San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade

Posted in Community, Events, San Bruno, San Francisco, San Mateo County, Silicon Valley, South Bay by ErinAtRecology on January 31, 2014

Chinese New Year at Recology
Happy Lunar New Year – Gung Hay Fat Choy!

Join Recology in celebrating Chinese New Year at the San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade.

When: February 15, 5:15 pm – 8:00 pm
Location: Market and Second Street to Kearny and Jackson
For more information, visit

Recology Sunset Scavenger and Recology Golden Gate have been collecting recyclables and trash in San Francisco for well over 80 years. We’re excited to celebrate another year of service at the San Francisco Chinese New Year parade on Saturday, February 15th. Our Recology Drill Team and the Recology Dragon and Pearl will make an appearance at this years parade to welcome the Year of the Horse.

The Recology Dragon and Pearl, created by San Francisco artists Dana Albany and Flash Hopkins, is constructed out of 100% recycled materials. As a “tip-of-the-hat” to our history, the Recology Drill Team will be showing the crowd what they can do with a packing can. In the past, they carried these cans on their backs, house-to-house, up and down stairs, and into backyards collecting trash before carrying it back out to the street to dump into the truck. These folks have to be in shape, since each can weighs 40 pounds when empty!

Following the award-winning drill team, will be “Old Red,” an antique garbage truck built in 1948. While “Old Red” was state-of-the-art in the 1940s, today Recology’s entire fleet of modern collection vehicles are powered by clean, alternative fuels such as liquid natural gas and bio-diesel.

Last in line will be the “Green DeMartini,” an antique truck from 1954. This truck collected materials from the streets of San Francisco for over 30 years!

The Recology Family invites you to celebrate Lunar New Year with us! GUNG HAY FAT CHOY!

Parade route map:

paraderoute (more…)

If compost collection can make it in NYC, it can make it anywhere.

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.”

Art made from garbage delights travelers at SFO

Posted in Events, Recology, San Francisco, You Should Know... by ecotulip on June 25, 2013

News release

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, 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

Media Contacts:

Gina Antonini

Singer Associates

(415) 269-2237 cell

Deborah Munk


(415) 330-1415

Recology San Francisco, Art at the Dump Artist in Residence Exhibitions: 
Work by Benjamin Cowden, Ian Treasure and Hannah Quinn

Posted in Events, Recology, Recycling, San Francisco, WASTE ZERO, You Should Know... by art at the dump on May 6, 2013

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.

Compost collection is a good idea – 75 years in the making

Posted in Composting, Diversion, Recology by ecotulip on March 6, 2013

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.

The pit that you don’t see

It is safe to say that the work we’ve been doing to create alternatives to landfill disposal has forced a change in the traditional waste industry. And it’s an industry that badly needs to change.

One way that we’ve done this is to show people where their garbage goes, and what’s in it. We often take people on tours of our transfer stations, and show them what they think goes “away” after they leave their garbage on the curb.  Most companies would never show the public what the folks at the Recology transfer station in San Francisco call “the Pit”. 

Src: Rebuilding Together San Francisco via flickr

The Pit temporarily holds what goes into the garbage can before it’s transfered to a landfill. Most of it is recyclable or compostable. When we look at the pit, we feel the same sense of sadness that others feel when they’re exposed to it for the first time. There’s a lot of wasted material in there.

We don’t hide the Pit for a reason. What folks see in there is an important part of their education about recycling, composting and landfills. And we show it to them for another reason too: to show them what they’re not seeing when they look at the Pit. Fifteen to twenty years ago, the Pit saw about 3,000 tons of waste per day. Today, the number is 1,350. We’ve been able to do this through our partnership with every resident of San Francisco and the Department of the Environment, and the three-bin system that we created, which allows everyone to sort out their compostable and recyclable material from their garbage.  

We participate in coastal and city-wide clean up days to make sure what can be recycled is recycled during those events, and try to inspire people to see garbage differently through our Artist in Residence program in San Francisco and GLEAN in Portland.

Of course, there will always be garbage as long as products are made to be disposable after a single use, and as long as that is true, we will need landfills. But, we hope that the landfills of the future are “inert”–meaning no recyclable and no compostable materials go there.

Coming up with new ways to prevent usable resources from being wasted is part of the joy in our jobs. For example, one of the employees at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) in San Francisco came up with the idea to recover BART tickets that still had some value and to use the proceeds to support Friends of the Urban Forest and the San Francisco Food Bank.

We love that we get a chance to make a real, positive impact on the lives of people in the cities and towns where we work, and on resource conservation and the climate. It’s a tough and dirty job, but we are glad to do it.

Artist in Residence Exhibitions by Beau Buck and Karrie Hovey

Posted in Events, Recology, Resource Recovery, San Francisco by ecotulip on April 25, 2012
Friday, May 18 & Saturday, May 19, 2012

San Francisco Dump Artist in Residence Exhibitions:
Work by Beau Buck & Karrie Hovey

Location: 503 Tunnel Ave. San Francisco, CA 94134

Date/Time: Friday, May 18, 2012, 5pm to 9pm
Saturday, May 19, 2012, 1pm to 5pm

Admission is free and open to the public, all ages welcome, wheelchair accessible.

The Artist in Residence Program at Recology San Francisco will host an exhibition and reception for current artists-in-residence Beau Buck and Karrie Hovey on Friday, May 18, from 5-9pm and Saturday, May 19, from 1-5pm. 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.

Beau Buck: Honey


Beau Buck: Honey

Beau Buck has cited identification with animals as an important component in his art, so it is no wonder that the work of bees producing honey is a metaphor for his creative process while at Recology. He has likened the materials in the dump to a nectar, a raw material waiting to be transformed, and he has indeed performed a bit of alchemy turning disparate fabrics and metals into cohesive artworks. Buck’s work conjures up notions of an earlier era—before answers to everything were available at our fingertips—a time filled with lore and a reverence for the unknown, tinged with romanticism and mysticism. Working with bits of scavenged fabrics, leather cut from boots, antique fur coats, worn denim and tattered Persian rugs, Buck has constructed a grouping of life-sized jackrabbits. Each rabbit takes on a distinct character, and this collection of desert drifters, fading beauties, and wily explorers seems gathered to silently lament an earlier era or the passing of a friend, each imbued with the histories and stories associated with the materials assembled to create it.

“Each piece instructs me toward an understanding of what it means to be an artist, and where art belongs in our physical and digital world,” says Buck who moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia two years ago. Other work includes a romantic (or potentially claustrophobic), vine-covered structure made from windows and glass-paned doors which houses a small bench, and a series of cast lead feathers. Buck made molds of falcon feathers given to him by Recology’s falconer, Indigo, who uses birds of prey to scare away seagulls at the facility, then melted fishing weights and small pieces of pipe to cast leaden versions. The resulting silvery feathers take on atalisman-like quality as they are exhibited strung together, hanging in groups, like herbs drying to be used in an unknown ceremony.

Buck holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and has exhibited on the East Coast and in California.

Karrie Hovey: groundcover


Karrie Hovey: groundcover

During her residency at Recology, Karrie Hovey has made work that addresses the compulsion of humans to alter or manipulate the landscape, while also exploring her own interest in multiples and variations within multiple forms. From the deliberate clearcutting of forests and building of sprawling residential developments to the inadvertent melting of the polar icecap and creation of oceans of plastic resulting from our lifestyles and consumption practices, Hovey’s work alludes to this human urge to modify and meddle and its profound long-term impact on our natural environment.

Working with the term groundcover, she has created art pieces that do indeed cover the ground—in this case the floor of the studio—and which suggest landscapes viewed from the air. Hovey has used the glass kiln in the art studio to melt a variety of scavenged, broken glass and has produced forms in glistening, arctic-like colors which have the appearance of melting ice. Like glass, another material in abundance at the facility is atex paint, and Hovey has poured it on flat surfaces, then once it has dried, has peeled it up and sliced it up into shapes and strips.

lShe has woven the resulting new material creating grid-like forms that appear like pixels from our Google-mapped, manipulated landscapes. Working with discarded books, she has constructed a field of repeating chrysanthemum forms, and like the flowers which are sometimes associated with grief, this work can be seen as morning the loss of physical books while also suggesting the forests of trees used in their creation.

Says Hovey, “as a research-based, site-specific installation artist, I am interested in how a manufactured or created space can destabilize our customary expectations of and interactions with our environment. My investigations have led me to explore the symbiotic relationship between the human landscape and the natural environment. I am intrigued by the impact of global trade, patterns of consumer culture, and the aftermath of our consumption.”

Hovey received her MFA at San Francisco State University and has complete residencies in locations around the world, including China, Spain, the Netherlands, and France.

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.

Directions to 503 Tunnel Ave.

Directions from downtown San Francisco & East Bay
Go south on Highway 101 and exit at “Candlestick Park/Tunnel Ave.” After the stop sign, continue straight on Beatty Rd. Turn right on Tunnel Ave.

Direction from The Peninsula

Go north on Highway 101 and exit at the first “Candlestick Park” off-ramp. Stay in the left lane and take the first left toward the stop sign. Turn left onto Alanna Way and go under the freeway. At the next stop sign, turn right on Beatty Rd. Turn right on Tunnel Ave.

Public Transit

The “T” Third St. streetcar and bus lines 8x, 9, 9L, and 56 stop at Bayshore Blvd. and Arleta Ave. (three blocks away). The Caltrain “Bayshore Station” stop is directly across the street from our facility.



Gearing up for Earth Day

March 31st was a busy day all around the world:

· We set a record-breaking Earth Hour at 8:30PM PST. (Asia took the lead.)

· SOLV, working with Western Oregon Waste (WOW, a Recology company) collected 44,000 pounds of trash from the coast.

· Despite the rain, around 3,000 San Franciscans came out with their buckets, bags, carts and coolers to pick up free compost at the Great Compost Giveaway.

Hayes Valley Farm was happy to host the Great Compost Giveaway, since it shares Recology’s values of zero-waste and community involvement. The farm employs permaculture–a whole systems design approach to growing food and restoring natural ecologies–to minimize inputs and upcycle local waste on its 2.2 acre site in the heart of San Francisco. The photos are from the Giveaway at Hayes Valley Farm.


Now, get ready!

Recology San Mateo County and the City of San Carlos will host the next Great Compost Giveaway event on Earth Day this month.

Three things you can do this week to make life better

Posted in Composting, Recology, Resource Recovery, San Francisco by ecotulip on March 27, 2012

Last week, temperatures reached 85 degrees in Chicago. So far, there have been eight days out of 26 where the temperature was nearly 80 degrees or higher. Eight days out of 26 is 30% of the days this month so far. We’re still in March, right? Remember Chicago, the windy city? The city where people don’t go to get away from the cold?

Whether you believe that the climate is changing or not, it’s undeniable that is very strange weather indeed. And whether you believe this strange weather will impact you personally or not in the days and years to come, it doesn’t hurt anyone to consider what you can do to reduce pollution.

All across the globe, people are preparing for this year’s Earth Day celebrations on April 22nd. Because that’s still more than a month away, we encourage you to do three simple things this week for clean air, clean water, trees, birds, fish, farmlands that are neighbor to you or that serve you, sooth you or feed you, and maybe even for yourself:

1. If you live in a community where food scraps and yard trimmings are collected for composting, please compost. Compost makes it possible for people who grow food and plants in healthy soil and reduce polluting gases that emerge from organic materials that decompose in landfills.

2. Turn off all non-essential lights in your house or office, or where ever you don’t need them on for one hour this Saturday as part of the Earth Hour. 8:30 PM Pacific Standard Time. It will save you a few bucks too.

3. Pick up a bucket of compost for your backyard, front yard, your plants or landscaping. You can meet your neighbors and other people who also like to garden or grow things. It’s free.

If you live in San Francisco, this Saturday morning from 8AM to 12PM you can get up to 5 gallons of free compost at the Great Compost Giveaway. San Francisco was recently named the greenest city in North America, having composted over 1 million tons of food scraps, plants and other compostable material through Recology’s green bin recycling program. To help you close the loop and reap the benefits of composting, we invite you to join us at one of four locations throughout the city.

We will be at Alemany Farm, the Ferry Plaza, McLaren Park and the parking lot of Ocean Beach.

Learn more about the Great Compost Giveaway and register for the free event at

Communities partner to make sustainable organics recycling possible

An article in the December issue of MSW Management titled Rethinking Sustainable Organics included a quote from Henry Wallace, secretary of agriculture to President Franklin Roosevelt. The quote is:

“[n]ature treats the earth unkindly. Man treats her harshly. He over plows the cropland, overgrazes the pastureland, and overcuts the timberland. He destroys millions of acres completely. He pours fertility year after year into the cities, which in turn pour what they do not use down the sewers into the rivers and the ocean… The public is waking up, and just in time. In another 30 years it might have been too late.”

United States Department of Agriculture’s Soils and Men: Yearbook of Agriculture, 1936

In 1936, we already knew that through unsustainable management of cut trees, shrubs, and spoiled or leftover food we were depleting fertile soil of carbon and other nutrients. These materials can be managed to provide a soil amendment that returns minerals and carbon to the ground so that a piece of land will remain fertile despite years of cultivation that would otherwise depleted it. Bob Shaffer, an agronomist, says that only 10% of the planet has land that is suitable to raise crops and fortunately, over time, compost made from recycled food scraps has been embraced by farmers.

Recology has been working for 15 years with the City of San Francisco to make food scraps recycling possible. Now, 60% of what we at Recology touch in San Francisco stays out of landfills. One way we do this is through advanced composting processes, technology and the knowledge we’ve gained over 15 years. Greg Pryor, manager of  Jepson Prairie Organics has mastered the process through testing all kinds of technologies and techniques at the composting facility, which opened in 1996. Jepson Prairie Organics is located among agricultural lands in Northern California, and has created 1,100,000 tons of compost since it opened. The composting processes that Recology has developed have resulted in VOC emissions that are far below state minimum requirements, prevent the creation of methane gas, and create a specially-blended compost and compost teas that are useful to biodynamic farmers.

Closing the loop on sustainable farming is possible when communities that consider sustainability issues  as they plan their garbage programs–or resource recovery programs in the case of San Francisco–are willing to partner with companies like Recology in this great experiment of human social and ecological survival. We are glad that more and more cities are catching on.


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