It may surprise you to hear that Bayside has been really important for the local Zero Waste movement. Why? Meet Maggie Gainer!
Maggie moved in to her Bayside home on Christmas of 1978. She founded a community development and waste reduction consulting firm in 1985 and served as Director of HSU’s Office for Economic and Community Development. She was instrumental in the formation of Zero Waste Humboldt in 2011 and now serves as its president.
If you don’t know about ZWH, they are a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to providing contemporary sustainable materials management and helping business to incorporate Zero Waste practices.
One of Maggie’s initial ZW projects took place at the Bayside Community Hall, where real dishes, cloth napkins, and collection of food waste for compost made quarterly pancake breakfasts virtually waste-free.
I recently had a chance to talk to Maggie about ZW issues and it quickly became a discussion about climate change and carbon footprint.
Humboldt has no landfill so all of our waste is trucked out of county, some to Oregon, some to the Bay Area, some to the east.
But that’s just the beginning of the carbon problem. One-third of our trash tonnage is food waste which generates lots of methane.
And then there is plastic, too much of it, that takes petroleum to produce, and petroleum to move, and which basically never goes away.
The solution, says Maggie, is to prevent waste in the first place. Reduce packaging, refill that water bottle or coffee mug, and eliminate as much plastic as possible. Compost food waste. When you must use disposables, make sure they are biodegradable. The next step is to re-use. We have great second-hand stores that can give objects new life.
On the re-use front, there are two local projects right now that can put your old stuff to use. Arcata Mutual Aid continues to collect warm clothing (size large and up) for distribution to those who need it.
And Arcata Safe and Sober is doing a fundraiser that involves collecting 2,500 pairs of shoes (any type, any size). So go through those closets and see what you’ve got. You can drop off items at the front door of Bayside Community Hall and they will get them to where they need to go.
And what about recycling? Maggie says that it is important to do, but should be a last resort.
In a perfect world we would have a closed materials stream, where the items we recycle can be remanufactured, as locally as possible, into whatever their next life should be.
But that just doesn’t happen much here. Like everything else, recyclables are trucked out of county and then, often, shipped far away for processing. Definitely not eco-friendly.
You can get more information about ZW issues at zerowastehumboldt.org. One of their next projects is creating calculators so businesses and individuals can assess their personal carbon footprint and identify ways to reduce it.
But they’re always open to bringing ZW education to those who want it!
Want to get involved? They are currently seeking a new Board member and will be hiring for a Project Manager in the summer.
For more information, to send Bayside news or to just say hi, email [email protected] or call (707) 599-3192.