I finally got to have a conversation with Robin, the program manager for multi-tenant recycling with Stopwaste.org.
"I've got this project," I tell her. "It's going to be a place for people to come and experience resource sustaining things such as multi-tenant recycling, so that it's less scary for them to do at their own complex."
Robbin says, "We have many great outreach programs already. I can send you information about those, if you like."
"I've seen most of your materials. You're right, you are doing a lot. Your compost program is pretty cool."
"Do you know," she tells me, "That 44% of our weekly refuse collection is food waste? Almost half of what people put in the trash is food. It's just crazy."
"44%? Wow, at my home I guess we're doing pretty good. We throw out almost no food waste. We compost, and put a little bit into the green yard scraps bin once in a while."
"You're in Alameda? Yes, the food scraps in the green waste is a pretty good program."
I say, "Well, if 44% of the trash pick-up is food, and not going in to the green waste, then we ought to do something about that."
"It's all these multi-tenant complexes," she says. "We have a really hard time getting them on board with these programs."
"I bet!" I tell her. Finally, some soil to plant my idea! "That's why I think a demonstration project, to showcase what some of their choices are, would be such a great vehicle for disseminating the knowledge and techniques you've generated."
"Well," she says, "we do have the Master Composter program. We train the trainers, as it were. If someone wanted to champion the task of training someone at multi-tenant dwellings to take on the food waste, we could have that as part of the program."
I have conversations like this alot. Both Robin and I see a need: to decrease food waste going into the landfill. Both of us see that multi-tenant dwellings are places with the most resistance to changing this waste stream. So why can't I get a stronger commitment out of her? Why can't I get some excitment? All I get is a flip-floppy "well, we're doing a lot already," and "we're not getting any results," and a request to "help us keep doing the same things that aren't getting any results."
I could certainly start with this Master Composter program, since that seems to be a place of connection and initiation. I can grow the relationship from there. Still, why not try other avenues of reaching people until you get the results you want?