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An Audit is a Terrible Thing to Waste


Three bins. One choice. Is the item you’re holding recyclable, compostable or destined for the land fill?

Denver Botanic Gardens visitors and employees are faced with this choice every day, thanks to our waste separation initiative. Bins all around the Gardens are labeled as either recycling, composting or landfill trash. Though we make a concerted effort to educate our staff and guests as to where their rubbish can reside, it wasn’t until Green Team Intern Vivian Blau conducted a thorough waste audit that we really learned how effective our waste sorting efforts have been.

Waste Audit in action

On a recent sunny autumn morning, the Gardens’ Green Team conducted a waste audit – sorting through a full 324 pounds of landfill trash, recycling and compostables to determine the efficacy of the waste-separating program. What did a morning of digging through garbage tell us about waste disposal at the Gardens?

  • Nearly all waste placed in the compost bins is, in fact, compost.
  • Most (~75%) of the items in the recycling bins are recyclable.
  • A high percentage of compoastables accidentally get deposited in the landfill trash bins.

Armed with this knowledge, the Gardens will continue striving to ensure that we recycle or compost as much waste as possible. This includes the utensils, cups and containers at Offshoots, which are all compostable!

It doesn’t take much to have a positive impact on the environment, be it at the Gardens or at home. Before you throw out your lunch, ask yourself a simple question – “Is this compostable or recyclable?”


Ellen Hertzman

David--thanks for highlighting these efforts! I always tell people, "If it was once alive, it can go into the compost bin." This includes paper, any vegetable matter--as you mentioned, all the serviceware at Offshoots is vegetable-based, even if it looks like plastic--and even meat. The cool thing is that everything we compost at DBG may well end up back here in the form of rich, dark soil.
David Rubin

Great reminders, Ellen! It's fun to think that your drink cup could end up helping a plant to grow.

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