The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is committed to demonstrating responsible natural resource conservation and sustainable practices through activities such as recycling, composting, water conservation initiatives, reducing our carbon footprint and reduction in single-use plastics.  

Here is a recent Science Cafe which discusses Executive Order 80

The Museum’s Greener Futures Committee identifies opportunities and takes action to find ways in which the Museum can ensure a greener future for the institution, the community and the world.  This includes “greening” the Museum’s current practices, educating staff about sustainability and educating the public about green actions they can adopt.

Since implimenting their new composting program their impact to date is:

  • 16,805 lbs. diverted from the landfill!
  • Methane avoided 2185 lbs.
  • CO₂ equivalent 43,692 lbs.
  • Equiv. miles not driven 95,461 miles
  • Equiv. cars parked for 2 wks 163 cars
  • 4,201 lbs. of compost created!


The Museum’s green practices include:


  • LEED Certification: 
    • The Nature Research Center is a LEED Platinum certified building, featuring: 
      • LED lighting
      • Skylights to reduce use of artificial light
      • Green Roof 
  • Lower-watt lighting used when applicable 
  • Comprehensive onsite recycling
  • All paper has recycled content
  • Back-of-house composting in Museum cafes and staff areas  
  • Front-of-house composting launching July 13, 2019 
  • Cafes converting to compostable packaging and products (straws, fruit cups, coffee cups, etc.) 
  • Reusable dishes and glasses for staff/meeting use 
  • Green cleaning products used by housekeeping in the Nature Research Center 
  • Reusable towels used when possible instead of paper towels or one-time use wipes 
  • Museum Gift Stores use paper bags instead of plastic 
  • Carpool to meetings whenever possible 
  • Office furniture and supplies obtained from State Surplus when available 


Exhibits Department:

  • Regularly reuse exhibit display components including boards, display cases, frames and aesthetic/sculptural components
  • Use 3D printing which employs a plant-based filament and eliminates waste stream for more traditional fabrication like molds and castings
  • All wide-format paper (5 types) is made with recycled fibers, is FSC certified, and is recycled after use
  • Printer uses eco-solvent inks, which are Greenguard and Gold-Certified for low VOC’s; Less ink is needed to cover large areas
  • Use less PVC-based board for short-term projects and are using new 100% paper-based (recyclable) rigid boards
  • All rigid board material is reused multiple times during its duration at the Museum 
    • Scraps are saved and eventually used for smaller labels and projects 
  • Create graphics at standardized sizes for maximum reuse and minimal scrap 


Research and Collections:

  • Reuse packing materials, formalin, alcohol and collection jars 
  • Repair damaged books 
  • Many specimens are donated from other Museums
  • Refurbish radios rather than purchasing new
  • Capture and recirculate water in mineral separator


Public Science Events and Volunteers 

  • All volunteer waste produced at public science events (like BugFest) is composted and recycled; zero waste is added to the landfill 
  • Volunteers are instructed to bring their own reusable water bottle to events
    •  A water bottle library is maintained, where bottles that have been left behind are sanitized for volunteers to use as needed 
  • Volunteer lunches and snacks are vegetarian, dramatically lessening the impact on the planet’s resources
  • Use only cloth table covers (Paper if an activity is messy)
  • Use pasta for coffee stirrers 
  • Almost 100% of printing (including thousands of volunteer schedules) is done on scrap paper 
  • Reuse name badge holders and language buttons
  • Partner with GoTriangle to encourage bus use for public events like BugFest 
  • BugFest vendors required to use compostable products as this will be a zero waste event 


Living Collections

  • Reuse water as appropriate
  • Internal composting and vermicomposting
  • Grow and manage feeder animals


Future Endeavors/Goals: 

  • Water bottle refilling stations offered throughout the Museum 
  • Add recycling bins to each floor of the Museum