A Simple Resolution

Posted in Recology, San Francisco, Waste Reduction by darbyandjoan on January 18, 2011

In the dust covered years of my teens, I recall struggling each January to create goals and resolutions for the new year.  My father would sit me down with pen and paper and challenge me to create a goal and envision my success in each challenge laid out on the page.  With the absence of so many of life’s responsibilities and experiences, my mind often strained to manifest meaningful and tangible goals.   At the time, I was certain that I would forever loath the process.  It’s with many thanks that I can now look back and I say, as with so many opinions and certainties in youth, that I was wrong. 


Making resolutions and goals these years have been much easier and enjoyable.  The process has been shaped with age, with experience, the honing and development of self and the introduction and influence of loved ones brought into and lost from my life.  Simple questions like “How can I be a better partner, father or friend this year?” drive resolutions and goals.   “What can I do to be a better role model for my family?”  Recology and the communities we serve have helped to shape my first goal for 2011. 

This year my family and I have resolved to not purchase water bottled in plastic.  Billions of bottles are purchased and tossed each year.  Some places and people, due to geography, natural disasters or other influences, depend on bottled water to live.  That’s fair and good, but that is not our reality here in San Francisco, so we are respectfully bowing out of the market. 

The safety measures applied to our tap water have been well documented and persuasive enough to earn our participation.  If you live in San Francisco or the Bay Area, you probably get the same mailer on the Hetch Hetchy water source and the state of California’s water supply.  It’s a good read with a lot of useful information about one of our most precious resources.  There is an abundance of materials out there on the industry and the commodity drinking water has become.  If you too have an interest, check out your local library, search what’s posted online or poke around.  You might join in setting a similar simple resolution to reduce the plastics in your life.

Happy 2011 folks!

Man to SWIM through Pacific Garbage Patch

Posted in Events, Recology, Waste Reduction, Waste Streams, You Should Know... by darbyandjoan on February 7, 2010

There is a man out there that not only wants to swim the length of the Pacific Ocean but plans to chart his course directly through the North Pacific Gyre (also know as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch).  His swim is an attempt to bring attention to a place heavily polluted by our trash.

The North Pacific Gyre area is North of Hawaii where currents are converging ocean debris into a trash heap.  There are several of these floating garbage patches throughout the world and this one is roughly twice the size of Texas.  In the gyre is an accumulation of floating and slightly submerged plastics debris.  What kind of plastics?  You can guess the regulars: lighters, bottle caps, decomposed bits of things we buy and toss without a thought.  The scary stuff is the plastic that is so small we can’t even see it.  Millions of tiny plastic beads, some smaller than our eye can see–like those found in some shampoo and skin exfoliators–are drifting with the currents into this waste land.

In trying to bring attention to this ecological disaster, Richard Pain plans to swim 5,590 plus miles across the Pacific ocean and pass directly through the Pacific Garbage Patch.  He’ll swim within a towed, 6 meter capsule that will serve as a safety cage and estimates the journey will take 45 weeks to reach land.  This ambitious swim is reminiscent of a 2007 through swim of the Amazon river.  Martin Strel swam 3,274 miles down from the Peruvian mountains, through rainforests of Brazil and into the Atlantic.  The dramatic trip was a first complete swim of the Amazon river and much of the world watched.

This Pacific swim, if it happens, looks like another one that shall not be overlooked.  In the meantime, there are several other interesting projects under way to bring more light on the Gyres of the world.  Take a look online, search some key words like gyre, clean up, ocean and learn more about efforts are being made.  If you have an interest in some reading about the effect we have on our environment (i.e.: plastics in the ocean), check out The World Without Us by Alan Weisman.

Quick Home Compost Tip

Posted in Composting, How-to..., San Francisco by darbyandjoan on January 25, 2010

Source: Tiny Farm Blog

My family uses a small bin and stores it in the freezer. This keeps the decomposition of the compost to a minimum = no smell. We previously used empty ice cream jugs to store the compost and it works all the same.

If you are short on room in the freezer, take a good look at what you have in there. Chances are there is some food in there that should be tossed and additional space to be found with some focus on organizing.

Coffee anyone?

Posted in Diversion, Waste Reduction by darbyandjoan on December 22, 2009

A decent cup of coffee is something to enjoy.  A great cup of coffee is something to savor.  Mediocre, good or great, coffee is generally lousy when luke warm.  The vessel we chose to drink our beverage can make a world of difference so this blog is my pitch to try to get you to consider switching to a long term, reusable coffee container.

Disposable paper and styrofoam cups are easy, I know, but there are consequences for relying on a road of expediency.  Here are some stats on number of disposable cups tossed each day.  I’ll hyper link the sources so you can verify and/or gleam some additional info.

  • Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 styrofoam coffee cups every year.  What that means is that I threw away about 80 styrofoam cups this year.  That’s not necessary.
  • Americans’ consume more than 16,000,000,000 paper cups every year.  The vast majority of these cups are made from 100% bleached virgin paper.  The paper industry is estimating we’ll up our cup consumption to 23 billion in 2010!  Paper cup use in 2006 accounted for 4 billion gallons of water used, 6.5 million trees cut down, and 4,884 billion BTU’s of energy used.
  • It is estimated that paper cups accounted for 252 million pounds of garbage resting in landfills.  These cups break down and release CO2 and methane into the atmosphere causing substantial damage to our ozone layer and trapping green house gases.

The statistics suggest we move away from disposable cups and the benefits of shifting to a permanent cup are substantial as well.

  • Your drink stays hot for MUCH longer and is now portable (assuming you invest in a cup with a sealing lid).
  • Stainless steel does not influence flavor.
  • You are conveying a positive message in your decision to those around you.
  • Most coffee shops will discount your purchase when you bring your own cup.

With the new year fast approaching, please consider buying yourself, your loved ones and your coworker the holiday present that will keep on giving: a coffee thermos.  I spent $28 on mine (REI purchase) and have had it for over 2 years now.  I love my coffee cup and think you might too.

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Beat LA! Compost updates

Posted in Diversion, San Francisco by darbyandjoan on November 16, 2009

With the Giants missing post season play once again, I am relegated to dwell on the past and dream of 2010 glory and accolades.  The pitching seemed to outshine all other play.  Jonathan Sanchez threw a “perfect” no hitter, Zito had his most promising season to date as a Giant, Brad Penny lit a late fire on the mound and management survived another 6 month season.   We were missing bats to back up our arms, but all and all it was a solid season that I thoroughly enjoyed and know that we’ll have our time.  We’re building. 

The ball park looked good this year too. The gulls were on good behavior and the trash and recycling was well under control.  Management started announcing recycling efforts in the late innings and fans responded.  I read an entertaining article that reminded me of this.  Some stats:

  • LA has a diversion rate of 65%
  • San Francisco is at 72%
  • The national average is listed at 59% 

The same article discloses that LA does not formally recognize SF as a “major US city” and therefore claims to have the highest diversion rate in the US.  The subjective rationale for this assertion is addressed in the article and appropriately emphasizes that SF is leading the charge in trash diversion and reduction.   

Our recycling and composting efforts are being noticed nationwide as cities and communities push to reach mandated diversion percentages.  San Franciscans have embraced this necessary change and incorporated it into all facets of our local culture, including the ball games, and changed our standards of living for the better.   Recology has complimented this effort with the curbside organics collection, state of the art recycling facilities and a roll out of community based programs anchored on a “Zero Waste” target.  The successes of San Francisco’s efforts are reflected in the 72% measurement. 

Hats off to you SF for keeping this place as special as it is!  Let’s continue to push as a team towards maximum diversion and, of course, beat LA!



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