Environmental education resources

A wide variety of free environmental education resources and project support and funding is available to organizations working with residents in Hennepin County. 

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Environmental education toolkits

Use the environmental education tool kits to become familiar with environmental issues and implement environmental education lessons. Each tool kit includes:

  • Essential background information for each topic 
  • Facts and statistics
  • Free resources specific to each topic area
  • Activity ideas and instructions

The tool kits contain sections on reducing waste, recycling, toxicity reduction and proper disposal of household hazardous waste, energy conservation and improving water quality. 

Environmental Education tool kits

Congregations Tool kit (PDF)
Community Group Tool kit (PDF)
ECFE tool kit (PDF 21.37MB)
Youth Tool kit (PDF)


Learning trunks and event displays

Environmental Services has learning trunks and activities that can be checked out by educators (both formal and informal) for use in environmental education lessons.

Call 612-348-4168 to reserve any of the following education kits.

Greening Your Celebrations Education Kit*

The Greening Your Celebration Education Kit will help illustrated ideas for giving more environmentally friendly gifts and hosting greener parties. This kit illustrates many ideas from in the Greening Your Celebrations brochure (PDF).

The kit includes:

  • Examples of greener gift ideas
  • Examples of reusable or less waste gift wrapping.
  • Examples of less waste or reusable party supplies
  • Kit contents (PDF)

Household Hazardous Waste Learning Trunk

The Household Hazardous Waste Learning Trunk will help educators explain the importance of proper use, storage, disposal, and safety information of household hazardous products.

The trunk includes:

  • Sample products for label reading activity
  • Photos of similar-looking hazardous and non-hazardous products to illustrate the importance of proper storage
  • Activities, lesson plans and project ideas
  • Posters and display signs
  • Kit contents (PDF)

Recycle Half Event Display Materials

Hennepin County is encouraging people to recycle more and help us meet our goal of recycling half of the waste generated in Hennepin County by 2015 through the Recycle Half campaign.

Display materials are available to promote and engage people in the campaign at events. The Recycle Half Event Toolkit includes:

  • Poster displays
  • Do you know what to throw? Interactive recyclables display
  • Take the Recycle Half Challenge pledge cards and I Took the Pledge stickers
  • Event display and engagement instructions

Packaging Waste Reduction Learning Trunk

The Packaging Waste Reduction Learning Trunk will help educators illustrate how purchasing products with less packaging reduces waste and saves money.

The kits includes:

  • Two storage containers containing: 12 examples of 'less waste' packaging 12 examples of the same products with 'more waste' packaging. 
  • Reusable lunch bag containing reusable containers and cloth napkin.
  • Kit contents (PDF)

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Learning Trunk

This learning trunk will help educators and community leaders explain the importance of recycling, reuse, and waste reduction. It focuses on the connections and interactions of society in our changing world.

The kit is contained in two plastic storage boxes and a poster tube. The learning trunk is recommended for all ages.

The Reduce, Reuse, Recycle trunk includes:

  • Items that can be recycled
  • Examples from recycling manufacturers of what products look like during the recycling process
  • Curriculum, activity guides and project ideas
  • Books, posters and display signs
  • DVDs and videos on the 3Rs for all ages
  • Kit contents (PDF)

Recycled Product Learning Trunk

This learning trunk will help educators and community leaders explain the importance of completing the loop by purchasing goods made from recycled products. It focuses on showing the variety of items available and their quality.

This kit is contained in one large plastic storage box and a poster tube. This learning trunk is recommended for ages 10 and older.

The learning trunk includes:

  • Examples of what products look like during the recycling process
  • Recycled products available on the market today
  • Activity guides
  • Books and posters
  • DVDs and videos on recycling and buying recycled for most ages
  • Kit contents (PDF)

Your Street Connects to Lakes and Rivers Display

The display demonstrates how pollutants carried with runoff from lawns, driveways and streets drain directly into lakes and rivers. Polluted runoff may include sediment, yard chemicals, automotive fluids, pet or farm animal waste, road salt, and other debris.

With this display, individuals place "pollution balls" down the storm drain and follow them as they enter the nearby lake or stream. Each "pollution ball" is labeled to represent 1 of 10 common sources on nonpoint source pollution. It is great to use at local neighborhood events, watershed festivals, or in classrooms.

Brick of cans

The brick of cans shows what happens when cans are crushed at a recycling center. The brick of cans would be a great used with one of the learning trunks listed above.

Recycling sorting activity*

The recycling sorting activity is great for adult discussions on what can be recycled.

The activity includes two cloth bags filled with items you can or cannot recycle. A guide is attached to each bag with the answer key. This activity can spark some great discussions about recycling.

Kit contents (PDF)

Recycled bowling game

The recycled bowling game is a great activity for kids. The game includes reused pop bottles as pins. The games comes with a handout on the importance of reusing and recycling and instruction for making your own game.

Guidelines for reserving learning trunks

  • Trunks are available to group in Hennepin County only.
  • An organization can check out only one trunk and one activity at a time. Trunks must be returned before another trunk can be checked out.
  • Trunks can be checked out for 10 days at a time. ECFE programs can check out trunks for 16 days.
  • Please report to the county if you find any items in the trunk to be missing or broken.

* A few of the trunks are available to be picked up during the evenings and on weekends (between 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 5 - 7 p.m.) from the Do It Green! Minnesota Resource Center at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Please specify the pick-up location when making your reservation. There are a limited number of trunks held at the Do It Green Resource Center.

Literature order form

Factsheets, brochures and incentive items covering a wide variety of environmental topics are available to community groups, municipalities and schools in Hennepin County at no charge.

If you would like to order literature, visit the Environmental Literature Order Form to review what's available and order online.

Ordering guidelines

When ordering, please plan ahead. Orders will be filled and postmarked within three to five business days and will require an additional two to three days for delivery through the U.S. Postal Service.

If you need your order filled sooner, pick up at the 701 Building is an option. Select the pick up option on the order form. Pick up orders will be ready within two to three business days. Environmental Services staff will contact you when your order is ready for pick up.

We encourage you to plan ahead so your order can be shipped.

Newsletter articles and social media posts

Use our promotional materials, which include newsletter articles, web stories, social media posts and handouts, to promote the latest environmental programs, issues and news.

Promotional materials are now available for the following programs:

Choose to Reuse coupons

Hennepin County partners with local retailers to offer free Choose to Reuse coupons books valid from August 1 through October 31, 2014. 

Spread the word - help promote the Choose to Reuse coupon books:

Household hazardous waste collection events

Hazardous waste collection events provide local, convenient opportunities for residents to properly dispose of their unwanted automotive wastes, household, lawn and garden products, batteries, mercury-containing items.

Promote the collection events:

Compost bin sales

Hennepin County is selling compost bins to help people get started composting in their backyards. 

Promote the compost bin sales:

Fix-It Clinics

Residents with broken household goods or clothing in need of repair can get free, guided assistance on disassembling, troubleshooting and fixing their items at Fix-It Clinics.

Spread the word - help promote the Fix-It Clinics:

More promotional materials

Rethink Recycling communication tool kits

Available at Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board

Find free articles, fact sheets, images, ad templates and more on a variety of waste reduction and recycling topics.

Water quality newsletter articles

Events and speakers

Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services staff is available to attend events in the county and give presentations to:

  • Community groups
  • Schools
  • Organizations
  • Businesses

Depending on the type of event, speakers can be experts on:

  • Waste reduction and recycling
  • Water conservation
  • Natural resource protection
  • Toxicity reduction
  • And much more

Email sarah.goodspeed@hennepin.us or call 612-348-9850 to schedule a presentation or environmental expert for your event.

Videos and multimedia

Hennepin County has produced informational videos on a range of environmental topics. We encourage residents, businesses, organizations and local governments to use them to learn more about a range of important environmental topics.

DVD copies of some of these videos are available. Call 612-348-3777 to request a copy.

How to Collect Organics at Home

HERC - More Power Than You Know

Let's Get Rid of It! (Household hazardous waste)

Waste, What's the Problem?

Public Works Facility solar array

Organics recycling videos for food service

How to collect organics at home

Many cities in Hennepin County are now offering curbside organics recycling. Learn about what's compostable in each room of your house and how to best collect your organics.

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HERC - More power than you know

The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) is a waste-to-energy facility located in downtown Minneapolis that burns garbage to generate energy. HERC generates enough electricity to power 25,000 homes every year. HERC also provides steam for hot water and heating to the downtown Minneapolis district energy system and Target Field. Watch the video to learn more about how waste is managed in the county and how HERC generates energy from garbage.

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Let's get rid of it!

Learn more about how to dispose of your household hazardous waste properly to protect your family's health and our water and air.

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Waste, What's the Problem?

This five-minute video is an introduction to waste issues. It shows the amount of waste generated in the Twin Cities area, tells why some wastes are hazardous and gives ideas on how to reduce waste, recycle more and properly dispose of hazardous items.

Solar array on Medina Public Works Facility

Learn more about the county's solar array, installed as part of Hennepin County's Cool County initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The system will save 100 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and more than 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the warranted life of the array.

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Organics recycling videos in English and Spanish

These videos explain the three options for recycling organics - organics composting, food-to-people and food-to-animals. The videos are a good tool for training employees on organics recycling.

Environmental tours and field trips

Brooklyn Park drop-off facility

Hennepin County offers facility tours at the Brooklyn Park Transfer Station (BPTS) waste drop-off facility. Please refer to the BPTS tour safety guidelines and tour form to determine what may be available for your group.

The drop-off facility provides an opportunity for residents to properly manage household hazardous waste, recyclables, and problem materials such as computers, televisions and appliances. This tour highlights the importance of reducing, reusing, recycling and preventing pollution.

Hennepin Energy Recovery Center: A waste-to-energy facility

Hennepin County offers facility tours at the Hennepin County Energy Recovery Center (HERC) waste-to-energy facility. Please refer to the HERC tour safety guidelines and tour form to determine what may be available for your group.

HERC is a waste-to-energy facility in action where Minneapolis waste is received and burned to generate steam for the downtown district energy system and energy sold to Xcel. This tour describes the waste hierarchy, engineering alternatives to landfills and preventing pollution.

South Hennepin Recycling and Problem Waste Drop-Off Center in Bloomington

The Bloomington facility cannot accommodate tours due to its size and the heavy equipment in use.

Additional tour ideas

Hennepin County has compiled this list of field trip destinations (PDF) recommended for groups interested in environmental education.

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