We first turned our attention to food waste in 1996 when Recology implemented a food scraps collection program in San Francisco. Still in use today, the green bin program ensures that organic material, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, do not end up in landfills. Many other Recology companies and cities have implemented similar programs, including San Mateo County and San Bruno. You can learn more about the affects of landfilling organics here: US Composting Council – Keeping Organics out of Landfills.
Although we think it’s important to recycle food scraps when possible, we think it’s just as important to consider ways to reduce food waste altogether.
Americans throw away 40% of their food, according to The National Resources Defense Council.
The environmental impact of wasted food is fairly large. Imagine the amount of energy, oil, and water is used to produce and transport food across the United States, from farms to cities, and from cities to rural areas.
By preventing food from even entering a bin, we significantly reduce financial and environmental impacts. Here are a few small, but impactful tips for reducing your food waste.
- Plan your meals, buy what you need – There’s a fine line between purchasing enough food and buying too much. Planning your meals for the week will help you stick to a plan, meaning you’re less likely to toss expired food.
- Learn more about expiration dates – Foods that are edible after the marked expiration date is surprising. The use-by dates don’t always indicate spoiled food, but then again it’s good to know which foods are more sensitive to these dates than others.
- Freeze unused food – Utilize your freezer. If you’re unable to finish the pot pie you made last night, freeze portions for quick lunches and dinners.
- Take your lunch or share your leftovers– Using leftovers for meals at work is the best way to use excess food. Pack leftovers in your kids’ lunch, or share with coworkers, family, or friends if you know you’re not going to finish it.
- Proper storage – Learn how to store fruit and vegetables. It’s important to keep pre-cut and chopped produce in the refrigerator in sealed containers.
Recology Western Oregon Partners with Local Veteran to Restore and Donate Thousands of Bicycles in Yamhill County
Three years ago, Dean Williams, a retired Vietnam Veteran from Amity, OR, noticed a few perfectly good bikes on a pile of scrap metal at a nearby waste facility. At the time, his granddaughter’s bike was recently stolen, so he went in to ask about purchasing one.
From that day on, Dean has been dedicated to refurbishing and donating bikes to local schools, probation departments, the Yamhill County Action Partnership (YCAP), police departments, church groups, and other local community organizations. Many of the donated bikes are the primary mode of transportation for recipients, members of the community who do not have access to a vehicle use the bikes to commute to work or school.
By early 2014, Dean’s project had become so successful, he’d run into a problem: his home’s driveway was full of salvaged parts, and he needed more tools and resources to continue his project.
Recology Western Oregon (RWO) decided to help. Dean’s project embraces RWO’s mission to achieve “Waste Zero” by finding a new life for previously discarded materials. It also provides a sustainable form of transportation for local children and families in need.
To help Dean’s project grow, RWO established a new Bike Shop at the RWO Valley Recovery Zone in McMinnville, OR. Dean has been provided with tools, storage space, and access to discarded bike parts at the facility. Even the shop’s benches and tables carry a message of sustainability – Dean salvaged lumber from RWO wood piles to build the work benches.
The shop is also serves as an education center where members of the community can learn basic bike maintenance and repair. Dean and RWO hope to educate the public on the importance of reuse and recycle, ensuring fewer resources end up in the scrap pile.
Dean has repaired and donated over 1,600 bikes as of May 2014, and with the help of RWO, his mission continues to expand. A box of bikes is currently being prepared for shipment to Africa, and Dean also plans to expand his collection efforts to other Recology operations along the Oregon Coast and Washington State.
Dean’s story began as one person’s passion to turn trash into treasure; today, it’s become a model reuse and recycle program. If you’d like more information or would like to get involved in the project, please stop by the “Bike Shop” at RWO’s Valley Recovery Zone, or send an email to email@example.com.
In honor of International Compost Awareness Week (May 5 – 11), an initiative created by the US Composting Council, we’re sharing our thoughts on this years focus: “Compost: The Solution to Sustainable Soil and Water.”
The traditional reasons to participate in a curbside compost program are to keep materials out of landfills and to return nutrients, in the form of compost, to local farms and vineyards. Those nutrients give farmers a viable alternative to using synthetic fertilizers and help farmers grow healthy food that comes back to the city to support our good health.
But there is a third great reason to compost: It helps California, our home state, save water – tremendous amounts of water.
Compost is 50 percent humus by weight. Humus is organic matter that helps soil retain moisture. Humus is a form of carbon; it both attracts and holds water. When we apply compost to an orchard, farm, or vineyard, we increase the amount of humus in the farm’s soil, and thereby increase the capacity of the soil to withstand drought conditions.
Farmers like to apply compost because doing so helps their soil and their crops get the full benefit of any rain or irrigation. This is particularly important for orchards, which require a lot of irrigation.
Here is a key statistic: If we increase organic matter by one percent on one acre of land by adding compost and by farming environmentally, we can save 16,500 gallons of water per year. Imagine how much water we could save if every city in California participated in a compost collection programs, sending a lot more compost to local farms.
Knowing that composting is a highly effective way to help California save water, many Recology employee-owners have an increased motive to participate in Recology’s green-bin programs. We are doing a good job of composting scraps and plant cuttings in many areas like San Francisco, but we can do much better. What can an individual do on a daily basis to help? Place all food scraps and plant cuttings in the green bin for curbside collection. Also, we can place all food-soiled paper, things like used paper napkins and towels, in the green bin (soiled paper has short fibers – microorganisms in compost like short paper fibers). Soiled paper in a kitchen compost pail or curbside compost bin will also absorb moisture, which will help control odor.
Recology set the trend when we started an urban compost collection program in San Francisco in 1996 to reduce landfill disposal and turn food scraps into compost. Now we can help our state save great amounts of water by extending our good green habit and composting all of our scraps, plant cuttings, and soiled paper.
Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Matthew Gottschalk, Jamil Hellu and Claire Lynch
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Matthew Gottschalk, Jamil Hellu, and student artist Claire Lynch on Friday, May 23, from 5-9pm and Saturday, May 24, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, May 27, from 5-7pm, followed by a gallery walk-through with the artists at 7pm. This exhibition will be the culmination of four months of work by the artists who have scavenged materials from the dump to make art and promote recycling and reuse.
Matthew Gottschalk: From the Belly of the Whale
Matthew Gottschalk has looked to explorers such as Jacques Cousteau and Carl Sagan for inspiration while on his own epic adventure at the dump. Gottschalk, who in the past has used marionette puppets as protagonists in installations that include sculpture and video components, has crafted a Carl Sagan puppet to explore the cosmos of the Recology facility. Through the use of touchstones of popular culture—and an ever-engaging marionette—Gottschalk brings playfulness to deeper questions of what it means to be human.
Work alludes to Joseph Campbell’s concepts of the “hero’s journey” and universal myths, as well as to the primal human need to bring order and meaning to the world around us through such stories. Gottschalk also references the dangers and mysteries of space and oceanographic exploration; his series of harpoons made from materials including baseball bats and fireplace pokers suggest conquest and being “in the belly of the whale”—both literally and metaphorically—connecting to his own process of hunting for materials in the Public Disposal and Recycling Area. Much like the real Carl Sagan’s “Golden Record,” a collection of audio recordings and photographs representing aspects of life on earth sent into space with the hope that it might one day be found, Gottschalk’s marionette Carl Sagan has collected the evidence of life on earth through its detritus so that we may better know ourselves. Gottschalk will also create a soundtrack for the journey played on revived and newly created musical instruments.
Gottschalk holds an MFA from Mills College, a BA in studio art from the University of California at Davis, and has studied at Yale. He was the recipient of a fellowship at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany, and he has exhibited his artwork and videos in Nevada City, California; Stuttgart and Kassel, Germany; Gaza, Palestine; and Rijeka, Croatia.
Jamil Hellu: Portraits
The images photographer Jamil Hellu has made during his Recology residency explore a range of ideas related to identity and portraiture. Examining how we create and negotiate our identities throughout our lives, Hellu looks at our memories via objects, and contemplates the pivotal influences that shape who we are. The work questions the shifting nature of identity and the many roles we play in our personal and professional lives. In some cases, Hellu places the things he has photographed alongside their images and brings poignancy to mundane yet once cherished items. He also replicates scenes in found photographs that are simultaneously humorous and touching, pointing to commonalities between seemingly different people.
Work also explores identity in crisis and what it means to dispose of key markers of identity in a place like the public dump. If throwing away things, especially photographs, is a metaphor for the loss of individual identity, then the dump pile, becomes a homogenous monument to general human experience. Illustrating this is Hellu’s shredded pile of one-hundred snapshots of people at the Golden Gate Bridge—both a permanent erasure of these specific memories and an evocation of the universal significance this destination holds in people’s lives. Other photographs expand on this Bay Area and California love, as well as a love of photography itself.
Born in Brazil, Hellu received an MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. He has been a recipient of a Graduate Student Fellowship from the Headlands Center for the Arts and received a residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. His recent series of photographs, Guardians of the Golden Gate, which capture friends in superhero guises of their own choosing in locations around the Bay Area, has been the subject of national media coverage.
Claire Lynch: Befriending Demons
In a series of large-scale, abstract, sculptural bird forms, Claire Lynch explores difficult human emotions and how we negotiate and deal with these feelings. Of particular interest to Lynch are feelings such as tension, anger, or discomfort—emotions universally experienced, yet often condemned as socially unacceptable to express. Lynch explores the role these emotions have in shaping who we are, and how sometimes the things that are the most difficult to navigate provide space for the greatest growth. Four sculptures each address different responses to these emotions and represent concealment, routine, balance, and embrace. Together they point to the need to acknowledge and understand the place these feelings have in our lives.
Claire Lynch will receive her BA in studio art from Stanford University this June. She has taught art at the American Overseas School of Rome Summer Program in Italy, and at the Potomac School Summer Program in McLean, Virginia. While a student at Stanford, Lynch has worked as an assistant at the Stanford University Art Gallery, and as a fabricator.
About the Recology Artist in Residence Program
Since 1990, the Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco has encouraged the conservation of natural resources while instilling a greater appreciation for art and the environment in children and adults. This one-of-a-kind program enables artists to work in studio space on site for four months, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public about reuse and their residency experiences. Over one-hundred professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.
Reception- Friday, May 23, 2014, 5-9pm
Reception-Saturday, May 24, 2014, 1-3pm
Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, May 27, 2014, 5-7pm with gallery walk-through with artists at 7pm
Art Studio located at 503 Tunnel Ave. and Environmental Learning Center Gallery at 401 Tunnel Ave., San Francisco, CA
Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible. http://www.recologysf.com/AIR
Unwanted or worn out clothes and other textiles, such as fabrics woven from thread or yarn, can be recycled through Recology’s RecycleMyJunk program. SF Residents can call (415) 330-1300 to schedule a pickup or email us through the “contact us” form on our website, RecycleMyJunk.com.
Our textile recycling program also accepts backpacks, purses, belts, and shoes. Recology will take all textiles, even if torn or ripped, as long as they are dry. When placing textiles by the curb for your scheduled pickup, please bundle them with string or place them in a box or bag clearly labeled “Textiles.”
RecycleMyJunk is an appointment-based program and part of the collection services we provide in San Francisco under City oversight. To view program rules go to RecycleMyJunk.com. Residential customers can now include boxes and bundles of textiles without them counting toward the per-collection item limit. Residential customers can also request “Textile Only” collections at no additional charge.
Recology donates textiles collected through the RecycleMyJunk program to St. Vincent de Paul Society, who sorts and re-purposes the materials.
Five years ago, on April 27, 2009, Norcal Waste Systems was rebranded as Recology. Why the name change? Well, it’s because the new name more accurately reflects who we are today and where we see ourselves in the future.
The company’s new name is deeply rooted in its heritage dating back over 90 years ago as one of the nation’s first urban recyclers. Recology, with its name clearly associated with the words recycling, renewal, reuse and reduction, intends to lead the evolution of the industry by eliminating waste from the vocabulary of consumers and municipalities alike.
Our name, Recology, continues to support our vision to see a world without waste and to follow our mission to build exceptional resource ecosystems in the communities we serve.
Mike Sangiacomo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Recology, explained the company’s re-branding best five years ago:
“Our industry is no longer about waste management – it is about waste zero. Our new name, Recology, will help move us away from the mentality of disposal as a mandate, to use less of what we have, and get more from what we use.”
Recology has lived up to the name. We’ve hit some exciting milestones in the past five years:
- On October 5, 2012, Recology and the City of San Francisco achieved an 80% diversion rate – the highest in the nation. Residents of San Francisco sent 367,300 tons of garbage to landfill in 2011, compared to 730,000 tons in 2000 – a 49.7% reduction.For more information on San Francisco’s recycling and diversion programs, view the documentary Recycling in America’s Greenest City.
- Recology’s high-quality customer service and innovative diversion programs have reached a growing number of communities in the last five years. In 2009, Recology served 50 communities across California. Today, Recology partners with 116 communities in California, Oregon, and Washington.Recology works closely with the communities it serves to find effective ways to increase diversion. When Recology assumed service for the 12 jurisdictions of the South Bayside Waste Management Authority (which includes the City of San Mateo) in 2011, the overall diversion rate rose from 56% to 66% in the first year.
- In November 2011, Recology and the City of San Francisco reached one million tons of compost through the curbside compost collection program (green bin). This is equivalent to offsetting emissions from traffic on the Bay Bridge for more than two years.Recology started collecting food scraps and yard trimmings for composting in 1996. Today, over 200 vineyards in Napa and Sonoma use Recology compost.
- Recology was honored to receive the 2013 ESOP Company of the Year Award for the California/Western States Chapter of the ESOP Association. Recology is a 100% employee-owned company through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
Recology remains at the forefront of new sustainability programs. Today, Recology is piloting waste-to-energy projects, implementing state-of-the-art recycling and composting technologies, and finding new efficiencies for its collection services. We can’t wait to see what we’ll achieve together in the next five years!
Recology San Mateo County invites you to participate in our Earth Day Giveaway on Facebook. As we gear up for Earth Day on April 22nd, we’re asking San Mateo County residents and businesses to share their tips, photos, or videos that illustrate how they are “going green” this Earth Week.
How to enter:
- “Like” Recology San Mateo County on Facebook.
- Share a green tip, photo, or video on our Facebook page using the hash tag #EarthDay2014 by 10 am on Tuesday, April 22nd to be eligible for the giveaway.
- Share your entry with friends!
Winners will receive a $50 Whole Foods gift card and earth-friendly goodies, including garden-ready herbs, compost, reusable water bottle and bag. Winners will be chosen by number of likes, shares, and Recology staff votes. The winner will be announced on our Facebook page on April 22nd, Earth Day!
How will you celebrate Earth Day? #EarthDay2014
Terms and Conditions:
- Must be 18 years or older to participate, and be a resident or employee in San Mateo County. Recology employee-owners are not eligible to enter, however friends and family of employee-owners are encouraged to participate.
- By entering this contest, you agree to a complete release of Facebook from any or all liability in connection with this giveaway. All entries then become the property of Recology Inc.
- The RSMC Earth Day Giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
2014 marks the 17th year of the Recology Yuba-Sutter Invitational golf tournament. By the time the last putt drops, Recology Yuba-Sutter will have raised almost $1/2 million dollars for our community.
From 1998 – 2011, the support provided grad night parties for eight area high schools. These parties provide a safe environment for high school students to celebrate graduating before moving on to the next stage of their lives. In 2011, when school budget cuts hit Shady Creek’s Outdoor Education program, Recology Yuba-Sutter stepped up with a 4-year commitment to the program to send students to a week-long environmental camp.
The Recology Invitational has been our signature event for almost two decades. Our employee owners are proud of what we’ve accomplished with the funds raised. As our community continues to grow, so does the Recology vision – to continue serving the needs of our region. This year’s tournament will be our last golf fundraising event as we now turn our attention and future efforts toward even bigger and better ways to support our community.
17 Years of Yuba-Sutter Golf:
16 Golf Events
82,880 raffle tickets
1 million thank you’s
Would you like to play?
Golf Entry is $125 (includes golf, lunch and dinner)
Plumas Lake Country Club
Four Person Scramble, Shotgun start at Noon
Lunch served from 10:30-11:45am
Dinner follows golf, 5:30
To RSVP or for more info contact: Jackie Sillman
Recology compost programs are designed to return nutrients back to our soils, and essentially back to our dining tables. Composting turns food scraps and yard trimmings into useful materials; the best and highest use of natural resources.
- Compost is a viable alternative to chemical fertilizers because it adds many nutrients to soil and doesn’t pollute groundwater, wells, or waterways.
- Composting keeps organic waste out of landfills, which supports more efficient land use and reduces methane gas emissions, a greenhouse gas.
- Compost sequesters carbon deep in the soil, which helps maintain essential nutrients in soil. This is especially useful when compost is used to grow cover crops, like mustard or beans.
- Compost promotes healthy microbial activity in soil, which makes micronutrients available to plant roots and discourages soil diseases.
- Compost improves soil structure, thereby protecting topsoil from erosion.
- Soils fed with compost retain far more rainwater, conserving our water resources.
- Compost helps grow plants and food crops that are rich with nutrients needed to sustain good health.
- Composting is easy and fulfilling!
- Compost collection programs return nutrients to local farms and support green jobs.
- Farms that utilize compost achieve higher yields than conventional farming that uses nitrogen fertilizers. This means farms produce more organic fruits and vegetables to support your good health.
- Composting reverses the course of waste from decay to new growth, turning coffee grounds, cantaloupe skins, and chicken bones into sweet carrots, juicy tomatoes, and fine wines.
- Composting helps our cities get closer to achieving zero waste.
- Composting helps California save tremendous amounts of water.
Litterati: Using Technology to Clean the Planet
Exhibition - March 26 to May 9 (gallery hours: Tuesdays 1-3pm, and by appointment)
Reception – Friday, April 25, 5-8pm (with talk by Beth Terry at 7pm
Where: Environmental Learning Center, 401 Tunnel Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible.
From March 26 to May 9, Litterati: Using Technology to Clean the Planet, will be on view at the Recology Environmental Learning Center. Sponsored by the Recology Artist in Residence Program, this exhibition features photographs from Litterati, a movement that encourages the public to document litter using the photo-sharing service Instagram, and then properly dispose of the trash. Since its inception in 2012, more than 40,000 pieces of litter have been photographed, cataloged, and properly discarded. The exhibition will feature photographs from locations around the world, demonstrating this innovative use of social media to address environmental issues and initiate positive change.
Litterati was created by Jeff Kirschner, after his family went for a walk in the Oakland hills and encountered a plastic tub of kitty litter dumped in a stream. His 4-year-old daughter—baffled by what she saw—exclaimed, “Daddy, that doesn’t go there!” which prompted Kirschner to think more deeply about what he could do to leave a more environmentally stable planet for his children. Drawing on his background in start-up technology, Kirschner envisioned a way to engage and inspire individuals to take action whenever they could, wherever they were. The instructions are simple: photograph litter using Instagram, add the hashtag #litterati, and recycle, compost, or throw away the litter. Says Kirschner, “individually, one can make a difference. Together, we can create an impact.”
The idea is also to stop litter before it starts, and images of cigarette butts and fast food containers are a stark reminder of the need for new strategies for reaching the public who still casually discard such items. Outreach to manufacturers is also part of the plan. Through keyword tags, the project documents the products and brands that generate the most litter, enabling Litterati to work with producers on sustainable solutions.
Images in the exhibition reflect both the range of what has been discarded and the diverse locations materials were found. Photographs were taken across the United States, as well as around the world, including in Austria, Thailand, and the US Virgin Islands. The photographers have been invited to add their own thoughts about the photos they took, and responses will accompany images in the exhibition.
A public exhibition will be held on Friday, April 25, from 5 to 8pm, coinciding with Earth Week. Gallery hours are Tuesdays, 1-3pm and by appointment. In conjunction with the exhibition reception, author Beth Terry will speak at 7pm. Terry is the author of Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too and the blog, My Plastic Free Life. Begun in 2007, after Terry read about the crisis of plastics in the ocean and committing to eliminate plastics from her life, the blog is now a widely read and respected resource. Terry combines useful information about plastic-free alternatives with personal stories, and has become a leader in the crusade against the overconsumption of plastics. Copies of her book will be available for sale/signing.
About the Recology Artist in Residence Program Since 1990, the Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco has encouraged the conservation of natural resources while instilling a greater appreciation for art and the environment in children and adults. This one-of-a-kind program enables artists to work in studio space on site for four months, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public about reuse and their residency experiences. Over one-hundred professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.