Noe Valley Voice April 2000

Restate Your Recycling Vows on Earth Day

Alex Nicole Leviton

Ever try to convince your kids that jumping on an overflowing trash bin of plastic bottles and lawn trimmings is a game? Do you often find yourself staring at an envelope with a plastic window for hours, trying to deduce its recyclability?

As Earth Day (April 22) approaches, Debby Dunn, outreach coordinator for San Francisco's Recycling Program, has some tips, both old and new, for Noe Valley recyclers. By following her advice, we all can enjoy a marriage between reducing waste and saving the environment.

Something Old

Since April of 1989 (when the city's program started), we Noe Valleyans have been diligently recycling our spent Evian bottles and Jolt cola cans. Each week on pickup day, we've toted our blue recycling bins out to the curb. Good work, 99, says Dunn, but if we've lost track of exactly what items are kosher to drop in the bin, here's the list:

* Glass bottles and jars

* Aluminum foil and cans

* Tin (including pie tins)

* Empty paint and aerosol cans

Plastic "bottleneck" bottles that are marked with either a #1 or #2 -- such as detergent bottles, milk jugs, and shampoo bottles -- are okay, too. Just check for the number on the bottom of the container.

Non-bottleneck plastic containers, such as yogurt or cottage cheese tubs, are not recyclable. However, Dunn suggests, "These are reusable as Tupperware. You can loan one to a friend, and who cares if you ever get it back?"

Most paper products that are apt to darken your doorstep can be recycled as well. They include:

* All junk mail, including envelopes with windows

* Newspapers, catalogs, and magazines

* Cereal and other food boxes

* White office paper or colored paper

* Paper bags and packaging

Just tie your papers with string, or load them in a paper grocery bag. Leave the bundle or bag by the curb.

Can cardboard be recycled? Yes, but "cardboard should be flattened and bundled and set next to your blue bins or next to your bags," Dunn says.

Dunn's office also teaches and facilitates composting, for those with or without back yards. "Any San Francisco resident can go to a free composting class and learn how to compost," says Dunn. They can then buy a discounted composting bin at Cole Hardware (3312 Mission St.), or go to one of the bi-yearly composting sales at Goodman's Lumber at 445 Bayshore Blvd. The next one will be held Saturday, May 13, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Something New

"The latest thing for Noe Valley," Dunn says, "is the On-Call Bulky Items Collection Program. Every resident has the opportunity twice a year to call Sunset Scavenger Company and have all their major bulky items picked up for free."

Dunn explains that residents used to have to wait for the two scheduled pickups a year, but now they can call any time--say, after moving day or spring cleaning -- to have those items picked up.

Sunset Scavenger will haul away up to five non-recyclable items for free, and as many recyclable items as you want. Recyclable items run the gamut from bicycles to metal to tree branches. Non-recyclable items include mattresses, couches, appliances, painted wood, old TV sets, and used motor oil.

Paint and most hazardous wastes aren't a part of this program yet, but you can make a quick stop Thursdays through Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility by 3Com Park.

Something Borrowed

However, Dunn says, many of your discards can be spared the dump. Perhaps they just need a new home. You know what they say about one man's trash....

Dunn offers, "Before you put anything out, see if you can donate it." The San Francisco Recycling Program has a variety of directories, either online or by calling the office, of places that take old furniture or computers. And churches such as the Noe Valley Ministry often hold community-wide garage sales.

Something Blue

Need a blue bin, or have a question about recycling or garbage collection? Call Sunset Scavenger at 330-CURB (330-2872).

The San Francisco Recycling Program can be reached at 554-3400 or its web site at You'll find tons of information about what you can recycle, where to donate household items, when the next composting class is, and just about anything having to do with recycling, reusing, or reducing waste.

For more information or directions to the Household Hazardous Waste Collection Facility, call 554-4333.