Hennepin County lauded several Southwest-area businesses early this year for their strong recycling programs. Forty honorees included Barbette, Common Roots, Butter Bakery Café, MSP Airport, Wedge Community Co-op and The Bakken Museum.
The business sector generates more than half of the waste in Hennepin County, with about one-third of the waste being food and food-soiled paper, according to the county.
Butter has composted waste since 2006, and it’s down to about five gallons each week that can’t be recycled or composted.
“As a restaurant that produces two dumpsters worth of waste each week, to have just a 5-gallon pail to deal with as actual waste makes a statement,” Butter owner Daniel Swenson-Klatt wrote in the Lyndale Neighborhood News.
The Bakken Museum was recently featured in the book “The Green Museum,” highlighting the museum’s educational outreach. In one school assembly, actors portray Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison debating alternating current versus direct current. And the traveling exhibit “Electrifying Minnesota” explores the impact electrification had on daily life in Minnesota.
Solar panels above the museum generate 3,500 kilowatt hours per year (enough to power a small house), and the Green Energy Art Garden showcases art and invention. Last summer’s artist-in-residence was Daniel Dean, who worked with students to build a sculpture equipped with solar panels that powered noisemakers inside the installation.
“They called it The Hive — the noises were rather bee-like,” said David Rhees, executive director of The Bakken.
Another student project this spring partners with Rich Kronfeld, locally famous for acting in the kids’ show Choo Choo Bob. The Bakken has previously showcased Kronfeld’s electric vehicle invention in the lobby — a Kickstarter is underway to help launch production of the “Raht Racer,” a recumbent pedal car with recharging batteries.
Museum staff continue to push toward green practices within the building as well. They are making plans to convert the building to LED lighting. And they recently formed a partnership with The Beez Kneez to install beehives in the museum’s wetland area, a spot on the east side of the museum featuring Dakota native plants.