop Food Waste Challenge, be a battery hero, county pursues anaerobic digestion facility

green notes

Create meals, not waste: Join the Stop Food Waste Challenge

We love food, which leaves us wondering: why do we let so much of it go to waste? About 40% of food is wasted somewhere along the supply chain, and you may be surprised to learn that much of that food waste happens at home.

Stop Food Waste Challenge graphic showing woman cooking in a home kitchen

Improve your food-waste-fighting skills 

Learning skills like creating a meal plan, buying just what you need at the grocery store, cooking creatively, and properly storing food can have a big impact on reducing the amount of food in your home that goes to waste.

Join Hennepin County’s online Stop Food Waste Challenge at to learn easy, practical skills that will help you stop wasting food, put more money in your pocket, and create a healthier environment.

Stop Food Waste Challenge graphic showing family at a pumpkin patch

How the challenge works

The challenge goes from October 13 to November 10. Create your profile, join or start a team, then browse the categories and actions. Select up to five one-time actions and five daily actions to make progress on during the four-week challenge.

It’s recommended that everyone starts with tracking their food waste for one week – it’s the best way to learn what’s going to waste in your household and identify ways to prevent it.

During the challenge, you will get email updates with resources and tips for taking action, access to reducing food waste webinars, and opportunities to connect with others.

Join the Stop Food Waste Challenge now.

Be a Battery Hero! Put batteries in their place

Be a Battery Hero graphic

During Fire Prevention Week, October 3 through 9, Hennepin County is raising awareness about how batteries may catch fire or be dangerous when they are thrown in the trash.

Be a Battery Hero! Put batteries in their place by dropping them off at a Hennepin County Drop-Off Facility.

Where do batteries hide?

Don’t let batteries get past you! If an item lights up, makes a noise, or moves without a plug, it has a battery.

Some batteries contain toxic metals, such as cadmium, lead, or mercury, which pose a threat to human health and the environment if they are improperly disposed. See the battery info sheet (PDF) to learn more about different types of batteries and where to find them.

Bring batteries to a Hennepin County drop-off facility

With so many kinds of batteries, it can be confusing to know what to do with them. To make it simple, the county accepts all types of household batteries from residents at Hennepin County drop-off facilities.

County pursues anaerobic digestion to turn food scraps into clean energy and back into healthy food

Last week, the Minnesota House of Representatives Capital Bonding Committee visited the county’s Brooklyn Park Transfer Station to learn more about the county’s request for $21 million in state bonding to expand the site and add an anaerobic digestor, frequently called an AD facility, to provide critically needed additional regional capacity to recycle organics.

AD facility tour

About anaerobic digestion and the county's vision for an Eco Center

Anaerobic digestion is a proven technology that transforms organics into renewable energy and nutrient-rich agricultural and soil products. The facility would be capable of processing a minimum of 25,000 tons per year of organics.

To maximize community benefits, the county’s vision for this site is an Eco Center that supports our climate, zero waste, and healthy community goals. Community partners could use the site for urban agriculture. The fertilizer, compost, and excess heat created in the digestion process could be used in onsite greenhouses and aquaponics systems. The Eco Center could also provide green jobs training and tours for students. The county needs the state funding and community support to make this vision a reality.

Illustration of anaerobic digestion facility and Eco Center

Building partnerships and support

Initial conversations with city leaders have garnered support for the project. Commissioner Jeff Lunde is engaging with social service agencies working in the nearby community to explore opportunities to partner on urban agriculture and food security. The county is also reaching out to neighbors by hosting “going green” events to talk about how important organics recycling is and how we can realize additional community and environmental benefits by digesting the organics.

Learn more about the project.

For more information, contact Ben Knudson at

Food rescue system audit seeks to increase food donation and reduce waste

Hennepin County Environment and Energy, in partnership with Hennepin County Public Health and the Center for Innovation and Excellence, is conducting an audit of Hennepin County’s food rescue system to find gaps and opportunities.

The project involves:

  • Working with food donation partners to find out which foods are being donated, which foods are needed, who is donating, who has desired foods but is not donating, what the barriers are to donation, and what efforts would help overcome those barriers.
  • Learning who participates in hunger relief systems, how these systems need to evolve, and ways that the voices of clients could be more prominent in the county’s hunger relief systems.
  • Identifying how the county’s food donation and rescue ecosystem could reduce the waste of surplus food, prioritize highly nutritious and culturally relevant food, improve the food rescue system’s overall effectiveness, and increase its responsiveness to community needs.

The audit will start this fall and wrap up in summer 2022. For more information, contact Carolyn Collopy at

Healthy Tree Canopy grants awarded

Two women wearing masks planting a tree, once holding a shovel and the other holding the tree

The county awarded 21 Healthy Tree Canopy grants totaling about $404,000. Grant projects will take place in nine cities, on 10 affordable housing properties, at four schools, and through five nonprofit organizations, including congregations and neighborhood associations. More than 1,000 trees will be planted through the grant projects.

The grants will:

  • Fund the collection of data through tree inventories, which is critical to increasing and diversifying the tree canopy and starting to respond to emerald ash borer.
  • Address the impacts of tree pests and pathogens by improving city forestry capacity and treating or replacing and replanting ash trees that are threatened by emerald ash borer. Grantees are required to plant at least one replacement tree for every ash tree removed.
  • Educate residents on the benefits of trees and engage them in tree planting efforts.
  • Improve livability and reduce disparities by planting trees in neighborhoods throughout the county experiencing disproportionate amounts of economic, environmental, and health inequities. Most of the grants awarded are within medium and high priority planting areas on the county’s tree planting priorities map.
  • Protect people and increase the county’s resilience to climate change – important goals in the county’s Climate Action Plan – by increasing the benefits that trees provide. These benefits include capturing carbon, reducing air pollution, and taking up stormwater, and providing shade to counteract the urban heat island effect.

Learn about the grants awarded.

For more information, contact

Education kits are available for reservation

Content of tree education kit

Are you interested in conducting an environmental education lesson or activity with a group, but don’t have all the supplies you need? Environmental education kits are available for reservation by groups within Hennepin County.

Kits are available for a variety of environmental topics, including food waste prevention, green cleaning, green parties, organics recycling, packaging waste reduction, protecting water, recycling, and trees and forestry.

Read the guidelines and reserve a kit.

Reminder: Funding available for community clean energy projects

Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) have seed grants available for clean energy projects. CERTs is seeking projects that:

  • Support community-based clean energy, including those related to energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy, electric vehicles, and energy storage.
  • Spur projects that are highly visible in their community and can be replicated by others.
  • Provide an opportunity for community education.

Applications are due October 8. Learn more and apply.


Confluence: Coming Together for Art and Water

Saturday, October 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Manomin Park, 6666 E River Road in Fridley

Confluence of the Steward promotion graphic with event information

Join Freshwater for a free celebration of Minnesota Water Stewards and their work to protect water. Confluence is open to the public and will feature art activities, a jamboree, printmaking, an interpretive hike by the river, games for kids (and adults!), a food truck, art exhibits, art for sale, and more!

Learn about Minnesota Water Stewards and join us to celebrate water with your community. Hennepin County and other watershed partners will be at Confluence to showcase our stewards’ work. Freshwater will follow the most current COVID guidelines from the CDC for this event.

Participate in the virtual Children’s Water Festival

Metro CWF logo with water lines and fish

Join a fun-filled virtual festival featuring presentations and activities about our most precious resource - water.

The virtual Metro Children’s Water Festival begins this week, and resources will be available throughout the 2021-2022 school year.

Virtual lessons consist of videos and downloadable curriculum covering many topics, including the following:

  • Connecting water and climate: A new resource developed by Climate Generation and supported by Hennepin County and Everyone Needs Food and Water that explores how water and climate are connected
  • Wastewater treatment for kids: What happens to wastewater from our homes?
  • Rainfall simulator: How different land covers affect how much rain soaks into the ground or runs off
  • The Mystery of the Disappearing Waterfall: What happened to the waterfall in the Twin Cities?
  • A model stream: How do streams pick their path and what creatures are found in them?
  • Youth help solve global water crisis: Water scarcity around the world and what you can do to help
  • Exploring macroinvertebrates and water quality: What small aquatic bugs called macroinvertebrates can tell you about the health of your local lakes and streams

Additionally, those who register will receive a packet of Every Kid Outdoors National Park passes for all 4th and 5th grade students in their classroom, home, or homeschool.

The event is free and open to all, but registration is requested.

Green Tip: Only rain down the storm drain

Graphic that says only rain down the drain with noids over motor oil, yard waste, and pet waste

The storm sewer on the street drains directly into local lakes and rivers – unfiltered – along with any trash or chemicals the rain picks up along the way. Do your part: only rain down the storm drain!

Report illicit discharge

An illicit, or illegal, discharge is anything purposely put into the storm sewer system that is not stormwater. If you see something other than rain entering the storm drain, contact your city stormwater staff.

Types of illicit discharge include:

  • Used oil or grease that is dumped or flows into a storm drain
  • Yard or plant waste dumping

Properly dispose of your waste

Sweep up! Rake up! Pick up!

Learn more about other things you can do to keep stormwater clean before it goes down the drain at

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