MARTINEZ, Calif. – City councilwoman Noralea Gipner said she was surprised to find Hawaii is still allowing styrofoam takeout boxes at restaurants.
That was no surprise to Michael Chandler, the deputy director of administrative services who spearheads the city’s Climate Action & Sustainability Programs. Martinez switched to recyclable take out containers a couple of years ago and is a leader in the field.
In Chandler’s annual report, there are four key projects that the city is working on now: Martinez Unified School District (MUSD) Recycling, City Hall Energy Upgrades, Special Compost ad Recycling events, and partnerships with Local Sustainability Organizations, according to Chandlers’s report to the City Council, Nov. 6.
The MUSD recycling program completed the fourth year that the district, New Leaf Collaborative, Republic Services and the City of Martinez has worked together to create real savings while keeping the environment clean. The collaborators also had some funding from CalRecycle annual grants to help get these programs started.
Chandler said John Swett Elementary School has saved $1,800 since November 2018, simply by recycling. The primary focus is on kindergarten through 5th-grade students at John Muir, John Swett, Las Juntas and Morello Elementary Schools. Student “Green Teams,” with support form teachers, custodians, parents, and administrators help students learn to recycle correctly and all of the time. “It becomes a habit,” Chandler observed.
City Hall energy upgrades are intended to save money and should make the building more comfortable. Not only are windows single pane, “We have trouble closing some of them,” Chandler reported.
The improvements include a new heating and air conditioning system, dual pane windows, and LED lighting upgrades. The staff is still evaluating the scope and availability of funding. This plan may change or be done in increments, depending on the availability of funds.
Chandler encouraged the public to take advantage of the free disposal of cardboard, plastic, and styrofoam at post-holiday pick-up locations on January 11, 2020. They will be from 9:00 a.a. to noon at Hidden Valley Park, and from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Martinez Yacht Harbor.
Another free service that helps with sustainability is the free compost giveaway days in March and August. It has been a regular event at the Yacht Harbor since 2016, and 732 people have come with containers to collect the free compost/fertilizer for their gardens.
The City has also earned the “Sustainer” level partner recognition by working with Sustainable Contra Costa in the 2019 Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge. At the grassroots level a group of Martinez teens has organized an effort to eliminate single-use straws and containers with reusable or compostable items. Chandler said the city is nurturing its efforts with the coordination of local businesses and business organizations.