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Trimming the Wasteline
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera


Shirley King with used and unrecyclable water filters Photo Art Olson.  Click on photo to enlarge.    

Moving from solid waste to zero waste – consider ‘the obstacle is the path’ - but how does our community mark that path and with haste? The continuing obstacle for us is our discarded materials from daily living. We throw away the equivalent of our body weight every month, but we can no longer accept that there is an “away”. Most of our discards are collected at the curb, some are recycled or composted, but sadly most are relegated to landfills – buried or burned – out of sight, out of mind. What is derived from our consumption are environmental pollutants – piles of trash and greenhouse gases – less snow at Sochi and more acid for Del Mar’s marine life. So where should the path go? Toward Zero Waste of course! And the trailhead for Del Mar is an official and committed Zero Waste Resolution by our City Council.

In San Diego County the cities of Chula Vista, El Cajon, Oceanside and San Diego have pronounced strategic plans for the road to zero waste. For some time we have been overshadowed by San Francisco where 100% waste diversion by reduction and recycling – sending nothing to landfill or incineration - is their goal for 2020, and over 75% is currently recycled or reused. The local coastal city that glows proudly with its Green Team is the City of Oceanside. Former Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez described at the Feb. 4th Zero Waste Symposium that her city’s path was set with its waste management contract in 2010 by including zero waste goals. After two years Oceanside has recycled 72% of its disposed material, and it requires all special events to use a zero waste program. Reducing consumer materials everywhere is Oceanside’s preoccupation.

What is the road to Zero for Del Mar? The first action is to address the question that we all face – Do we want to purchase something that can’t be recycled or reused? The California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) advocates for changing the way products are designed and manufactured and holding producers responsible for the life cycle impacts of their products. To date 137 California municipalities and organizations have passed Resolutions to support Extended Producer Responsibility – policies advocating State legislation that will drive improvement in product design and packaging. The City of Del Mar should adopt and send to its State Assembly Representative, Speaker Toni Atkins, its own Extended Producer Responsibility Resolution.

Just like the City of Oceanside, Del Mar can adopt its visionary goals in a Resolution with a strategic plan for Zero Waste and begin to reduce what is currently placed in its residential curbside grey bins. Just like the City of Chula Vista, Del Mar can establish Environmentally Preferable Purchasing and Practices policies – choosing products having the least impact on the environment.
In addition we could follow our own Fairgrounds, whose diversion rate is 92% with the help of its Vermi Tech Worm Bin that digests the consumer food waste - Del Mar could develop the expectation that our franchised hauler collect our compostable food discards, which weigh in at 30% of our typical household waste.
We can trim our waste lines, scale down our grey bins, and put them out less often for collection – maybe just once a month. That’s a start on the road to Zero Waste.


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