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The Garbage Goldmine

by Sustainable Nikos on August 2, 2011 · 0 comments

in Miscellaneous Schmidt

Throughout my time working for SRELP and blogging on “,” I have continually referenced my goals of reducing “black bin” or garbage waste and increasing the volume of compost waste. However, I have only touched on or vaguely mentioned my project without going into any detail about the nuts and bolts of my task. I refrained from providing detail because although garbage is an undoubtedly important area of our lives, it isn’t particularly exciting. However, having come to the conclusion of my garbage project, I can definitively say that garbage IS something that can be exciting.

Garbage can be exciting in that one can save a boatload of money through careful and responsible waste management. In the case of SRELP’s building garbage profile, for example, Helmut was spending $3,878.05 per month to provide garbage services for the 6 buildings he manages. At several building locations, he was providing more garbage space than his tenants required. Available garbage volume is calculated by adding up the volume of available bin space (2 96 gallon bins provide 192 gallons of available bin space) and multiplying that sum by the number of garbage pickup days per week.  2 96 gallon bins picked up 7 times per week=1344 gallons of weekly available bin space.

By traveling to each building location repeatedly over the course of 2 wees and recording the amount of available volume that was being used, I was able to determine that most of our buildings use far less space than we provide.  In other words, we were paying to provide garbage volume that wasn’t being used.  We then worked to come up with a new available garbage volume that would better fit the habits and necessities of our tenants.  Upon finding said number, we called and changed our building garbage profiles for 3 out of the 6 buildings that we manage.  The results were as follows:

Original price for waste management: $3,878.05 per month

New price for waste management: $2,479.37 per month

By reducing our garbage bin reliance and applying a more eco-friendly waste management program, we saved (and will continue to save) $1,398.68 per month.  If saving almost $1,500 per month doesn’t make you excited, then just think that you can save a lot of money AND save the environment by becoming more compost and recycling conscientious.

Signing off,

A very excited SRELP intern



Mission Accomplished!

by Sustainable Nikos on July 27, 2011 · 0 comments

in Miscellaneous Schmidt

I am back! Recently, I went to our building on Bush Street with Steven and one of his colleagues from the SF Department of the Environment. We traveled from door to door, offering compost pails to the residents.  2/3 of the residents we met took the compost pails! The other 1/3 of the residents told us that we were (and I quote) “barking up the wrong tree.” 15 of the 33 residents answered the door during our entire voyage through the building!  On the whole, 11 out of the 33 residents were at home and accepted the compost bins– a  33%starting point.  I still consider this mission a success for both economic and environmental reasons:

Economically, the introduction of the compost bins allows for a reduction of garbage pickups.  After traveling to Bush street regularly  to check the volume of garbage bin space that was being used with the SRELP group, we came to the conclusion that we could reduce the garbage pickup schedule by 3 days (which saved more than $800 per month).  The compost bin will provide a new space for biodegradable waste, giving us the ability to reduce our reliance on the black bin, which saved us money.  Fortunately, San Francisco’s Recology policies ensure that compostable and recyclable waste management is a free service.  In this way, we can divert what was once garbage volume into composting volume, saving money.

Environmentally, even a 33% increase in compost use is beneficial.  True, it’s less than we would have hoped– but I am certain that through persistent phone calls and communication with our tenants, we can still convince some of the Bush street residents to help us save our planet.

Next stop, compost at Guerrero!