San Francisco Environment Department

The Bayview is Abuzz About Recycling and Composting

This spring, the San Francisco Department of the Environment (SF Environment) set its sights on the Bayview and deployed all its outreach resources for a zero waste campaign to residents.

Environment Now, SF Environment’s green jobs program, is the anchor of this campaign. Between March and July they will knock on the doors of all 8,000 single family homes in the Bayview and talk to residents about composting and recycling and those things that don’t go in any bin (like batteries and paint).

Why is this so exciting? Because there is a transformation that is taking place in this community and it’s being led by its residents.

Just ten years ago Ebony Reid, now an Environment Now Outreach Associate, would look from her balcony at the emissions coming from the Potrero Power Plant and think “the steam coming out of the power plant was cool.” Since then she has learned about the harms it brought to the community and is now working with SF Environment, which helped to shut it down. Part of that work includes being back in her community and talking to her neighbors and peers about how to achieve a sustainable, healthy and safe environment for everyone.

As a kid growing up in the Bayview, Keith Dews, Environment Now Outreach Associate and longtime Bayview resident, thought the coolest thing about a recycle bin was that it had wheels. Now that’s changed and the coolest thing about the recycling bin is that it saves resources, helps the environment, puts people to work, and saves people money. “It’s really rewarding to come back,” said Keith. “I am happy that I can speak to my fellow residents and friends about the city’s goal of zero waste. We’re out there showing people ways they can save money and conserve resources.”

SF Environment’s outreach over the last three years has hit almost every neighborhood in the city, but the Bayview is special. “I love working in the Bayview, we all do. The folks in the community are out and connected; by the time we get to the end of the block they know we’re coming and are ready to talk to us,” says James Slattery, Environment Now Assistant Coordinator. “Much of the Environment Now team has a connection to the Bayview, whether they grew up there or live there now, and because of that this isn’t just another campaign to educate residents, it’s about energizing their community and using their skills to make a difference for their family and neighbors.”

“We have found that many people wanted to compost in the first place but just didn’t know how,” says Keith Dews. “Our help has been very well received.”

Photo: Mark Boyer 

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