Many people are worried about the environment. They are afraid that people are making the air, water, and land dirty. They think it is not good for the future. They worry because companies that manufacture things aren't careful and can harm the environment. They worry because people throw too much away. They worry when people don't understand how to do little things to help the environment. They think that education will help people understand better.
One way people can help is to remember the saying, Reduce, reuse, recycle. Click on the words below to see what they mean.
Where does our garbage go?San Francisco garbage collections are made every week. You put your garbage can full of trash out in front of your house on a certain day every week. The garbage collectors empty it into their garbage trucks. What happens to the garbage after that? The trucks take the garbage to a landfill. A landfill is a place where they bury garbage. They try to fix the landfill so the garbage won't leak out. The garbage is covered with earth.
Most of San Francisco's garbage is sent to the Altamont Landfill. A landfill can only take a certain amount of garbage. After it is full, it can't take any more. If we send less garbage to the landfill, we will be able to use it longer.
San Francisco Waste DiversionCalifornia law says that all cities must have 50% waste diversion. Only 50% of their waste can go to the landfill. In 2002, San Francisco set a goal of 75% waste diversion by 2010. Click the button to see how San Francisco is doing.
San Francisco RecyclingAt first, the garbage collection companies gave San Francisco residents a blue box for their recyclables. People had to separate the newspapers from the bottles and the cans. Then they started a new program called the Fantastic Three. In the new program, residents get three carts of different colors. The blue one is for recyclables, the green one is for food and yard trimmings, and the black one is for other garbage. You can mix all the recyclable material together.
Questions and Answers
Why does San Francisco collect food scraps?San Francisco is the first large city in the United States to have a citywide collection of food scraps. San Francisco has about 7,000 food establishments. Food waste is more than 25 percent of all the waste in the city. This is a pretty high number, so it's important to find a way to use the food waste and reduce the amount of garbage that goes to the landfill.
What happens to the compostables in the green cart?Composting takes organic matter and makes it into a soil-like mixture that can help plants grow better. The San Francisco garbage collectors take more than 300 tons of organic material each day to a compost facility near Vacaville. The compost has many nutrients that plants need. The finished compost goes to commercial nurseries, companies that make potting soil, almost 200 vineyards, and some farms. Here are two pictures from the compost facility. You can see the plastic covers that help make it hot so the material can change into compost.
How can you keep the old food and put it in the green cart?You can put your food scraps in a paper milk carton or a Chinese restaurant take-out box. You can wrap them in newspaper or a paper bag. You can buy special bags that are compostable. A list of stores that sell special compostable bags is here.
What happens to the recyclables in the blue cart?The recyclables get sorted at the Solid Waste Transfer and Recycling Center. Here are some pictures:
What if you have things too big for the carts?The garbage collectors will make two free bulky item collections from each residence each year. Owners of apartment buildings can have one collection per building per year. Tenants of apartment buildings can also have one collection per year. The pick up is for up to ten items, placed at the curb. You can read more about how to prepare the materials for a bulky item collection and what is and is not acceptable and recyclable here.
If your garbage collector is Sunset Scavengers, call 330-1300 for information and to schedule a pick-up. If you have Golden Gate Disposal & Recycling, call 626-4000.
What if you have materials that are hazardous waste?Some materials are considered hazardous waste and should not be thrown into the garbage. These include paint, motor oil, fertilizer, pesticides, mercury thermometers, fluorescent bulbs, batteries, and electronics. However, some of them can be recycled. You can recycle batteries at Walgreens. You can recycle fluorescent bulbs, electronics, motor oil and latex paint. For a list of places near you that take these items, click here and then use the Ecofinder on the left side of the page.
How much do we pay for garbage collection?As of July 1, 2010, the monthly rate for a 32-gallon container is $27.55 For a 20-gallon mini-container it is $21.21. If you don't fill your garbage container, you can save money by getting the smaller mini-container. If your household gross annual income is under $21,855 for one person or a couple, or $33,075 for a family of four, you can pay lifeline rates. The Lifeline Rates for garbage are $20.66 a month for a 32-gallon can, and $15.91 per month for a 20-gallon can.
What is the Artist-in-Residence Program?The goal of the Artist-in-Residence Program is to educate people about recycling. San Francisco Recycling & Disposal, Inc. pays artists to make art from things they find in San Francisco's garbage. During the time they are working, they talk to students and tour groups about their experiences making art from trash. At the end of their time, there is a show where people can come and see their work. Many artists are interested in joining this program. You can see some of the artists and their work at the Norcal Website.
Click here to take a test.It will be in a new window, so you can come back to this window or use the back button for page one if you need help finding the answers.