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Montshire Museum of Science: Collaborating with the Community
to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

image of Hartford Community Recycling Center

Who wants a solid waste center in their town? Residents of Hartford, Vermont, did. Why? Because the Montshire Museum of Science spearheaded a unique facility called the Hartford Community Center for Recycling and Waste Management, which emphasizes the philosophy of "unshopping." Since 1992, residents of eleven area towns have used the center to recycle over a dozen different types of materials. The center is open six days as week.

Hazardous waste exhibit
As consumer materials have changed over the course of human history, so has garbage. This exhibit is designed to show how individuals can take responsibility for the garbage they generate. Tomorrow's earth-wise consumer will use non-toxic cleaners in place of commerical cleansers.
Through a small window on the sun face, visitors are confronted with choices they make each time they shop. The answers give important insights into how these choices affect the garbage we generate. Need a new coffee maker? The sun tells us that buying a better model may be more expensive in the short run, but will last longer and is less likely to end up at the landfill.
Sun's face graphic
American garbage pile next to a French garbage pile
The Montshire Museum produced exhibits to help educate consumers about recycling. Visitors learn that each American throws away 3½ pounds of garbage every day, about three times more than a typical French citizen. (This exhibit is a life-sized garbage pile of a typical American, compared with the more modest pile accumulated by the average French citizen.)
Visitors to the Hartford Community Center come to drop off trash or hazardous waste; shop at the "Good Buy Store," a re-usable good store; sort and properly dispose of their recyclable materials; play games about making wise environmental choices; and have a good time "at the dump." Local citizens, school bus tours, and town, regional, and state officials visit the facility.
Kids at the thrift store

Other People Who Are Making a Difference

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