How Prisons Nationwide Are Going Green


Inmates at Washington State’s Cedar Creek Corrections Center grew 8,000 pounds of organic vegetables this year, reports the Associated Press. They also raise bees, grow organic tomatoes and lettuce, compost 100 percent of food waste, and even recycle shoe scraps that are made into playground turf. “It reduces cost, reduces our damaging impact on the environment, engages inmates as students,” said Eldon Vail, secretary of the Washington Department of Corrections, which oversees 15 prisons and 18,000 offenders. “It’s good security.”

Prisons are voracious resource hogs, and administrators are under increasing pressure to reduce waste and conserve energy and water. In 2007, states spent more than $49 billion to feed, house, clothe, treat and supervise 2.3 million offenders, says the Pew Center on the States. To keep costs down, the Indiana Department of Corrections installed water boilers that run on waste wood chips, and built a wind turbine that saves $2,280 a year. At Ironwood prison in Blythe, Ca., 6,200 solar panels send energy back to the grid, enough to power 4,100 homes a year. North Carolina’s Department of Corrections switched to chemical-free cleaners and vegetable-based inks. This summer inmates converted 50-gallon pickle barrels into cisterns that capture rainwater


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