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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.


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Petaluma crafting goal of zero waste by 2030


With nearby landfills expected to reach their capacity in the coming decades, Petaluma officials are pursuing a zero waste goal that could also help lay the foundation for future policies on climate change.

City officials are currently ironing out the details of a resolution that will ask the Petaluma community to reduce its landfill deposits by more than 90% within 11 years by reusing many items.

Petaluma’s garbage is dumped at the Redwood Landfill in Novato, which is expected to reach its permitted capacity in 2032, said Patrick Carter, management analyst for Petaluma’s Public Works and Utilities Department.

An expansion beyond its permitted limit might be possible, he said, but that could lead to future cost increases that would trickle down to households and businesses.

The entire Bay Area will hit its capacity by 2058, according to a 2016 report by CalRecycle, the state agency that regulates landfills.

“That’s not too far in the future,” Carter said. “Just like we’ve done with water conservation and energy efficiency programs when we’re presented with a challenge like that, we’ve found that prevention is more effective than remediation.”


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SCWMA is now Zero Waste


PRESS RELEASE: For 27 years, you’ve known us as the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (SCWMA), but starting in 2019, our new name is Zero Waste Sonoma. Our mission and values will stay the same, but our name and logo are changing to better reflect our identity as a government agency separate from, but related to, Sonoma County. This new brand also captures the regional commitment to achieving zero waste by 2030. This means diverting 100% of all material from landfills and into more beneficial use. Our new colors and streamlined design were thoughtfully chosen to match the progressive community we serve and increase accessibility to a broader and more diverse audience.

As the joint powers authority for the unincorporated area and nine cities and towns in Sonoma County, we continue to be the local government authority on recycling and solid waste disposal. Zero Waste Sonoma exists to serve you: the residents and businesses of Sonoma County. We want to help you reduce, reuse, recycle, and discard all materials in the safest and most environmentally responsible way possible.