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All-American Picnic Celebrates 50 years, 'Greenateers'
Greenateer map

Image above: This map will guide participants to the five Greenateering stations at the KSC All-American Picnic's Sustainability Fair. Image credit: NASA
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composting poster

Image above: Posters, like this one on composting, will mark the Greenateering stations at the KSC All-American Picnic's Sustainability Fair. Image credit: NASA
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KSC All-American Picnic Committee

Image above: Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, under NASA insignia, and the 2012 All-American Picnic committee display the KSC Picnic ticket. Image credit: NASA/Tony Gray
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Sustainability is an adventure children will take part in this weekend at the NASA Kennedy Space Center All-American Picnic as they earn the title "Greenateer." Adults will take part, too, even if they don't realize it. That's because the center's sustainability team designed the activities and fixtures common at a picnic to be environmentally friendly.

That means utensils and flatware designed for composting instead of landfills and numerous other steps. For the children, the activities are set up to offer them the adventure of environmentally conscious living.

"A Greenateer is someone between the ages of 4-17 who participates in the Greenateering Adventure to better understand how being green conserves energy, reduces pollution and saves money," said Alice Smith, Kennedy Space Center's Recycling and Sustainable Acquisition Program manager. "While environmentally friendly activities have been popular for many decades, being a Greenateer takes it to another level."

As Kennedy celebrates its 50th anniversary, the center has proven to be a leader in sustainability. The past five All-American Picnics have diverted more than 7 tons of picnic-related waste from local landfills.

The food and drinks will be served using plates, bowls, cups and utensils that are biodegradable and compostable. They're all made of corn, sugarcane or recycled paper and will become healthy new soil for the Earth in just a few months.

Smith said the plan this year is for the compostable waste to be ground up and buried at KARS Park 1, where it will feed plants and enrich the soil.

There will not be regular trash cans at this picnic, Smith said. Instead, six collection stations will be strategically placed around the park, with separate containers for different types of waste. Helpers and signs at each station will make it easy for everyone to put waste in the right place. A mobile mechanical grinding unit from SOMAT Waste Reduction Technology will be on site to pulp all of the waste material prior to onsite processing.

Fans of corn on the cob can rest assured those leftover cobs won't be heading to a landfill, either. The cobs will be collected in special containers around the park and a local farmer will take them to feed his animals. At last year's picnic, more than 800 pounds of corn cobs were collected.

This year's greening effort is being coordinated by Center Operation's Environmental Management Branch. Primary sustainability support is being provided by United Space Alliance, Innovative Health Applications and URS Corp.

Frank Ochoa-Gonzales
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center