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Tanglewood, Lincolnville - Sustainability at Tanglewood


Tanglewood’s mission is to teach Maine youth and adults to be effective and caring citizens of the earth through affordable environmental education and nature-based experiences.  Tanglewood’s vision is to create a place where people learn to live responsibly and in balance with the earth.  It encourages reflection and respect, while inspiring change within ourselves and our communities.

Since its inception, Tanglewood has been a place where children and adults could come to and learn how to better care for the earth.  The mission and vision of Tanglewood are rooted in the firm belief that making connections to nature and each other as a community will foster a deep understanding of how to live responsibly and in balance with the earth.

‘To live responsibly and in balance with the earth’ is what Tanglewood is all about, and Tanglewood strives to strike balance with the earth through a sustainable lifestyle.

But what is sustainability?

Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute defines a sustainable society as “one that satisfies its needs without diminishing the prospects of future generations.”  Great.  But how does Tanglewood strive to be a model of sustainability?

Historically, Tanglewood has emphasized sustainable concepts through its programming.  Campers learn about the details of ecosystems and basic ecological principles that guide them to understand that everything in nature is connected, even themselves.

Campers and staff are encouraged to think outside the box and push Tanglewood toward becoming a more sustainable community.  Many initiatives that have been adopted have come from staff and campers.  What new ideas do you have?  We would love to hear them!

Here are some of our sustainability highlights:

Local Food…Tanglewood’s Garden.

  • Tanglewood has a large organic garden 2 miles from main camp, and many other raised beds and herb gardens within camp
  • In 2011, 1028 pounds of produce came out of Tanglewood’s camp gardens with a market value of $3221
  • 150 pounds of produce were donated
  • Campers bike to the garden during program time rather than driving a camp vehicle

Local food… teaching healthy, sustainable eating habits

  • In Tanglewood’s dining hall we have a “food miles” chart
  • Tanglewood tracks how far our food had to travel to make it to our tables
  • Tanglewood strives to buy our food from as many Maine and New England providers as possible
  • Our staff emphasizing trying a little bit of new foods… who knew kale chips were so delicious?

Reducing trash:

  • In 2002 Tanglewood switched to a pay-per-bag trash program.   After the first year we saw:
  • A reduction of 50%, with 40-50% less volume dump weight.
  • Bags are purchased in bulk costing $200 per box of 200 bags.
  • One box lasts 15 month
  • Increased in consciousness about what is and isn’t trash

Measuring Waste, Creating Compost

  • Food waste is the food leftover on our plates that was not eaten and cannot be returned to the kitchen.
  • Food waste is measured in cups on the waste-o-meter to track our progress throughout the week
  • Most food waste can be turned into compost which turns energy in food waste, peels, eggshells, etc. into healthy soil for planting gardens
  • We use worm bins to show decomposition in action

Garbology: the study of garbage

  • In 2005 Leadership 2 campers created the Garbology Trail (AKA The Everything Goes Somewhere Trail) a trail designed to teach about garbage
  • Items were buried and labeled along the trail to show how long it takes things to decompose.

Taking recycling to a new level

  • Tanglewood chooses what product is used based on its reuse and recyclability
  • Our recycling shed is organized and easy to use.
  • Many materials are reused in art projects

Chickens and goats, oh my!

  • Campers take part in caring for Tanglewood’s goats and chickens
  • Eggs from chickens make their way into our dining hall
  • Opportunities for education on what “free range” and “organic” means

In 2011 Tangled Tuesdays began as a day to celebrate all things sustainable and green

  • All electives are “green”–activities relating to the environment, culture, or skill building
  • Mealtime skits and songs keep us informed about what’s going on around camp, or teach us a new concept relating to sustainability
  • Evening programs have a sustainability theme–ranging from adventure nights to Recycle Fashion Shows

Environmentally conscious and safe cleaning products

  • Our cleaning and sanitizing solution is EPA Registered, USDA Biopreferred
  • Toilet paper made from 100% recovered paper fiber and 20% post-consumer materials

Greener Bathrooms

  • Radiant floor heating and air vents for natural air circulation
  • Water reduction with low-flow water toilets and shower heads with adjustable water flow
  • Skylights and windows to maximize natural light and energy efficient lighting for evening hours


  • Energy efficient washer using 14 gallons of water per load, saving 67% over normal washer
  • On-demand hot water heater that only heats water when needed
  • Clothes lines utilized for air-drying

Sustainability built into all Tanglewood’s programming

  • From the Art focus to the Outdoor Living focus, we intertwine sustainability education
  • Teaching self-sufficiency skills such as fire building, cooking, and knitting
  • Educational and interpretive signs posted around camp

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