Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

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San Francisco: Where Earth Day Took Flight

March 20th, 2014

Philadelphia may be the city of “Brotherly Love”, but San Francisco…is the city of “Motherly Love’.  In 1971, the United Nations designated March 20th as International Earth Day, a day which has been celebrated around the world, but it was first celebrated in San Francisco, CA.  Why March 20th? That day is the first day of spring, also known as the vernal equinox. What does this day signify? In the words of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the occasion last year, “International Mother Earth Day is a chance to reaffirm our collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature at a time when our planet is under threat from climate change, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and other man-made problems.”

This clarion call has been taken up by environmental sentinels and stewards the world over and now you can find Earth Day or International Earth Day, or some other version of this nomenclature, celebrated in countries around the world. Earth day events tend to be highly educational and participatory in nature – a vehicle to engage citizens in the issues that shape not only their immediate environment, but that of other communities, and ultimately, the world community. Projects range from tree-planting, to composting, to stream reclamation, to recycling workshops, and are generally hoped to lead to ongoing and year-round events and activities in local communities.

It was in 1990, on the 20th anniversary of Earth Day that the movement went global, by mobilizing 200 million people, in 141 countries. The scale of that mobilization gave environmental awareness a global platform and impact. One empirical result of this action was the boost in recycling efforts around the world. In 1985, the average recycling of Americans per capita was 10.1% (of total Municipal Solid Waste generated), by 2011 that number had jumped to 34.7%, more than three times what it had been less than two decades ago.

Companies like Fast Haul, a licensed junk removal service in the San Francisco Bay Area, have helped spearhead the recycling boom, by providing a courier to appropriate diversion sites (charities, e-waste recyclers, metal and glass reclaimers, etc.) helping keep reusable or recyclable waste out of landfills.

In the words of the movement’s founder, Gaylord Nelson, “The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity… that’s all there is. That’s the whole economy. That’s where all the economic activity and jobs come from. These biological systems are the sustaining wealth of the world.”

Sources:

http://www.latintimes.com/international-earth-day-quotes-40-sayings-about-saving-our-planet-our-future-children-160051

http://www.earthday.org/program/international

By: Ethan Malone

No More Bottles!: SF’s Plastic Bottled Water Ban

February 6th, 2014

sf.waterbottles.0329San Francisco continues to stake out new territory as the leader in waste diversion by proposing a ban on the sale of water bottles on public property.  If enacted, this would be among the strictest bottled water bans in the country.  This idea has sparked a debate, with people on both sides weighing in on the potential impact (positive and adverse) of such a bold move.

Who Would be Affected?

The ordinance would apply to any event conducted on public property with 100 or more attendees.   This would not just apply to conventional festivals, but would even extend to mobile food trucks — which would need to offer tap water instead of purveying bottled water, though it would only apply to events with adequate on-site tap water, initially.  That is until late 2016, when it would take affect at all events on San Francisco-owned property.

The Pros:

  • The water’s great!  Long considered exceptional, San Francisco tap water comes from snowmelt flowing down the Tuolumne River and is quality-tested  100,000> times a year.  This water is considered so pure that the both the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Public Health say it needs no filtration.
  • Back in 2007, former Mayor Gavin Newsom’s executive order prohibiting the use of city funds purchase bottled water saved half a million in annual city spending.
  • Bottled water requires 17 million (estimated) barrels of oil each year of production  and three times the water produced to produce it.

For annual events, such as Outside Lands which draws 65,000 people, only three refillable tap water stations were available.  This example is but one of the many that mandates that the city thoroughly study how to accommodate water supply demands at such events and prioritize installing water fountains and reusable bottle filling stations.

Source: http://blogs.kqed.org/newsfix/2013/12/17/121024/bottled-water-sales-ban-San-Francisco

By: Ethan Malone

SF State Effort To Help San Francisco Achieve Zero Waste

October 14th, 2013

9670199476_8074a4d7d0_hTo help further advance San Francisco’s zero waste goal, San Francisco State University started the Office of Sustainability that will work to reduce SF State’s landfill waste by educating as well as advocating change about waste reduction and being sustainable to the administrative staff and student body.

So far, the Office of Sustainability has already urged the University to purchase products that are recyclable or compostable, to look for ways to reduce energy consumption and integrate sustainability into all aspects of the University such as adding more compost recycling and waste bins in residence halls to comply with San Francisco mandatory recycling and composting ordinance. The new department plan to tackle other environmental issues as well as such as economic development, natural vs. man-made environment, energy-efficiency, the food systems and water conservation.

Nick Kordesch, program coordinator of the Office of Sustainability, believes through events and education, SF State can have a huge positive impact on the environment. Some events they have hosted includes Park(ing) Day, which allows artist and activist to transform the student parking lot into a recreational park for a day in order to help curb carbon emission and the . Another educational event that will take place on Oct. 23, is the Campus Sustainability Day, which will give homage to some of the successful green movements as well as provide educational opportunities to students about future challenges they may face concerning today’s global climate change.

Source: http://www.goldengatexpress.org/2013/09/17/office-of-sustainability/

By: Ethan Malone

A Zero-Waste City: SF’s Ambitious Goal

February 25th, 2013

Trash, recycling and compostable material bins sit in front of homes in San Francisco in this file photo. (Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

In a recent article on USAToday.com by Michelle Lodge, a joint effort between the city of San Francisco and the city’s primary waste management company, Recology, was highlighted. The goal of this joint effort is to make San Francisco a zero-waste city in just seven year’s time. By “zero-waste” this ambitious plan literally is seeking to have 100% of garbage waste diverted to various recycling or composting efforts rather than going to the landfill.  Here is a brief excerpt from the article:

If they’re successful, all of San Franciscans’ discarded items will be recycled, reused or composted, and its need for landfills will become obsolete.

As a result, what might look like a stinky pile of trash to the average person is quite another matter to a “garbage man” like Michael J. Sangiacomo, president and CEO of Recology, an employee-owned and operated company that has held a solid-waste-management contract with San Francisco for many years. Read more @ USATODAY.com

For larger items such as old appliances or out-dated electronics (that may contain hazardous materials), it can be especially complicated for consumers to assess where to dump those types of items.  In these cases, we at Fast Haul like to present ourselves as a convenient, and a green solution, that is aligned with the goals of programs such as the one described by this USA Today article.  As a true green business, Fast Haul offers a 10% recycle discount for loads containing 25% minimum of recyclable materials such as metal, paper, cardboard, green waste, etc. You can read more about this on our Green Hauling page.

Parklets Reduce Parking, Increase Park-ing

October 11th, 2012

What’s better than finding a parking spot? How about finding a place to sit, have a cup of coffee, read the paper, and meet your neighbors? With San Francisco’s highly-praised parklet program, this is exactly what you can do.

The two-year old program called Pavement to Parks allows San Francisco businesses and residents to propose parklet designs to the city. And the city has found a clever way to reduce bureaucracy, red tape, and excessive time from proposal to parklet: they let citizens build the parklets themselves.

Building a parklet can be expensive. Costs, including permits and construction, can run up to $20,000. There’s an additional rental fee of $200 that is paid to the city. Businesses sometimes go to Kickstarter, or other creative funding sources to create a park.

Some parklets are seating areas for cafes, others are small displays of art. But all parklets are public spaces and work to encourage foot traffic and neighborhood participation. They also encourage people to slow down and support local businesses.

KTVU ran a story recently expressing some backlash at the parklet system. The disappointed people that they interviewed were those who claimed there was already too little parking in the city. At the last count, there were 441,541 parking spaces in San Francisco. Currently there are proposals for 70 parklets. That’s hardly a number that ought to concern drivers. Also consider that the folks that they interviewed were coming in from San Jose and Walnut Creek. There is a CalTrain station in San Jose and a BART station in Walnut Creek–perhaps they should consider public transportation.

The parklet system is about more than reducing places to park and replacing them with places to sit. It’s about changing the way we think about our city–not as places to drive through, but places to live in. Foot traffic is healthier, more sustainable, and better for local business. Have a seat!

 
 
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