Sonoma County Sets its sights on zero wasteFrom working to return composting facilities to Sonoma County to reducing single-use plastics, 350 Sonoma is focused on achieving zero waste. Stay tuned as we track the issues to keep you informed and provide opportunities to take action.
Zero Waste Action Group
Some of our current initiatives are:
- bringing composting facilities back to Sonoma County
- reducing single-use plastics such as straws, beverage lids, etc.
- working in coalition with other environmental, environmental-justice, and labor groups to bring a green and labor-friendly garbage hauler to Santa Rosa.
Sign up to be a volunteer for one or more Wednesdays!
Zero Waste Sonoma County
By Caitlyn Thomasson
Folks in Sonoma County are learning how to work towards Zero Waste by composting, recycling, and reducing plastic use. Considering that Sonoma County residents contribute 4.6 pounds per person, per day to the landfill, this is an much needed culture shift. On June 24th, the Sebastopol Farmers Market hosted the first Zero Waste outreach booth with the help from Recology and 350 Sonoma members to help address this issue. Market-goers could stop by and decorate reusable produce bags made from repurposed from cloth with veggie stamps. The bags are a fun, colorful, and an eco-friendly way for people to gather veggies at the market without using plastic bags. Enthusiastic employees from Recology were on hand to provide information about their company and answer questions about recycling and composting. Also, a travelling trash installation from the Santa Rosa Junior College was on display, providing education and a unique conversation starter to help us all realize how much single-use plastic and disposable coffee cups are sent to the landfill weekly.
To get involved, visit us at the Sebastopol farmers markets for our monthly zero waste outreach booth (July 29th, August 26, September 30, October 21, November 18, December 16 January 27); join us at our zero waste subcommittee maker meetings to make more reusable veggies bags and other reusable DIY items to share at the market (contact Sunny Galbraith for more information: email@example.com); make a personal pledge to get closer to zero waste in your life, and encourage your city counsel or supervisor to adopt the upcoming Zero Waste Resolution, and ask restaurants/vendors to replace single-use plastic with compostable and recyclable alternative.
It has been a big month for the Zero Waste team. We worked with the Santa Rosa Junior College student sustainability group to present Wasted, a deep and sometimes profane look at food waste throughout the world. The conversation that followed was lively and informative. We were also instrumental in converting the Santa Rosa Earth Day to a Zero Waste event. As part of the effort, our own Sunny Galbraith organized 30 middle school and high school student volunteers who sortied garbage, separating compostible and recyclable materials from trash while educating the public. In addition, several 350 folks are participating in the “Zero Waste Curious” trainings, where we are being trained by Portia Sinnot of Zero Waste USA to give 20-minute informational presentations about Zero Waste to the general public.
On May 10th, we participated in the second-annual Sonoma County Zero Waste Symposium, which featured an amazing collection of knowledgeable and inspirational speakers. This event, somewhat coincidentally, marks the beginning our push to get city councils and the county board of supervisors in Sonoma County to pass a Zero Waste resolution. The Zero Waste policy resolution was crafted by a large group of community and business members interested in promoting specific city and county action to reduce waste and climate warming emissions, while promoting good jobs.
Hello Earth Enthusiasts! Please spread the word about Santa Rosa Earth Day. This will be a fun Zero Waste volunteer opportunity, particularly for middle school, high school, or college students and teachers that you know. Enthusiastic students make great Zero Waste ambassadors! Sign up to help with compost and recycling stations at the celebration. We want to give students a chance to sign up first. It will be super fun and a great community service opportunity! For the first time ever, this will be a Zero Waste event, and we need your help to make it happen. I am giving the first sign-up opportunity to middle school, high school, and college volunteers.
Volunteers will help monitor the compost/ recycling/ trash stations so that materials go in the correct bin. As a volunteer, you will help people sort their waste items (we will provide you with gloves and grabbers). This is a wonderful opportunity to participate in educating the public about how to sort waste at home so that we don’t send valuable recyclables and compostables to the landfill. AND, all volunteers get a free Santa Rosa Earth Day Volunteer t-shirt and reusable water bottle.
Click on this link to sign up: http://signup.com/go/VHVOMJz (you will not need to create an account to sign up). Shifts are either from 11:00-1:00pm, 1:00-3:00pm or 3:00-5:00 pm.
We will have our next Zero Waste Action Group meeting on Monday, April 2nd, 6:30-8:00pm in Sebastopol. We focus on spreading the word and community organizing. We have so many exciting things to talk about and plan for! Email 350SonomaCounty@gmail.com for location.
Good news! Santa Rosa just approved a contract with Recology, choosing it to be its new garbage hauler. Recology has an excellent record both as a responsible steward of the environment and a company concerned with the well-being of its employees.
350 Sonoma worked closely with North Bay Jobs with Justice to encourage city councilors to choose a waste hauler with a strong track record of fair and safe employment practices, and a sustainable, zero-waste approach. We know that rates will increase to reflect the added costs fair wages and cleaner trucks and practices. The result will be rates in line with our region, better jobs, safer working conditions AND keeping key resources out of the landfill. Other cities working with a zero-waste philosophy have significantly reduced landfill requirements and spurred local economic growth by utilizing resources previously discarded.
Watch this space! 350 Sonoma is part of two coalitions working towards improving waste management in the county, the Compost Coalition working to bring a local compost facility back, and the Zero Waste Task Force, working with other community groups to get Sonoma County cities to adopt zero waste policies.
What is Plastic Free July? It’s a challenge to all of us to refuse single-use plastic! It’s not all that easy – straws, bags, plastic lids all get delivered to us automatically, so you have to remember to ask to NOT receive them (and shouldn’t it be the other way around?) Take the pledge here and learn about ideas for avoiding junk plastics. We have found it (mostly) pretty easy to avoid plastic bottles, cups, straws and bags by carrying our own. What do you do to avoid junk plastic?