Congratulations to Contra Costa Fruit Rescue

Image showing the Waste Reduction Grant Winner. In the top photo, two women and one individual wearing a safety vest are standing in front of a Republic Services truck, holding an oversized check from RecycleSmart. The check is made out to 'Contra Costa Fruit Rescue' for the amount of $3,000, dated 12-15-23. The check is part of the Community Waste Reduction Grant. The RecycleSmart and Republic Services logos are visible. In the bottom photo, a group of people are in a garden, harvesting fruit from a tree as part of the food rescue initiative. A text overlay states '50,000 LBS OF FOOD RESCUED IN 2023!

We want to purchase tools and supplies needed to support our work in the RecycleSmart service area. We use long handled clippers /pruner's to reach fruit higher in the tree that should be cut, rather than pulled with a fruit picking pole, such as, citrus, figs and persimmons. We use pruning snips for fruit that is easy to reach. We also want to get safety glasses that we can offer to our volunteers that want to use them. When you are shaking apples out of a tree a whole lot of debris comes down with it. We also need sharpeners for our tools. These are small, hand held tools that each leader can have on site with them. We want to purchase small tripod orchard ladders as there are a lot of tall fruit trees in this county and this will help us get some of that harder to reach fruit.

Thank you to all of our finalists.

All Ages Recreation Downtown Lafayette

All Ages Recreation (AARD) brings reused toys and activities at least twice per month to the small 1/3 acre local plaza or nearby parking lot to enable all ages and incomes to play together. The average visitors are 20 per hour, and more during large festivals and events. Recreation near home reduces waste and promotes health. These families do not need to own a car, buy gas, or buy these toys in order to play. In addition, AARD is raising funds to add new parks and bring play features to Leigh Creekside Park and the Gazebo site on Mt. Diablo Blvd. Parks and recreation near high density housing will reduce the carbon footprint and reduce waste. AARD has partnered with the City of Lafayette in a funds matching program to enable shovel-ready designs that will more likely qualify for the annual state grant process. AARD is also exploring a partnership with the school district to expand offsite recreation for middle school students on Friday afternoons, in order to offer an healthy and high-energy alternative that will build community. Please visit for more information and see pictures of our programs in action.

Community Clean-Up Crew

Our Crew is dedicated to maintaining our community so that items like paper, plastic, styrofoam, aluminum, metal, e-waste, paint and motor oil don't wind up in our creeks and soil. We have now spawned two new litter clean-up groups - a Danville group that maintains the Diablo/I-680 interchange and a brand new Lafayette group that maintains the Pleasant Hill Road/Hwy 24 interchange.

Composting to Save the World!

If we had more monitors during our lunch period to help guide our student population (roughly 850 students) as to where to put the things they throw "away," our diversion rate would greatly improve. We would need to pay teachers to help out since our lunch hour is not a time we can ask them to "work."Just as important is having our students really understand that what they toss goes somewhere, not just "away." If every student took just a few seconds to think about what could be composted (returned to the earth!), it would have a huge impact on our small school environment, as well as our greater community. And of course, recycling those items that could possibly be repurposed will also make a huge difference. It's hard to change a culture, but we are committed to doing so! With some extra hands on deck, anything is possible, and my tiny team of just 7 students is willing to do the work!

Contra Costa Families in Action for Earth Day

Since 2016, Mindful Littles has established partnerships with over 40 community organizations in Contra Costa County to facilitate direct hands-on mindful service learning projects that have empowered over 8000 local youth and families to feel good, while doing good. For the scope of this project, Mindful Littles seeks grant funding to partner with Orinda Parks & Recreation Department and local Orinda high schoolers to facilitate project stations on a Community Action Day on April 20 2024 in honor of Earth Day. Mindful Littles will provide 3-4 stations of upcycling projects and activities that will be run by local teen leaders. These projects will include activities such as making bird feeders from recyclables, upcycle art, and promoting simple composting methods that can be integrated directly into the home environment and even foster science education. Families will also be provided with resources to continue engaging and practicing waste reduction practices at home.

In order to ensure a successful community project, Mindful Littles will partner with local high school environment clubs to recruit and train teen leaders in advance of the Community Action Day. Through a series of in person and virtual meetings, students will also be empowered to activate their youth voice and provide ideas for projects that local families can engage in. Further, teen leaders will be able to cultivate resources and support for families after Earth Day to sustain these practices ongoing at home.

No-turn Compost

Aerated Static Pile (ASP) composting is increasingly employed by large-scale composting facilities (including, as of 2017, the West Contra Costa Sanitary Landfill), but so far remains largely inaccessible at the household level for 3 key reasons: (1) lack of awareness, (2) perceived complexity of implementation, and (3) insufficient quantities of feedstocks to warrant such a system. This project seeks to tackle all 3 of these issues. First, by documenting and publishing the design, build, implementation, and results of a backyard ASP system, we will increase public awareness of ASP and its many benefits among the public. Second, by keeping the design as simple, affordable, and accessible as possible, and by thoroughly documenting the build process (in the form of YouTube videos, blog posts, social media, and/or other publication formats), we will show that the average resident with no special skills or knowledge is capable of assembling their own backyard ASP system. Lastly, we will also share methods of easily obtaining sufficient quantities of compost feedstocks that are currently unwanted waste products, such as wood chips from arborists, unused neighborhood yard waste, spent coffee grounds from cafes, etc.

Recycle Compost Waste Ambassadors

Sustainable Walnut Creek was asked by Walnut Creek's Arts & Recreation (Center for Community Arts) to provide volunteers for Walnut Creek's Trunk or Treat event on October 27 at Civic Park. Republic Services is to provide 8 three stream (recycle, compost & waste) recepticles at Civic Park for the event and the volunteers are to assist people disposing of items to make sure the right items are disposed in the correct containers.

The idea occured to have local high school; students living in Republic Service's service area to volunteer for this job. They would first be trained so we contacted Recycle Smart and learn that Republic Services's Sustainability Advisors in Walnut Creek could provide the training for the students.

One of the greatest benefits of having RCW Ambassadors monitoring the recepticle stations is the interaction and engagment that they have with the people disposing of items. Their pressence at the stations alone makes a big impact. The training that they receive teaches the relationship of composting and recycling to our environment, climate change and global warming. This knowledge would be shared with the people disposing of stuff. The young Ambassadors gives hope and inspiration that people take home.

Saint Mary's College

At Saint Mary’s College, we aim to promote a zero waste culture on campus starting from the first day students arrive to the day they graduate. A few notable projects underway to promote waste diversion include making sure we have proper waste sorting receptacles on our campus to help achieve our waste diversion goals, and accompanying that infrastructure with education around proper waste sorting. Additionally, we have periodic compost and recycling tabling events in our dining hall, residence halls, clubs and classes. The Free Store is one of our most popular waste diversion programs. The goals of the student-run Free Store are to reduce waste through promoting a re-use culture as well as providing access to basic supplies for members of our community who might need them. During Move Out, we collect as many reusable goods from the 1300+ students that are moving out of our residence halls by placing donation bins in each hall. This weeklong waste diversion initiative has grown into a unique partnership with Republic Services, Recycle Smart and Mount Diablo Resource Recovery. In May 2023, the Sustainable Move Out process diverted over 6 Tons of waste from the landfill. This project would fund several internships - see below.

Team Compost

Students will earn community service hours for their volunteer work, and faculty and parents may volunteer as well. Our faculty lunchtime Sustainability advisor will keep track of signups and hours served, as well as the signage, aprons and pickers. Our mascot "Rocky the Trash Panda" will make campus appearances to stir up enthusiasm and school spirit.