Bales of paper, plastic and cardboard stand ready to be shipped out from the San Francisco Recycling Center.

Despite Recycling Success, S.F.’s Zero Waste Goal Remains Elusive

A recent investigation into what happens to San Francisco’s recycling brought largely positive news: 81 percent of what residents deposit into their blue bins is recycled. That rate is among the highest in the nation. But the bigger picture of waste disposal in San Francisco is not so rosy. The city is far from reaching its ultimate goal of zero waste — and officials say it may never get there if manufacturers don’t change their ways.

Local leaders have criticized a proposed mandate that would require the majority of office workplaces to ensure 60% of their employees are working from home on any given day.

Bay Area Leaders Reject Proposed MTC Telecommute Mandate

Bay Area political leaders are throwing cold water on a controversial work-from-home rule proposed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission as part of a regional climate change plan. The proposed mandate, part of a long-term sustainability initiative called Plan Bay Area 2050, would require the majority of office workplaces to ensure 60% of their employees are working from home on any given day.

Wildfire smoke blankets the Bay Area on Wednesday, Sept. 10 2020.

Climate Activist: Era of Megafires Likely to Worsen Without Action

Tens of thousands of people are facing evacuation orders and threats to their safety as fires continue to blaze across the Western United States. These disastrous fires are one of the effects of climate change that scientists predicted, said climate activist Laura Neish, executive director of 350 Bay Area and 350 Bay Area Action.

Smoke from wildfires turns the skies above San Francisco a dark orange on the morning of Sept. 9, 2020.

Smoke-Darkened Skies a Stark Reminder of Climate Crisis

Some two dozen wildfires are burning around the state, and Bay Area residents woke up Wednesday to an eerie artificial smoky twilight. A major factor in the ever-increasing severity of these wildfires is climate change — while fires are a natural occurrence in California, fire season has been steadily expanding, and the fires are getting more ferocious over the years.

Wildfires, like the 2018 Carr Fire pictured, are one of the climate threats California may increasingly face in the coming years and that climate action plans are meant to address.

Oakland Approves Climate Equity Plan, but Organizers Say Funding Needed

Community-centered approaches are key to Oakland’s Equitable Climate Action Plan, approved unanimously by the City Council in July. It is designed to “bring about a just transition to a low carbon future” with green jobs and measures to mitigate the disparities felt by communities affected by climate change, according to a statement by Mayor Libby Schaaf.
But the plan doesn’t have guaranteed funding from the city government. For organizers, that’s a problem. “We need money to pay people to do work,” said Phoenix Armenta, who works with an environmental justice group.

San Francisco's Director of Emergency Management, Mary Ellen Carroll, warns city residents to stay inside to avoid smoke from Northern California wildfires.

S.F. Officials Warn Residents to Stay In to Avoid Smoke, May Open Respite Centers

City officials advised San Francisco residents to stay indoors wherever possible with the windows shut to protect against smoke from wildfires that has blanketed the region. On Wednesday afternoon, air quality was designated as unhealthy, though it has fluctuated. If smoke pollution deteriorates air quality to “very unhealthy,” the city will open respite centers, officials said in a press conference.

Mask distribution

As Fire Season Approaches, COVID-19 Strains Mask Supplies

The last few years’ fires are all blurring into one for Jessica Tovar, an Oakland resident and advocate at the nonprofit Local Clean Energy Alliance, a renewable energy advocacy group. “I had an office that you could see the port of Oakland from, and in those times, you could not see the port because the smoke was so thick,” she said. Oakland was among the worst-hit cities when smoke from the 2017 Tubbs wildfires spread to the areas around San Francisco Bay, lowering air quality to levels comparable to Beijing, some of the worst in the world. As California’s fall wildfire season approaches, mask shortages mean Oakland residents are at risk of exposure to both coronavirus and to toxic smoke. Tovar, who frequently interacts with underserved Oakland residents, echoed the concerns of advocacy organizations that distribute masks.