Green digest // Hennepin County offering environmental grants

Community and neighborhood groups, congregations and Early Childhood Family Education programs may apply for Hennepin County grants to fund environmental projects.

The grants of up to $5,000 are available for projects intended to reduce waste, encourage proper disposal of hazardous waste, improve recycling rates, conserve energy or protect local waters, the county reported. Groups also will receive training and technical assistance.

Applications for grants from the county’s Community POWER, or Partners on Waste Education and Reduction, program are due by Nov. 15. Groups interested in proposing sustainability projects can first meet with project managers at a grant information meeting 5 p.m.–6 p.m. Oct. 20 at Sumner Library, 611 Van White Memorial Boulevard.

The grant winners will use environmental education toolkits developed by the county and previous recipients of Community POWER grants. The toolkits are packed with tips for groups planning to start up their own environmental projects, and can be found online at hennepin.us/communitypower.

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Another month, another thermostat deal

There’s another deal out there for homeowners who haven’t yet upgraded to a programmable thermostat.

Last month it was mail-in rebate offer on Honeywell programmable thermostats (still good, by the way). This month it’s a $5 Menards gift certificate offered to homeowners who recycle an older mercury-containing thermostat at one of the Hennepin County drop-off facilities, located in Bloomington and Brooklyn Park.

Drop off an old thermostat, complete a contact information form and the gift card will arrive in the mail, courtesy Covanta Energy Corporation. The offer is good through the end of the year or as long as supplies last, and there’s a limit of one gift card per household.

The deal is potentially a win for both the environment and for homeowners still dialing up the heat with an older, mercury switch thermostat.

Programmable thermostats help homeowners save on energy bills by turning down the heat or air conditioning during times of day when the home is unoccupied. A Hennepin County fact sheet on mercury points out that energy conservation also reduces the demand on coal-burning power plants that release mercury into the environment.

Mercury, found in older thermostats as well as some batteries, appliances, fluorescent light bulbs and other household products, is toxic. It’s illegal in Minnesota to throw mercury-containing items in the trash because of the risk the pollutant poses to the environment.

Homeowners still have until Nov. 30 to act on the mail-in rebate offer from Honeywell mentioned above. For more information visit the webpage of the rebate program’s co-sponsor, Clean Energy Resource Teams, or CERTs, a tcleanenergyresourceteams.org.

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Greenway ride meets fundraising goal

Riders in the first-ever Greenway Challenge Sept. 25 each pedaled 44 miles on the Midtown Greenway — that’s four roundtrips from Uptown to the Mississippi River — raising nearly $25,000 for the Midtown Greenway Coalition.

Eric Mueller raised $5,485 in pledges to support the coalition, a nonprofit advocate for the east-west bicycle and pedestrian corridor, and took home the grand prize, a trip for two to France. Mueller earned the stay in a wine country chateau by raising more than one-fifth of the total amount pledged in the challenge.

“He was just creative and aggressive in his fundraising,” said Tim Springer, executive director of the coalition.

More than 40 cyclists helped the coalition meet its fundraising goal with the challenge. Based on feedback from riders after the event, it is very likely to return some time next year, Springer said.

“We’re just excited,” he added “It went so well.”

Reach Dylan Thomas at [email protected]

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Reuse and save

Choose to Reuse Today books with coupons redeemable at area reuse retailers were released Oct. 1, Hennepin County reported.

Those reuse retailers include places that buy, sell, trade, consign, repair or do anything else to keep used items in use and out of the landfill. Pick up the coupon book and you’ll read this argument for reuse: It not only cuts back on waste, it conserves the energy and resources used to produce new products and can save consumers money.

B Squad Vintage & Vinyl, Electric Fetus and Magers & Quinn Booksellers are just a few of the Southwest retailers participating in the promotion. In all, 80 local reuse retailers were offering deals through Choose to Reuse Today.

The coupon book is free and available at participating retailers, all Hennepin County libraries and service centers and Three Rivers Park District locations. They’re also available for download on the county website, hennepin.us.

All coupons in the book are good through Nov. 30.