For the past 10 years I have been collecting data on recycling habits. It started in 2009 when I dug through the trash as part of a Chico State audit, and I have been learning ever since. If you are my friend, family member, coworker, volunteer, or have ever been out to coffee with me, I likely know what your disposal habits are (and I will never judge you for it). I can’t help it – understanding human behavior fascinates me.
I have traveled 12 countries solo exploring what waste looks like in different cultures. I have worked with nonprofits and cities in all four corners of the state as a solid waste consultant, and have analyzed business operations (for HBO, Hulu, Restoration Hardware, Whole Foods, Safeway, Peet’s Coffee to name a few). I have helped over 15 school districts and a dozen municipal agencies waste less, and have educated thousands of California residents about the 5Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, rot (and my personal favorite – relearn).
And here is what I’ve learned – People want to do the right thing. They really do. And so do you. I do too. How are we going to change the world (or California to start) and make sure our resources, air quality, health and livelihood are thriving? It starts by slowing down. Listening hard. Getting present. And understanding what drives us.
Whether it’s caring for the environment. Wanting to leave a better world for our children. Business ethics and customer loyalty. Compliance with state laws… At the end of the day, we all want to do the “right thing”. We can do better, we want to do better, and I will show you how.
What Californians Want
90% of California respondents would keep food scraps separate for composting if residential collection service was available.Waste Lessa Recycling Survey (April 2019)
“I think the most important thing is to provide people with accessible, easy to understand info on how to recycle and compost. Then, there’s no excuse for not doing it correctly.”Emma Shalaway