Eco Blog: dedication to Green Hauling

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!

San Rafael Students Make Colorful Change

September 24th, 2012

I’m always excited to hear about situations where big ideas started locally and created meaningful change. That’s why I’m so proud of the students of Sun Valley Middle School here in San Rafael. They noticed that they were creating excess waste and decided to approach the problem directly.

Earlier this year, the students and the aptly-named Mr. Land (Land Wilson, the leader of the school’s Green Team) took on the issue of marker waste. Markers, specifically Crayola, can only be used until the ink has run dry. At that point, it simply becomes more plastic waste. Crayola spokespeople have recommended recycling only the caps of their makers. They claim that removing the ink tub and nib (in order to recycle the body of the marker) creates small parts that present a choking hazard.
In almost all cases, there are greener options than recycling. But short of creating refillable markers, having a way to recycle them would be a great step forward. Sun Valley students recognized this and took action, calling on Crayola to provide a way to recycle all of the plastic that they produce. The students created a petition on change.org and gathered a whopping 82,718 signatures.

In May, Crayola responded–saying they would do nothing. They cited a “lack of facilities and process.” To most, this sounded like they had simply decided it would be too expensive to address this issue. In fact, there are facilities and processes in place to recycle markers.

Recently, the makers of Prang Art Markers picked up the torch where Crayola dropped it. Dixon Ticoderoga, maker of Prang markers, has put in place a system whereby customers can send in their markers for free to be reused. CEO Timothy Gomez applauded the students for creating change on a major scale.

Let’s hope Crayola hears of this decision and follows suit. After all, in this situation it was truly the kids who made their mark!

Radiated Construction Debris Found on San Francisco’s Treasure Island

September 12th, 2012

When a story comes to light that involves hauling, disposal, and dangerous radiation levels, it will always be of interest to us. And when it’s something that happens so local to San Francisco, you’ve really got our attention.

San Francisco’s plan to build high-rise house for 20,000 people on Treasure Island has just become a lot more interesting. According to NBC, a recent US Navy report discloses the presence of radiation on the island that had been previously undiscovered. Immediately, the state pressed the Navy (who currently owns much of Treasure Island) to reveal the source of the radiation.

So here’s the fascinating part: the Navy had used Treasure Island to repair, tear down, recycle and incinerate material from ships that had been exposed to 1940s era atomic testing. Navy contractors have dug up 16,000 cubic yards of construction debris with dangerously high radiation levels. Removal is underway, and 1,000 truckloads of radioactive material have already left the island.

The Navy had, until recently, been tight-lipped about their use of Treasure Island years ago. The information certainly might have affected residents’ decisions to live near the waste and dismantling sites. However, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee claims that these new discoveries will not delay construction plans on the island. The city still plans to purchase the land from the Navy and build the $1.5 billion development.

The Navy claims that radiation levels have been overstated and that they remain committed to the safety of Treasure Island. Although residents are understandably affected by the idea that their island was once used to house and wash radiation-soaked vessels.

Safe and responsible construction debris removal is always a tricky topic. We hope that the city and the Navy respond carefully and responsibly to the situation.

Walnut Creek Makes Floating Plastic Islands

September 5th, 2012

When someone takes a bunch of plastic bottles and tosses them into a lake, we call that pollution. But Walnut Creek is doing just that, and they’re doing it for the environment.

There’s a man-made lake in Heather Farm Park in Walnut Creek. Until recently, the lake was kept clean using chemical treatment. Local fishers and residents were upset with the level of chemicals that were being used to treat the lake, (and the subsequently small size of the fish) so they proposed an interesting solution.

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Vehicle Sharing Really is Caring!

August 29th, 2012

Our Fast Haul junk hauling truckBig trucks are quite useful here in the junk hauling business. Since those global warming numbers sure aren’t getting any better, we’re working to replace our fleet with biodiesel trucks. And when we’re not out working, we prefer to spend as much time off the road as possible. Luckily, cities like San Francisco are finding ways to limit the amount of time we spend in cars. The most effective way to do that? Sharing.

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