Giving back


Courtesy of Waste Advantage Magazine

What are the CRRA Trash Museum and the CRRA Garbage Museum and where are they located?: The CRRA (Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority) Trash Museum, adjacent to a regional recycling processing center in Hartford, CT, opened in 1993 as a means of promoting curbside recycling, which had just been introduced in Connecticut. CRRA has operated the Trash Museum since its inception, and through March 2011 more than 387,000 people have participated in its educational programs, either by coming to the museum or our bringing programs to them at schools, community events and other activities

The CRRA Garbage Museum, adjacent to a regional recycling processing center in Stratford, CT opened in 1995 as an outgrowth of the region’s educational efforts. Beginning in 1993, tours of the recycling processing center were offered, but as they grew more popular, educational exhibits were added in office space adjacent to the processing center. CRRA took over operation of the Garbage Museum in 1997. Through March 2011, more than 342,000 people have taken part in its educational programs. Each museum is staffed by three educators, with the CRRA education supervisor managing both facilities.

What can visitors expect to find at both museums?: The CRRA Trash Museum and the CRRA Garbage Museum are similar in theme and purpose, but each has its own unique exhibits. The main attraction at the CRRA Garbage Museum is Trash-o-saurus, a dinosaur made from a ton of trash, which is how much trash an average person throws away in a year. Guests can walk through a giant compost pile, meet resident compost worms and discover how much energy is saved just by recycling. The museum also offers a skybox view of recyclables being delivered, sorted and processed at the adjacent recycling processing center. Its art gallery frequently displays the works of professional artists whose media are recycled, re-used and “found” objects.

The CRRA Trash Museum also gives visitors an up-close look at CRRA’s single-stream recycling sorting center. The museum also features exhibits detailing the problems of old-fashioned methods of disposal, such as the town dump, as well as current solutions, including explanations of source reduction, recycling, trash-to-energy and landfills. There’s also a mural created by Higganum, CT artist Ted Esselstyn, depicting the history of trash management from pre-historic times to today. Also on display is the amount of trash one person made in an entire year at Sustainable Dave’s exhibit ( The Trash Museum has just added a series of works created by University of Hartford students on climate change.

What kind of ongoing educational programs do the museums offer its visitors? Both museums offer special programs throughout the year, including Scout Days, Family Fun Days, Earth Day events and America Recycles Day. This year, on April 30, the Garbage Museum threw a birthday party for Trash-o-saurus, who turned 16. We can tailor our programs to people of all ages. All of our education programs are aligned with the Connecticut state science curriculum standards, so a trip to the Trash Museum or a visit from the Garbage Museum is more than just an hour or two away from the classroom. In fact, many school districts’ curricula specify a trip to one of our museums.

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