From Plastics to Produce: Eight New Community Projects Get Funding


Announcing the Winter 2024 Community Innovation Fund recipients!

This year, The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project is once again offering three opportunities to apply for the Community Innovation Fund (CIF). CIF provides funding to individuals, businesses, and community organizations throughout Deschutes County to pursue projects that reduce, reuse, recycle, or compost waste.

Since its inception in 2020, CIF has awarded more than $88,000 to 35 projects that reduce waste in Deschutes County. Thanks to support from our partners – Deschutes County Solid Waste, Visit Central Oregon, and the City of Bend, with additional support from Republic Services and Cascade Disposal – CIF can now fund up to $5,000 (with no minimum) for each project, with funding for 12 to 20 projects. The Environmental Center also provides support to help successfully plan, implement, and evaluate projects. Applications are now open through August 1st for the 2024 Summer round!

We are thrilled to announce the recipients of the Winter 2024 CIF! In addition to reading a few lines about each of the projects below, you might derive some inspiration by viewing all the innovative projects funded to date that have reduced waste and in many cases continue to have a long-lasting impact in our community through the interactive CIF Projects Showcase.

Bicycle Rides Northwest: Reusable Lending System

Bicycle Rides Northwest (BRNW) will establish a large-scale reusable mealware inventory that BRNW will own, manage and store, including 400+ plates, bowls, cups and utensils. BRNW can loan a portable commercial-grade dishwasher to established organizations and events on a case-by-case basis, and be used at the recipient’s facility to clean returned mealware from other borrowers. It’s estimated that an estimated 90,000 single-use mealware items will be saved. View Project Page.

Deschutes County Juvenile Detention Facility: Composting Center at the Peace Garden

The COIC Skills Lab will build a composting system at the Deschutes County Juvenile Department Peace Garden and process the food waste and use the compost in the garden on site. In addition, they will also create and deliver an eco-literacy curriculum, which will include composting education. View Project Page.

High Desert Food and Farm Alliance: Reusable Bag Initiative for Fresh Harvest Kit Program in Deschutes County

HDFFA will distribute Fresh Harvest Kits, their ready to eat meal kits, in reusable bags made from 100% recycled laminated PET material, diverting 3,300+ units of waste from the Knott Landfill. View Project Page.

SFF Presents: Landfill waste reduction, improved recycling and initiating composting

SFF Presents (organization behind Sisters Folk Festival, Big Ponderoo, year-round concerts, and more) will implement supervised recycling and food waste stations at outdoor events in 2024, with the goal of composting about 2,300 pounds of food waste and increasing recycling rates from 8% to 16%. Using Big Ponderoo as a learning opportunity with 5 stations, they will then expand to 10 stations at SFF venues. View Project Page.

Around the Bend Farms: Farm to Warm Springs

Around the Bend Farms will incorporate a cooling box to increase the longevity of the produce it delivers to recipients at Warm Springs Reservation through the VeggieRX grant administered by the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance. View Project Page.

Boundless Farmstead: Down with Plastic Bags

Boundless Farmstead will eliminate bagged greens from Farmers Market sales and Locavore sales. They will create an efficient and quick experience, display the greens in a way that is appealing and keeps them fresh, create educational materials to use before the growing season (for social media and newsletter) and to display at the farmers market booth and Locavore. View Project Page.

Rubbish Renewed: Walk our Talk Zero Waste Event Program

Rubbish Renewed Eco Fashion Show will expand their Walk our Talk Program, a self-contained, reusable system for 600. The lendable system is modeled in a one-night event saving thousands of disposable service ware from the landfill, and changing mindsets for a lifetime. Volunteers run the program with information to inspire use and replication of this lendable system for other events. It provides service/sorting/waste reduction ware, signage, educational materials and guide to create and promote a successful zero waste event, including partnering with: local garbage service; event venue host; food and beverage vendors; with clear signage and volunteer roles for facilitation. View Project Page.

High Desert ESD: Increase Your Water Intake!

High Desert ESD will provide Juntos Aprendemos summer program participants with reusable water bottles. Juntos Aprendemos, which serves families with children who are 3-5 years of age, will reduce the amount of plastic bottles purchased for approximately 50-60 families over 8 summer programs within Bend, Redmond, Madras and Sisters. View Project Page.

Do you have an idea for reducing waste in your neighborhood, workplace, school, your favorite park or restaurant, or other community space, and would like some support getting your idea off the ground? Apply for the Rethink Waste Community Innovation Fund to receive project support and funding! The next application deadline is August 1, 2024. Learn more and apply at! Questions? Contact

The Community Innovation Fund is a program of The Environmental Center’s Rethink Waste Project in partnership with Deschutes County Solid Waste, Visit Central Oregon, and the City of Bend, with additional support from Republic Services and Cascade Disposal. The Rethink Waste Project envisions a community that understands the upstream and downstream impacts of using Earth’s resources and makes responsible decisions about the consumption, use, and disposal of materials.