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Agency Update - Summer 2019

Congratulations Business Efficiency Awardees!

Business Efficiency Awards

Six Alameda County businesses representing a wide range of industries were selected for their efforts to reduce waste to landfill through waste prevention, reuse, recycling, and composting. They are:

  • Honolulu BBQ – Alameda, Excellence in Disposable Foodware Reduction
  • Isla Restaurant – Newark, Excellence in Recycling & Composting
  • Semifreddi’s – Alameda, Excellence in Energy Efficiency, Recycling & Composting
  • Sodexo at Fremont Unified School District – Fremont, Excellence in Food Waste Reduction
  • UrbanBloc – San Leandro, Excellence in Waste Reduction & Reuse
  • Vericool, Inc. – Livermore, Excellence in Recycling & Composting

The 2019 awardees were recognized at the May 22 StopWaste Board meeting. 

Environmental Educator Training Opportunity

SWEET

StopWaste is now accepting applications for its fourth annual StopWaste Environmental Educator Training (SWEET) starting September 4. This innovative program is designed to enhance the skills of community leaders, environmentalists, and sustainability and food waste prevention advocates within Alameda County.  

Participants who complete the seven-week training program will become certified StopWaste Environmental Educators, and graduates are eligible to partner with StopWaste by offering technical assistance to residential communities interested in food waste reduction within Alameda County. Applications due by Aug. 8, 2019.

Join Us for Plastic Free July

Plastic Free July

What: Join the millions of people across the globe reducing plastic in their lives. Show and inspire others with your actions as part of #PlasticFreeJuly.

Why: Plastic is a mounting problem threatening our environment and communities. Estimates show that eight million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean every year, and that 91 percent of all plastic is never recycled. 

Get involved: Start by choosing a few single-use plastic items, such as plastic utensils, or takeaway coffee cups and identify reusable alternatives to those items and commit to using them instead. (Bonus points for reusing things like glass containers that you already have.) PlasticFreeJuly.org offers simple resources to get started. 

Share your tip: Share a photo or video on social media, i.e., carrying your reusable utensils and coffee mug or skipping packaging by shopping locally or buying in bulk. Remember to tag StopWaste on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and include the hashtags #StopWasteJuly and #PlasticFreeJuly so we can cheer you on! See a local business, farmer’s market, or organization that is providing reusable alternatives to single-use plastics? Take a photo and share their success as well. You can also email photos to socialmedia@stopwaste.org and we’d be happy to share them on our channels.

Thanks for being part of the solution!

Employee Spotlight

Robin Plutchok

Program Manager

Robin Plutchok joined StopWaste in June 2001, helping cities roll out the curbside food scrap recycling program, promoting multifamily recycling, and managing the backyard compost bin sales program. Before StopWaste, she worked in public information and as a staff scientist for an environmental consulting firm focused on water resource management. She is a graduate of Amherst College with a degree in Theater and Dance. 

What do you do at StopWaste?

I have had a few different roles during my time here (I’m celebrating my 18th anniversary this month!), but I am now primarily focused on advertising and social media outreach for our food waste reduction team through our countywide Stop Food Waste campaign. I also manage the countywide used oil recycling campaign, our online search tool, RecycleWhere? and represent Alameda County on the Bay Area Recycling Outreach Coalition (BayROC)- a collaboration among Bay Area cities, counties, and agencies to promote personal action around reducing waste. I recently started working with the packaging team with a special focus on meal kit packaging to help develop sustainability guidelines and best practices.

What are some takeaways from the last 18 years?

It’s important that our messages have an emotional resonance to inspire action; facts alone don’t always influence people to take action. It’s finding that magic place where a story or call to action resonates and has a clear, single action – whether it’s bringing your own coffee cup, putting your food scraps in the green bin, or storing your produce properly. It’s easy to focus on the negative aspects of environmental issues; turning that around to come up with a positive personal action, perhaps with a touch of humor, that is doable and realistic that reaches the larger community is the sweet spot.
 
What is your favorite part of working at StopWaste?

It’s fulfilling to work for a mission -driven organization, feeling like we are leaders driving change, and working toward a mission that I also strongly believe in.  I really love working with my colleagues who are smart, passionate, resourceful, and fun. It’s motivating to see my colleagues live their environmental ethics so passionately in their personal lives, but in a way that is grounded in reality. I’ve also been inspired by how passionate many public servants in our county are about driving change – both working within the existing systems and pushing the boundaries of those systems – to become leaders locally and beyond.  

How has working at StopWaste impacted you?

I have always been pretty environmentally driven. For example, when I was in college we did not have on campus recycling, so I was part of program to pick up the cans and bottles and drive them in a van to a local place called Soda and Pet Food City for recycling. After that I served as an Environmental Educator in the Peace Corps in Paraguay, and saw the unfortunate packaging shift from refillables to disposables without any recycling program in place. When I was younger, I wanted to be a marine biologist or an actor. Somehow, working on communications around environmental issues feels like a good fusion of my passions.

What do you do when not working?

I am someone who has had many passions over time – for several years I trained and did triathlons, and performed with a found-object puppet theater company. I currently spend most of my time with my family of two young boys trying to reduce our own waste in our house, which seems like a regular struggle. Really, though, I try to keep the train moving – keeping my children’s media habits in check, avoid stepping on Legos, and getting them to eat (rather than compost) green veggies.