Thursday, September 28, 2023

Emerald Keepers Attend Zero Waste Symposium

The San Diego County 10th Annual Zero Waste Symposium hosted by Zero Waste San Diego focused on local and global waste dynamics, connected the dots between purchasing and disposal choices, and impacts felt locally and throughout the world. The event showcased efforts around the world – as well as in our region— aimed at reducing what goes into landfills. Expert speakers from across the greater San Diego area highlighted organizational, county, and municipal strategies to limit use of the most challenging waste, centering largely on the question of single-use plastics and efforts to compost.

Emerald Keepers interns from Coronado High School.
Emerald Keepers interns from Coronado High School.

“Emerald Keepers represented powerfully, bringing the largest group of attendees, which included our interns from Coronado High School,” explained Board Member Christina Slentz.

The cities of Chula Vista, San Diego, Encinitas, and Carlsbad all touted plastic bans to reduce waste, cut cost, and improve health for their respective communities. County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, Surfrider Foundation, and EDCO along with representatives from many other organizations – to include Coronado’s Emerald Keepers –presented.

“My favorite part of the symposium was learning about the bills currently in the legislative process,” said Emerald Keepers intern Abigail Pearson. “This helped bring to my attention the magnitude of work our society still must do to maintain a healthy and balanced environment, while also giving me hope that our future local and global impacts will be beneficial, as opposed to detrimental.”

“I was humbled by the invitation to speak at this year’s Symposium,” said Amy Steward, president of Emerald Keepers. “It was heartwarming to see so many people around the world and in San Diego County working to make their cities sustainable. Local action is where real change takes place.”

Acknowledging that Coronado is often absent from the environmental space, Steward shared Emerald Keepers’ many initiatives in Coronado highlighting Emerald Keepers high school interns’ efforts to make their campus zero waste: designate elementary school classrooms as Emerald Green, Ocean Blue; host a camp for elementary students; and expand cup reduction programs at coffee shops.

Dylan Berk, an Emerald Keepers’ intern heading the zero-waste initiative at the high school, said, “The symposium was so interesting as we learned about what other cities and schools around San Diego are doing to go zero waste. They shared lots of great ideas for what Coronado could do.”

For the first time, the City of Coronado sent a city employee, Ofelia Andrade, to the annual event. Emerald Keepers was delighted to make her part of their team.

Inspired by the symposium’s energy and ideas, Emerald Keepers departed knowing it wouldn’t take much for Coronado to do more. Learning that the average Coronadian produces 9.5 pounds of trash each day compared to cities across the bridge averaging 4.4 pound of trash per day (according to EDCO), there is ample room for improvement by every person.

“The Symposium was a great experience to gain knowledge of our environment, and, even more importantly, what is being done to protect it,” explained Emerald Keepers intern, Abi Brownlee. “There is always more to learn, but the Zero Waste Symposium was a great way to hear from many different perspectives and organizations.”

Emerald Keepers Intern, Sienna Pearson, said, “The Zero Waste Symposium was a call for action that everyone needs to hear. It was impactful how many people are working with schools to make society more sustainable. It also made me realize how much more still needs to be done. What I enjoyed most about the Symposium was that I got to connect to experts on both a local and international scale.”