In collaboration with Los Altos Garbage Company, volunteers from GreenTown Los Altos diverted 70 percent of the refuse collected at the city's community picnic Sept. 7 from reaching landfills.
With recycling and compost bins placed next to garbage cans, volunteers with the grassroots environmental group manned the areas to educate the public about recycling and composting options.
"Composting has never been collected before," said Kacey Fitzpatrick, GreenTown's executive director.
Fitzpatrick said the organization worked with the food service company, which used compostable plates and utensils at the event.
Volunteer Barbara O'Reilly spearheaded the project with the objective of diverting 30 percent of the refuse from the waste stream and manned GreenTown's booth at the picnic.
After the event, volunteers sorted through the trash, identifying additional refuse that could be composted, and measured their success.
Of the 12 30-gallon bags of trash collected from approximately 1,000 picnic-goers, four bags were diverted for compost, four for recycling and one bag was filled with reusable items – only three bags headed to landfills.
"We can count a total of 10 bags that normally would have gone to the waste stream, and seven of them were diverted by our efforts," Fitzpatrick said.
Fitzpatrick said local residents could share ideas and brainstorm other ways to reduce waste at home and business with the Los Altos Green Ribbon Citizens Committee. Led by GreenTown Los Altos, the committee is a community-based engagement program to make specific and prioritized recommendations for Los Altos city policies and projects to increase sustainability and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Titled, "Let's Talk Trash," the meeting is scheduled 6:30-9:30 p.m. Oct 6 in the Christ Episcopal Church auditorium, 1040 Border Ave., Los Altos. Light refreshments will be served.
For more information, visit www.GreenTownLosAltos.org.