Congratulations Big Apple on Going Green!
Dozens of cities and hundreds of universities are following San Francisco’s lead and instituting urban compost collection programs. Most of these programs are located where one might expect to find them: Seattle, Portland, Maine, and University of California campuses. But not everyone expected New York City to come to the party. On June 16 Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans to expand and eventually require food scrap compost collection at locations across the city.
In discussing the plan, officials also signaled interest in the zero waste movement. “You want to get on a trajectory where you’re not sending anything to landfills,” Caswell F. Holloway IV, a deputy mayor, told The New York Times.
San Francisco aims to achieve zero waste by 2020, a goal set by the Board of Supervisors. The green bin program is a major contributor to San Francisco’s landfill diversion rate of 80 percent, the highest in the country.
Replicating the San Francisco program is just common sense. Food scraps collected from San Francisco are turned into nutrient-rich compost that is applied to local farms. Most of them are vineyards in Napa and Sonoma counties. Compost made from food scraps collected in New York City could be applied to farms in upstate New York, farms that grow fruits and vegetables sold at the 19 farmers’ markets in the city.
There are many wonderful things about these programs. They keep things out of landfills and feed topsoil on local farms, which helps farmers grow healthier food. Urbanites like to shop at farmer’s markets and increasingly are hearing about the connection between tossing coffee grounds and vegetable peelings in their kitchen compost pails and the heirloom tomatoes and fresh carrots they buy on Saturday mornings.
Bloomberg’s announcement generated a lot of New York media coverage and press calls to San Francisco seeking reaction and insights. Reporters looking for opposing views among New Yorkers were mostly disappointed and within two days said “people like it.”
The Times reported that test compost collection programs in New York have shown an “unexpectedly high level of participation.” More than one headline read like this one: “Take it from a composting veteran, it is easier than you think.”
That perspective will feel correct to most people who live and work in San Francisco, experienced composters that we are. Some here are compost holdouts and need to get with the program, but in total we are getting our city a little closer to zero waste everyday. And in that context it was nice, at least for a few days, to read headlines like “New York City amps up food recycling, while San Francisco shows the way.”
San Francisco, Calif. (June 25, 2013) – Recology announced today the launch of a web page featuring SFO Museum’s exhibition of work from the Recology Artist in Residence Program at the United Terminal. The Art of Recology, highlights this innovative art program that was founded to challenge the way we think about waste, consumption, and art.
The video and slide show, located at recologysf.com/SFO, allow those who can’t see the exhibition in person to experience the artwork online. More than 100 pieces made by 45 Bay Area artists who have participated in the program are on display.
“The purpose of the program is to encourage recycling, help San Franciscans think outside of the box, and help us get to Zero Waste,” said program manager Deborah Munk. “Recology believes that art has the power to influence behavior and inspire new ways of thinking about resource conservation and sustainability.”
The exhibition is open through October 2013 and is expected to be viewed by more than 2.5 million people. The myriad of artworks displayed include a gown made from recycled San Francisco Chronicle delivery bags and a life-sized Styrofoam Hummer.
“The wide-ranging artworks stand on their own as extraordinary examples of beauty and creativity, but the larger message of the need to change our view of material goods and their disposal in the waste stream is ever present,” said Tim O’Brien, SFO Museum Curator of Exhibitions. “It’s really gratifying to see such a strong public response by visitors.”
The Recology Artist in Residence Program aims to inspire and educate by providing local artists with access to materials, a work space, and monetary and administrative support. The artists chosen for the professional residency program have 24-hour access to a studio space and can scavenge in Recology’s Public Disposal and Recycling Areas for materials. Every piece they make has to be made completely from recycled or reused materials.
Through its tours and exhibitions over the past 23 years, the Artist in Residence Program has brought together diverse communities such as artists, students, environmentalists, businesses, and educators who share a common goal of creating a more sustainable world. The program has become world renowned, sponsoring more than 100 Bay Area artists since it began in 1990.
“In my opinion, this exhibition is the highlight of the Artist in Residence Program,” Munk said. “We believe that people who visit the SFO Museum exhibition will start thinking about reuse or recycling in a way that they wouldn’t by merely getting a pamphlet in the mail.”
To watch a video about the exhibition or download images of the artwork, visit recologysf.com/SFO.
(415) 269-2237 cell
Recology San Francisco, Art at the Dump Artist in Residence Exhibitions: Work by Benjamin Cowden, Ian Treasure and Hannah Quinn
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Benjamin Cowden, Ian Treasure, and student artist Hannah Quinn on Friday, May 17, from 5-9pm and Saturday, May 18, from 1-3pm. Additional viewing hours will be held on Tuesday, May 21, from 5-7pm. Please note the new Saturday hours and additional Tuesday viewing time. Music will be provided Friday night by dj Joshua Pieper and on Saturday The Insufferables will perform. 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.
Benjamin Cowden: Lunar Cassowaries
The cassowary, a large flightless bird, serves as a point of reference for Benjamin Cowden’s series of kinetic sculptures. Cowden’s works explore motion, flight, and wind-propulsion via unlikely combinations of found materials. Cowden has modified kites, umbrellas, and wind sails to make wing-like forms, but much like the cassowary, these winged creatures don’t leave the ground. They do, however, move or respond to human interaction—often in surprising ways. Cowden has harvested motion sensors from outdoor lights and novelty candles, and in combination with windshield wiper motors, tent poles, fishing reel gears and his own skillfully designed circuits, has created works that not only use, but generate energy.
Cowden explains, “In a society so focused on energy consumption, it seems especially fitting to re-purpose the detritus of that consumption not only into works of art, but into devices which in turn create their own energy.” Cowden’s sculptures also prompt us to think about our relationship to the natural world. The crafting of bird-like forms from the waste stream in turn poses questions about the waste stream’s effects on actual birds and other animals. Assembled together his sculptures appear like residents of a sanctuary for the rarest and most unusual of creatures. But unlike the cassowaries which are truly endangered and whose future is uncertain, these mechanical beings made with objects from the waste stream are here to stay.
Cowden received his MFA in metalsmithing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondate. He is an instructor at the Crucible in Oakland and has been an artist-in-residence at the Appalachian Center for Crafts in Cookeville, Tennessee and at Monochrom in Vienna, Austria.
Ian Treasure: Road to Nowhere
Commonplace symbols and objects so ubiquitous in our lives that we hardly give them a second thought are the subject of Ian Treasure’s work. In his sculptures and installations he employs repetitive forms and modern mechanics in tandem with the playful use of time and duration. Works have an anthropomorphic quality, demanding our attention with sounds and movements filled with personality. Humor and surprise are key components, but works also have an element of poignancy and provide space for reflection on the complexities, as well as absurdities, of life.
In Treasure’s Road to Nowhere a small toy taxicab travels on a never-ending journey. Less a feel good road trip than an existential expedition, the taxi rides along a conveyer belt highway, following an infinite dotted line. Unlike a car, symbolic of individual exploration and freedom, the taxicab speaks to relinquishing or losing control of the journey—be it in our own lives or on a larger, societal level. When placed against the backdrop of the dump, it can serve as a metaphor for loss of control over our consumption and its environmental implications. Treasure’s other works include a group of trouble-maker school desks and a liberated drum snare.
Treasure received an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and has been an artist-in-residence at the Djarassi Residency Artist Program in Woodside, California. He has participated in exhibitions in London, at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art in San Jose, California.
Hannah Quinn: Beyond the Bower
During her residency Hannah Quinn has created functional works that reference the traditions of craftspeople and home hobbyists, while also exploring utilitarian forms. Quinn has scavenged wood of all kinds—from a skateboard maker’s scraps to legs pulled from old tables and chairs—to play with the shapes of benches, stools, ladders and other simple, yet versatile objects.
A homemade stool has served as the model for Quinn’s own series of stools. Years of wear and repair visible in the old stool point to a time when furniture and household items were not disposable commodities, and illustrate how this basic object functioned within the life of those who used it. Quinn’s stools—50 identical forms out of construction-grade lumber scraps— illustrate the abundances of modern life and pose questions about mass-production vs. the homemade. Her stools also pay tribute to the original object’s maker and caretakers, and act as blank canvases for future lifetimes of use and repair.
Quinn, who is an undergraduate studying furniture design at the California College of the Arts, identifies one of the motivations behind her work as the desire to create objects that promote human interaction. Quinn will also exhibit small found items as scientific specimens, highlighting beloved tools and oddball objects found in the discards from home and professional workshops.
The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind program established in 1990 to encourage the conservation of natural resources and instill a greater appreciation for the environment and art in children and adults. Artists work for four months in studio space on site, use materials recovered from the Public Disposal and Recycling Area, and speak to students and the general public. Over ninety-five professional Bay Area artists have completed residencies. Applications are accepted annually in August.
Reception-Friday, May 17, 2013, 5-9pm
Reception-Saturday, May 18, 2013, 1-3pm
Additional viewing hours-Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 5-7pm
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.
Guest blogger, Risa Buck, Waste Zero Specialist at Recology Ashland celebrates art made from what would have been landfilled.
Last Wednesday, April 17th Ashland, Oregon celebrated the grand dedication of its first 100% recycled content mosaic. This mosaic resulted from the joint inspiration of Recology and City of Ashland’s North Mountain Park personnel, who recognized the need to upgrade and revitalize the trash and recycling collection station, while at the same time finding a unique way to reinforce the importance of reusing items once destined for the landfill.
Mosaic materials, including glass, metal and plastics were all sourced locally and recovered from local businesses, homes and the Valley View Transfer Station. Among the many items found within the mosaic are bike chains and sprockets, liquor bottle bottoms, plastic and metal lids, bricks, keys, and jewelry. Local artist Sue Springer, of Illahe Studios and Gallery, was commissioned by Recology to create a nontraditional mosaic of recycled materials, creating this beautiful rendering of the “three R’s”. The goal was to create a colorful, permanent and surprising assemblage of materials, to change thinking about trash and recycling. Remember, “it’s only trash if that’s how you treat it”.
The community, both young and old, has responded with delight.
Following the mosaic dedication, Marinel Baker, Recycling Attendant at Recology Ashland, and me, gave a presentation that led participants on the trail of trash and recycling collected in Ashland & Talent, including an interactive activity to learn “what goes where and why” .
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!
Students of teachers Sandra Sperow and Dawn Tesarowski from Audubon School in Foster City were awarded first place. The fifth grade class was rewarded with $500 by RethinkWaste for their “The U.S.A. Just Got Recycled Map”.
Second place went to Shelly Jones’ fourth grade students at Fiesta Gardens International School for “Young Shadows: Homage to Louise Nevelson”.
Third place went to Kathie Strafaci’s sixth grade class at St. Charles School in San Carols for “Tiger,” a representation of their school mascot.
Winners will receive their awards on Saturday, April 20th from 10AM-2PM at the Shoreway Environmental Center in San Carlos.
For more information, visit www.rethinkwaste.org.
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.