Go Zero Waste with Recology for Earth Day!
As part of our continued work to move the communities we serve closer to sending nothing to the landfill, Recology would like to invite people around the world to join us in going zero waste for Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd.
What does zero waste on Earth Day mean?
On Earth Day, many Recology staff will try to not sending anything to the landfill for one day – meaning only using and discarding items that are recyclable or compostable. Take your lunch in reusable containers instead of single use packaging, or only buy lunch in containers that are compostable and recyclable.
Document your experience.
As part of going Zero Waste for Earth Day, we’d like to hear about your experience in trying to send nothing to landfill for a day. Document your day with photos, videos, a blog post, or any other way you’d like! After Earth Day, we’ll compile all of the thoughts and media we received into a blog post, to be posted at blog.recology.com.
Some ideas for what to document:
- What was difficult about going for zero waste?
- What did you find yourself having to avoid that you normally would have taken or bought?
- Did trying to go zero waste for a day change how you think about purchases, waste, or recycling?
Any and all thoughts and ideas are welcome – we’re looking forward to hearing from you!
The Great Compost Giveaway
5 Gallons Free
Saturday, April 6, 2013
8am – Noon
Bring Your Own Bucket!
THANKS FOR MAKING SAN FRANCISCO A LITTLE GREENER.
San Francisco is now 80 percent of the way to Zero Waste thanks to the recycling and composting you do every day.
In appreciation of your efforts, Recology is giving away 5 to 10 gallons of a gourmet planting mix made from food scraps and plant trimmings composted by San Franciscans.
Join us at one of the following locations to pick up your free compost!
— Amphitheater Parking Lot
John F. Shelley Dr. at Mansell St.
850 Great Highway between Lincoln Way and Fulton St.
900 7th Street at Berry St. (enter on Berry St.)
To register, visit: recology.eventbrite.com.
THIS IS A BRING YOUR OWN BUCKET EVENT!
The Great Compost Giveaway is an annual event hosted by Recology, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and the San Francisco Department of the Environment all working towards Zero Waste by 2020.
Guest Blogger Robert Reed is the public relations manager for the Recology operating companies in San Francisco. Robert lives in San Francisco with his daughter August and their Boston Terrier Peanut, a.k.a. Cacahuète. This article appeared in Waste & Recycling News as a Guest View on March 4, 2013.
It is just as easy to put your coffee grounds in a compost collection bin, if your city permits, as it is to throw them in the trash. This simple act benefits the environment in multiple ways, is literally changing our industry, and, most importantly, supports the good health of you and your family members.
I know a bit about nutrition, but I cannot name one food that offers 10 health benefits. Yet I can easily list 10 benefits achieved through composting. Here are just a few: Compost returns nutrients and carbon to the soil, gives farmers a viable alternative to using liquid (or chemical) fertilizers, retains rainwater allowing farms to reduce irrigation and energy usage, and softens soil so plant’ roots can travel further and reach more nutrients.
Compost, particularly compost made from food scraps, is rich in nutrients because it is made from a diverse feedstock. In San Francisco’s urban compost collection program that feedstock includes leftover takeout from Chinese restaurants, pasta from North Beach, and, yes, coffee grounds from the many coffee shops across the city.
Compost made from food scraps stimulates microbial activity, which brings new life to soil. To help people better understand why that is important we publish an ad showing an apple core falling into a compost collection (green) bin. The headline on the ad says “Feed the soil. It feeds us.”
Recology, San Francisco’s homegrown recycling company, started collecting food scraps for composting in 1996. The city instructed us to roll the program out citywide in 2001. Customer participation was voluntary. In 2009 the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring “all properties” to participate, and today Recology collects 600 tons of food scraps and plants a day for composting.
Many cities and hundreds of universities have added food scrap compost collection programs, and the movement, for the reasons stated above and others, is gaining great momentum. The Washington Post told the story within the story on Feb. 3rd in their report titled “Composting efforts gain traction across the United States.”
Writer Juliet Eilperlin reported:
Environmentally minded city leaders have adopted “zero-waste” pledges, noting that traditional trash disposal not only wastes material that can enrich soil but accelerates climate change. Organic matter decomposing in landfills accounts for 16.2 percent of the nation’s emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts are all phasing in bans on putting commercial food waste in landfills.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves and really get after it. The EPA reports that Americans generate approximately 35 million tons of food scraps annually and of that total only 3 percent makes it back to the farm. The vast majority goes to landfills or incinerators.
Eilperlin insightfully noted these points: Major trash industry operators have sometimes fought government requirements to divert waste because they operate landfills. Many communities have contracts with waste incineration sites, making it harder to develop organic recycling sites. And the nation’s trash disposal system lacks the ability to process food waste on a large scale.
We need to permit more compost facilities and we need to utilize modern technology at those facilities. When we do that, more cities will be able to establish curbside compost collection programs and we will continue turning a negative (landfill emissions) into a positive (returning nutrients and carbon to local farms.)
Are people across the country really going to do this? On Feb. 13th, in his final state-of-the-city address, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, announced “This spring we’ll launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste from single family homes in Staten Island for composting. If it succeeds, we’ll develop a plan to take it citywide.”
This represents a major shift.
Some of the best minds in American agriculture sounded a call, in a book published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, asking large cities to establish food scrap compost collection programs to send nutrients back to farms. When was the book published? 1938.
It has taken 75 years, but cities are responding, and people like it. We are becoming keenly aware of our environmental challenges. Composting at the curb gives us a way to participate in a program every day that makes a positive difference.
Waste engineers report that typically between 40% and 60% of the material cities send to landfill could instead be composted.
“Trashed,” a new film hosted by Jeremy Irons, visits landfills around the world, discusses nano ash that escapes from incinerators, and highlights San Francisco’s compost collection program.
In December “Trashed” received a lot of attention from the New York media, and Irons was asked “What can we do?” His response: “Find out where your garbage goes.”
That’s what the French call “une bonne idée” (a good idea.) Here’s another one: If you are not already doing it, start today. Compost.
Last week, Time Magazine published an article that asked “What If the World’s Soil Runs Out?” The article highlighted the growing shortage of topsoil around the world due to unsustainable agricultural practices.
Topsoil is a living thing—it is the top 2 to 8 inches of soil where most of the microorganisms live and where plants put the majority of their roots. These microorganisms transform and recycle the topsoil material that they eat. We need them to make soil usable and livable for other organisms higher up on the food chain. They also are the tiny architects that structure soil so that it can retain moisture.
The article suggests that we have only about 60 years-worth of topsoil left. The reason is that most agricultural practices, even the ones practiced in European countries, strip the soil of carbon and nutrients. Soil is primarily eroded in three ways:
1. We take more carbon than we put back. Some fields are burnt after a harvest to clear them. Others are stripped to feed animals. In both cases, carbon is moved out of the growing cycle.
2. We misuse fertilizers. They provide nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and because plants will grow when these nutrients are available, we think that is all they need.
3. We also over-work the land through over-ploughing and over-grazing.
Through composting yard debris and food scraps, we add carbon and other key nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, back to the soil. Our efforts to return valuable nutrients and carbon to the soil are among the best examples of how to address the world’s soil nutrient shortage. You can learn more about the good things compost does for farmers, the environment and consumers in the WASTE ZERO section of Recology.com.
Visual journalist Bill Russell created a sketchbook with drawings and stories of the employees at Recology San Francisco, the WASTE ZERO facilities where we strive to recycle, reduce and re-use everything. During his time as an Artist in Residence, he captured the personalities and values that drive the people in that company to raise the standards of our industry.
Fortunately, we are not alone. In an Op-Ed this week, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee reminded us of the city’s sustainability initiatives, including the Green Building Ordinance which aims to reduce water and energy use and divert material from landfills. In collaboration with the city, Recology has made curbside recycling of food scraps normal in the U.S. We have also made sure that the resources we recover, like used paint, make it to the places that need them the most.
This Thursday, please join the employees of Recology in giving thanks for the planet we share by making sure your food scraps make it to a compost bin and your recyclables make it to the recycling bin.
You can purchase Bill Russell’s sketchbook here: http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1883097.
Urban farming and gardening is the talk of the town in San Francisco.
The office of the City Administrator will be hosting three town hall meetings to hear from you about the Urban Agriculture Ordinance. Here’s your chance to be part of the conversation!
DATES & TIMES
· The Ortega Branch Library Program Room (3223 Ortega Street) November 27 @ 6:00pm-8:00pm
· The SE Community Facility Alex Pitcher Room (1800 Oakdale Ave) November 29 @ 6:00pm-8:00pm
· The Veterans War Memorial Building (401 Van Ness Ave) December 8 @ 1:00pm-3:00pm
Questions? Contact the Urban Agriculture Fellow at the Office of the City Administrator: 415.554.4928
This Halloween, compost your pumpkins!
Don’t forget that residents and businesses in the Recology San Mateo County service area can have their Halloween pumpkins composted! It helps to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill and is better for the environment.
- Over 1 billion pumpkins are produced every year.
- Pumpkins are full of rich nutrients such as zinc, iron & phosphorus.
- Zinc, iron and phosphorus are a great source of nutrients for your garden (if you have your own composting pile at home).
- Pumpkins are not only fun to decorate but delicious and healthy to eat!
- The word pumpkin originated from the Greek word Pepon which means large melon.
After you have removed the candles and decorations, simply place the pumpkins in your green Compost Cart or bin and set it out on your regular collection day.
Learn more about the composting program on Recology San Mateo County’s website.
A National Record
This morning San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Lee announced that the city of San Francisco reached an 80% landfill waste diversion rate. The city holds the national recycling and compost rate record in North America. And that is no small feat. The city of St. Louis’ recycling rate increased fivefold this year, and that city now diverts just 10%.
We are especially proud. San Francisco’s programs include source reduction, reuse, and recycling and composting programs, which set the city apart from other major North American cities. These programs helped San Francisco receive a perfect score for resource recovery and recycling in the 2011 Siemens Green City Index.
In city’s press release says:
“Recycling and composting is not only good for our environment, it is also good for our economy,” said Mayor Lee. ”Recycling alone creates 10 times more jobs than simply sending refuse to the landfill, and I applaud Recology, the Department of Environment and San Franciscans for reaching this record milestone of 80 percent diversion.”
On the road to Zero Waste
The work is not easy or simple. While landfill disposal has decreased substantially, San Francisco residents, visitors and businesses still send 444 thousand tons of material to landfill each year.
Yet San Francisco is determined to achieve zero waste, not only an environmental, but also an economic goal.
David Chiu, a City Supervisor also supported our work and urged San Franciscans to do their part. He said, “I thank Recology and the Department of Environment staff who are reaching out and educating our residents and businesses to make sure they continue to recycle and compost our way to zero waste.” This weekend, all of the events taking place in the city include forward-thinking plans for recycling and composting.
You can read more of the press release here: http://www.sfmayor.org/index.aspx?page=846.
A big THANK YOU to all our Recology San Mateo County volunteers who cleaned up our Bay front and local creeks!
We were glad to spend some quality time with our friends and neighbors on last Saturday during the annual Fall Cleanup and California Coastal Cleanup Day.
This year we focused on removing debris from Redwood Creek, and parts of Brewster Avenue, Marshall Street, the Union Cemetery, Whipple Avenue, Winslow Street, Woodside Road, and other areas.
You can read more about the event here.
We also had a chance to close the loop by making compost available to the communities that put their food scraps and yard trimmings to good use by recycling them!
Guest blogger Carrie Gaydos is the Community Manager for VonChurch.com writes about an eye-opening trip to the San Francisco “dump.” VonChurch will be hosting Project Zero in Jan. 2013—a month-long commitment to create zero landfill-destined waste.
VonChurch, Inc., a San Francisco Green Business, is taking staff environmental education to heart. VonChurch is a recruiting firm working exclusively in the digital entertainment industry. Fueled by the passion to create and play, their culture is an elusive balance of focus and imagination. On August 17th, their “Work Hard | Play Harder” mindset and wild imagination lead them to a bizarre and unexpected place.
The Recology San Francisco transfer station is a piece of the on-going environmental initiatives in the city. A field trip there seemed to be in order. VonChurch staff wanted to look at the reality of San Francisco waste in the eye. The city of San Francisco has got a solid handle on resource recovery, wasting far less than the national average and creating nutrient-rich compost from food scraps and plant material for local farms and vineyards. VonChurch visited the facility to experience the truth behind what we toss out. A little dirt and grime-filled experiential learning experience, we hoped, would get staff to recycle, compost, waste less in the office, and to put a halt to bad habits and trashy behavior.
The two-hour tour consisted of a workshop on recycling and sustainability, a trip to the Art Studio to meet the current Artist in Residence at Recology San Francisco, a stop at the Household Hazard Waste facility, an unforgettable visit to the transfer station, a walk through the Sculpture Garden, and an enlightening video detailing the works of Recycle Central® at Pier 96.
It was an eye-opening experience. VonChurch employee, Nate Rhodes, described the tour as being “…really informative. I think it gave me a new perspective on how important it is to make an individual effort to compost, recycle, and to take the time to clean and deposit everything in its proper place. And the amount of effort it takes for Recology to operate for one day… fascinating stuff really.”
Another employee, Lisa Newton, went on to explain, “the SF Recology Center is a very interesting place. One-of-a-kind, to say the least! It’s home to one of the coolest art studios and gardens I have ever seen, while storing the smelliest and dirtiest trash I have ever been in contact with. Beyond the art exhibits, there are gorgeous falcons flying around, providing a humane form of seagull management. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would enjoy a dump as much as I enjoyed [Recology San Francisco’s transfer station].” We recommend the tour to any local business trying to educate and mobilize their staff to take action for the benefit of the environment.
VonChurch, Inc. is striving to work simpler and lighter on the planet; maintaining a compassionate, symbiotic relationship with the Earth is in their nature. After the tour, company CEO, Alex Churchill said, “I think this worked. I have noticed more people making the effort to compost and recycle.”
In January 2013, VonChurch will be undertaking an original program called, Project Zero, in which the collective staff will pledge to produce zero waste for the entire month.
It ain’t easy being green… but it is worth it.
VonChurch established and utilizes the VonEarth Committee to facilitate and organize mass, internal environmental initiatives and communication/environmental education. Their mission is:
To be mindful of the impact we have on the environment is a fundamental element of the VonChurch psyche. The VonEarth Committee was established to guide and unite VonChurch, to work simpler and lighter on the planet. Fueled by the passion to create and play, our culture is an elusive balance of focus and imagination. Maintaining a compassionate, symbiotic relationship with the Earth is in our nature.