There’s a new mayor in Oakland. Mayor Jean Quan recently celebrated her first 100 days in office by inviting local residents to go on a walking tour of some of the historic sites that gives Oakland its charm. With a new mayor comes a new administration and the opportunity to bring an energized approach to solving some of the challenges that face the city. One of the goals is to make Oakland a Sustainable City. As described by the official website, this would mean making Oakland into “a place where we can meet our current needs while ensuring that future generations can live rewarding and healthy lives.” That is certainly a noble goal. The question then becomes how to get there?
This plan actually got started back in 2006 when the Oakland City Council adopted a “Zero Waste Goal” to be achieved by the year 2020. This isn’t just about recycling, but also about taking into consideration the vast amount of resources and waste that flows through Oakland with the target to eliminate that waste all together. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be garbage. It just means finding a way to recycle, repurpose and reuse that waste in a more productive manner.
Consider the statistics. Since 2000 the amount of citywide recycling is up 33% and the amount of garbage that gets dumped into a landfill is down by a whopping 27%. How does that breakdown? This means that Oakland residents have recycled 700,000 tons of cans, bottles, magazines, junk mail, office paper, cardboard, yard trimmings and food scraps. All of that recycled material was turned around to make new cans, bottles and paper products. This saves trees, water and energy not to mention reducing the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are released into the air.
One of the campaigns used by Oakland residents is the 4 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot. Now those first three are easy to understand. The more we can reduce the better off we’ll all be. Take for instance junk mail. Did you know there is a way to stop that from coming into your home? All you need to do is contact that folks who send it to you tell them to stop. They’re required by law to do that. Less junk mail means less waste in that one category. With recycling we all know about sorting our materials and placing them in the weekly recycle pickup bins. That’s where reuse also comes into play when you start thinking about how to extend the life of products or buildings and make better use of energy resources. As for rot, this is where nature can take over. Any kind of yard trimmings, food scraps or other biodegradable material can be gathered together and picked up in a special container. This is then collected into a massive mound that breaks down and turns into amazing fertilizer that can be used to grow organic foods.
Of course this plan will only work if everyone gets involved. Outside of the recycling services provided by the city, Junk King Alameda is always on call to help Oakland residents you remove larger recyclable items like appliances, e-waster or furniture. It can all be turned around! Simply call 1-888-888-JUNK.