Wrote 2 articles for Sonoma County Gazette on Recycling, Sonoma Style, hoping to rebutt my partner, Wayne’s contention that “recycling is a myth”. Sigh. At that point, The Ratto Group was sited as having delivered up to 50% trash in its recycling – just outworn equipment and bad policy. I dived into Zero Waste 2020, a SF based program, hoping to find a model for our future and was shot down by a guy I met at Bioneers who said “Yea, I worked on that 5 years, but they’re not anywhere near their goals.” Sigh again. But our trash doesn’t just disappear into the trash containers we nearly all now use – it is SUPPOSED to be repurpased. But to what degree is that happening?

Monday’s Aqus Cafe gathering, Building A Movement for Good Jobs and Zero Waste, presentors including Laura Neish, ED, 350 Bay Area, will offer a lot of answers. She’s joined by our new, much greener, service, Recology, both the General Manager and Zero Waste Manager (they HAVE one!) so questions may be easily asked.

Their blurb says “This panel discussion and dialogue will examine how bad jobs can become good union jobs in the waste management industry and how a zero waste campaign for Sonoma County and Petaluma over the next decade can result in a 100% diversion rate of waste from landfills. In addition, participants will discuss how County and Petaluma residents can become involved in the good jobs and zero waste campaign.”

Sounds like a possible plan! Go Zero Wasters! And YOU can be part of it Mon. 6:45p at Aqus Cafe, Petaluma

Participants include:

Fred Stemmler, Recology General Manager, Sonoma and Marin

Celia Furber, Recology Zero Waste Manager

Lisa Moore, Recology Zero Waste Specialist

Laura Neish, Executive Director, 350 Bay Area and Sonoma

Patricio EstupiƱan and Juan Gallo, Recology driver and Teamster Local 665 rep

Marty Bennett, co-chair, North Bay Jobs with Justice

Friday’s Chron. article by Steve Rubenstein (the guy willing to publish a photo of the nuclear waste sculpture displayed at Fort Mason when no one else would give it print) also builds hope. “3rd-graders sustain no-waste classroom,” says his headline in Friday’s paper. Oxford Elementary School in Berkeley (of course) fit 180 days’t trash into a mason jar! Great program, teach! Room 22 at Oxford Elementary School benefits greatly from this hopeful project. At a time when many millenials have given up on having children (the world will be too much of a mess), it is great to read that SOME kids are becoming part of a solution to waste. “Our generation is the one that has to help. If a class of 9-year-olds can do this, anyone can do this You need to buy unpainted pencils.” – Fiona Groth Reidy, 3rd grader.

While I was able when I first wrote about recycling to point to the bad behavior of The Ratto Group, also known then as North Bay Corporation, and follow the trajectory of the Zero Waste 2020 group in San Francisco as a model, it seems the piles of tiny bits of plastic just rise higher on the landfill as they become worthless to recyclers – along, it seems, with large quanitities of paper – and plastic!

So are we inevitably left with ever-increasing, sometimes leaky landfill? May be some work-arounds. Just read a bit about capturing methane from landfill and ways to make the whole pile deminish – but these methods sound decades away and we have so many other crisis, we may never get to intelligent reuse?

Other opinions may prevail, if we’re serious, lucky and hardworking on Life Without Plastic and Keep it in the Ground (fossil fuels) and other mottos leading us toward a Recycle, Re-use future.

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