The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Division of Environmental Protection’s Recycling Program has awarded grants to six Nevada organizations, including a Carson City pilot project involving 30 restaurants. About $67,500 in grant funding has been made available for projects to increase recycling, public awareness of the importance of conserving natural resources, and for the reduction, reuse and recycling of solid waste. The funding comes from the Solid Waste Management Account that receives $1 per tire for each retail tire sold in Nevada.

Carson City: GreenUP! Green Dining District: $20,000

GreenUP! is a 501c3 organization that provides environmental education for businesses. Funds will be used to pilot the launch of a green dining district in Carson City that will provide recycling guides to 30 restaurants on Carson Street, between Stewart (south boundary) and Winnie Streets (north boundary) and encourage them to take action to eliminate straw usage, discontinue use of Styrofoam containers, compost their food waste, and practice energy saving measures at their establishments.

Donna Walden is the President of the Board for GreenUP! and is beginning the planning stages for implementing the new grant for Carson City. “Restaurants are busy, and I believe they would do more for recycling and limiting waste if they had the time,” said Walden. “That’s why we’re doing this. The incentives for restaurants are not only to help the environment, but to save a lot of money. If they’re not wasting food, if they’re using energy efficient lights and appliances, those are huge savings already.”

Walden got the idea when she visited St. Louis’s “green dining district” and thought immediately of Carson City. “With Carson’s initiative to make downtown more walkable, adding a green dining district would make perfect sense,” said Walden. “Carson is a small but very important region, and there’s a lot going on already there. It’s the perfect place to start.”

According to Walden, the average restaurant produces 100,000 pounds of garbage per year, and 95 percent of that could be composted. Which is bad for the environment and bad for business. Restaurants that are interested will be presented with information for the year-long program. A “champion” from each business would work with GreenUP! on a monthly basis to achieve waste reduction goals.

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