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Local ‘Zero Waste’ teacher and champion Sunny Galbraith gets North Bay Spirit Award


When Sunny Galbraith dropped her cellphone into a toilet she didn’t do what most people do — console herself by turning the accident into an opportunity for an upgrade. Instead, the Sebastopol teacher and environmental activist looked for a refurbished phone to replace it.

“She had a Blackberry until a year ago,” said her friend and fellow activist Abigail Zoger in describing Galbraith’s dedication to minimalist consumption, even on a micro level. “Living in a modern society it’s hard to not leave a footprint. But Sunny is a person who tries to walk her talk.”

Galbraith, 45, tries to leave as small a print as possible. She rides an electric bike to work, brings her own plate to events, washes plastic bags to line dry for re-use. She doesn’t even own a dryer.

It’s all in service to her pet cause — reducing the amount of waste in the world.

A science and math teacher at Orchard View School in Sebastopol, Galbraith founded and oversees a student-run compost and recycling program on campus and at the neighboring Apple Blossom School. Over the past 13 years, the effort has diverted more than 90,000 pounds of organic and recyclable material from the landfill while instilling in children an ethos for the environment. The compost that comes from their worm bins is sold for $5 a bag.