Public Health is…concerned with our environment

I normally think of myself as a “with-it” public health professional that knows what it means to care for the environment.  I bring my cloth bag to the grocery store to cut down on the use of plastic bags.  I walk when driving isn’t necessary.  I don’t drain hazardous items into the storm drain.  For pete’s sake, I lug around a huge metal water bottle all day so as not to use plastic.  However, when I finish my lunch, and I approach the various bins to dispose of my waste, nervousness and dread paralyze me.  I should know what goes in which bin, but what about that paper plate with a waxy coating?  Or the cup that is now soiled with cold coffee?  The soaked tea bag?  The plastic wrapping that my delicious burrito came in?

Never fear, we’ve created a condensed list to save you from embarrassment in front of “greener” friends or colleagues. 

Green Bin: paper towels, food scraps, food soiled paper including wax-lined paper plates and cups, shredded paper, “compostable” food packaging and cutlery (will say so on the packaging), tea bags, coffee filters

NO plastic bags, empty milk cartons, wrappers

Blue Bin: clean paper, clean cardboard, plastic bottles marked with the number 1 or 2 on the bottom, glass bottles, aluminum cans

Please note that guidelines differ by city.  For additional information, we encourage you to check out these links:

To help your youngest of your friends and family members get enthusiastic about reducing, reusing, and recycling, here is an entertaining video for you to share:

11 thoughts on “Public Health is…concerned with our environment

  1. Thanks for this. I thought I was the only one that went through trepidation when trying to figure out where to dispose most of my items. It becomes an intense experience when confronted by the bins, especially when you’re a student at Cal because the bar is so high to get things right concerning. I fear one false move will lead to a snicker or potential excommunication. But thanks for helping reduce some of my angst by clearing marking what goes where. All joke aside, I am a lot more informed due to the measures put in place. Great job!

  2. Thanks Sonny, glad you enjoyed it! We definitely thought that we weren’t the only students/people in town who were befuddled by the bins from time to time!

  3. Thank you for this post. Recycling (and composting) are two great ways that everyone can do their part to make a greener and healthier world. The problems you’ve identified here transcends communities, languages, and educational backgrounds. As a result of the poor public messaging, too many people are just opting out of participating in the recycling process. As public budgets for recycling get slashed, we need private funders to step up and aid our cities and local municipalities in doing better public awareness and education on recycling.

  4. Thanks for this post. The blog looks awesome so far. A great addition would be links to guidelines for other localities in the Bay Area. Also, are there resources that explain recycling and composting from a public health perspective? Links to those would be appreciated!

  5. Thanks for this. Just today I saw someone say to his friend, “is this compostable?” as he stood by the row of bins. He wasn’t sure, so he threw it in the trash. I wonder how many times a day that happens?! Thanks for spreading awareness!

  6. I think the trash ends up being the default way too often because people are so unsure about the green and recycle bins … so I think the more awareness the better! Hopefully, people will begin to understand how easy it is to recycle and compost and we can begin to reduce the landfill bin!

  7. Thanks for the pointers! The recycling managers here at the co-op go crazy trying to get us to put our waste in the right bins…although maybe we have a hard time of it because there are six of them! The three you suggested is a cake walk by comparison!

  8. The colored bins (or is it bins of color? that sounds more p.c.) always make me awkward-sweat. Given that I’m always in the public eye, I have to admit I sometimes avoid the bins altogether because I’m afraid of making a mistake and setting a bad example for my fans.
    Thanks to your pointers, I’m less likely to slip up and end up on the cover of US Weekly for the WRONG reasons.

    1. I’ll keep an eye out in US weekly for any unsightly photos of you Kenneth! If this blog has managed to prevent a major public faux pas, I suggest that your publicist get in touch with the CHL Fellows to discuss possible compensation!

  9. For plastic why can they only recycle– “narrow necked bottles, such as water, soda, milk, juice, and detergent bottles marked with 1 or 2 symbol on the bottom.”– in Berkeley. I always think of plastic recycling 1-7 (minus styrofoam) as the backbone of waste management and compost to be somewhat of a luxury that follows a well-established plastic waste management program.

    Why is Berkeley behind the times with its plastic recycling?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s