2019 Board of Directors – Candidate Statements

Five NCRA members have submitted ballot statements to serve on the 2018 NCRA Board of Directors. There are six positions to fill. Voting opens  November 15, 2018, and ends November 29, 2018, at 11:59 pm.

Custom voting links will be emailed to members on November 15th. If you do not receive our email but believe you should (i.e. your membership is current as of November 15, 2018), please email the office and we will email the link again.

CANDIDATES 2018: Nik Balachandran, Alina Bekkerman, Hilary Near, Doug Brooms, and Jessica Jane Robinson.

Nik Balachandran – Once again, I would like to humbly submit my candidacy for this important position on the NCRA Board. 2018 has been the most challenging yet equally enlightening year of my life. I had to juggle between being a business owner, NCRA board member, and a new dad. 

I was honored to fill a vacant board position this year. It was exciting and I was armed with the passion to advance zero waste goals. I called senate and assembly members on the legislative bills that NCRA supported. I actively promoted and volunteered at NCRA events such as Recycling Update, Zero Food Waste Forum and the Summer Picnic which were successfully attended. I enjoyed collaborating with other members to organize tours, write articles and post the latest available jobs for the NCRA Newsletter.

If I get re-elected, my goals are to:

  • broaden NCRA’s membership reach to more industries, municipalities, and communities in Northern California
  • write support letters to advance zero waste
  • reduce illegal dumping and littering that are plaguing our streets, highways, and waterways

Since our daughter’s birth, I have had a renewed sense of purpose to take on difficult tasks and show her that hard work can result in making a positive change.

Alina Bekkerman – As a Zero Waste advocate, I believe the next two years are critical and require a significant paradigm shift from a consumer mindset to a low-energy lifestyle.  I humbly submit my candidacy to join the NCRA 2019 board, in service to our broader community and NCRA members.

In 2014 I first had an epiphany about the importance of waste stream management and recycling education while abroad in Ecuador, where I started a small program call Proyecto Puerto López Limpio. Upon my return home, I was first introduced to Bay Area initiatives as a volunteer for RU in 2015. In 2016, I joined the Zero Waste Youth Convergence planning committee, helping with fundraising, communications, and logistics. I co-directed the 2017 ZWYC, and continue to serve on the planning team for the 2018 event in a supporting role.

I would like to join the NCRA board to help collaborate on event production and education initiatives for RU and throughout the year. I believe that together we are a stronger movement, and would like to help connect individuals, organizations, and communities, promoting programs that inspire and educate the Bay Area and beyond.

Doug Brooms – I’ve served on the Board for five years and would be honored to serve another term. I look forward to Board meeting deliberations, and helping with and participating in NCRA events. I’ve represented NCRA at each “Oakland Green Expo” and other similar events.

I’m a co-chair of the Zero Waste Advocacy Committee. I’ll continue with the evaluation and selection of new CA legislature Bills, and drafting of support letters. I’ll promote greater Bills support collaboration among environmental organizations in areas of common interests. I’ll continue with timely updates to the ZWAC Webpage, and work towards increasing its appeal and usefulness.  I’ll continue promoting awareness about the annual America Recycles Day, and other means to encourage greater recycling participation. I’m still the volunteer recycling coordinator at my apartment building. I enjoy work doing sorting (Resource Recovery) at First Fridays and other Bay Area venues.

I have sustaining commitments to climate protection, and to social and other environmental justice causes. However, Zero Waste, recycling, composting and food recovery advocacy are my stronger passions, making NCRA my favorite place. I would appreciate your vote.

Hilary Near – I am submitting my candidacy to remain on the NCRA board. My two-year tenure on the board has flown by. I particularly contributed to the Membership Engagement & Activities Committee, organizing the Recycle Bicycle Tour 2017 and volunteer opportunities at City Team Oakland. I plan to continue to support NCRA’s annual events now that I’ve learned some of the behind-the-scenes details and develop partnerships with related organizations to deepen and expand our membership.

I have worked in the Zero Waste field for a decade, primarily in program management and outreach related to municipal residential and commercial Zero Waste programs. I currently serve the City and County of San Francisco Department of the Environment as a zero waste assistant.

I would appreciate the chance to continue on the NCRA board as an experienced, passionate, creative and open servant to our NCRA membership and our aspirational goals.

Jessica Jane Robinson – My name is Jessica Robinson and it has been an honor to serve on the NCRA board since 2013. NCRA has been a part of my career supporting me when I was Miss Alameda and Recycle Woman, to my evolution as Resilience, as superhero addressing climate change through zero waste, sustainability, and cultural and social change. I have been a Board of Director since 2013. 2013, I served as treasurer for the first time in my life, and under the line of fire, I helped NCRA’s finances become organized and supported the process of getting the taxes in order. After, that growth spurt I have helped with social media and finding new ways of reaching out to other demographics, like encouraging NCRA to support what is now Girls Inc of the Island City’s Ethical Fashion Show and other projects that are innovative and reach a broader audience. I am dedicated to the cause to help heal the planet, and if you feel I bring value to the board, then please support me for another term. For more information and my bio visit www.rbrorg.com much love and thank you for being a warrior for the planet.

Zero Food Waste Forum – Presentations, Program Guide, and SB1383 Summary

Thank you Zero Food Waste Forum Attendees, Speakers, Volunteers and Sponsors!

Your presence helped to make this event a great success and your enthusiasm and positive spirit helped make our time together both productive and fun.  We wish you all the best and hope that you continue to be engaged with ensuring food goes to its highest and best use and organics stay out of landfill.  Stay tuned for upcoming events from NCRA and please consider becoming a member.

As promised, we have linked here the presentations, the Program Guide, and the Summary of SB1383.

1 – MartineBoswell

2 – JustinMalan

3 – MelissaRomero

4 – BarbaraHamilton

5 – IeshaSiler-AlysonSchill

6 – RobinMartin

7 – AnnalisaBelliss-NancyDeming

8 – DanaFrasz

9 – DarbyHoover

10a – WendyShafir

10b – WendyShafir

11 – NateClark

12 – StevenFinn

ZFWF Program Guide

SB1383 Summary

Chou Hall – Greenbuilding It Up

By Nikhil Balachandran, Zabble Inc. and NCRA Board Member

When I signed up for the Chou Hall tour on a short notice, I wondered how many people would actually show up. I was surprised to see at least 15 people at the entrance of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. The crowd was good mix of waste industry folks, consultants, non-profits, sustainability managers from private companies and curious individuals. Kudos to NCRA’s Memberships, Events and Activities Committee (MEAC) who quickly coordinated the tour with the UC team and Juliana Gerber for sending out the sign up emails to orchestrate a successful event within a couple weeks.

It wasn’t hard to spot the right group when every attendee had either a reusable coffee mug or water bottle. We were greeted by the Green Team – Danner-Doud Martin, Assistant Director of the Berkeley-Haas International Business Development Program, Jessica Heiges, a Master’s student in the College of Natural Resources and NCRA Member Lin King, Cal Zero Waste Manager and veteran at championing university recycling programs.

After a quick round of introductions, we were made aware of Haas’ guiding principles etched on the walls in front of us.

  1. Question the Status Quo
  2. Confidence Without Attitude
  3. Student Always
  4. Beyond Yourself

So it’s no surprise that Chou Hall is aiming to be the first academic building to achieve the trifecta in Green Building certifications: LEED Platinum, WELL and TRUE Zero Waste.

A fully donor funded building, the 6 story building has received $60m in funding for the construction of the 80,000 sq ft building. It consists of 8 tiered classrooms with a total of 858 classroom seats, a 300 person event space, numerous study rooms and a cafeteria.

From the moment you enter the building, you can feel the openness in design and a freshness in architectural style. Having opened only a year back, Chou Hall has been making steady progress towards diverting more than 90% of discards from landfill every month. This is a mandatory requirement by TRUE, among others that ensure contamination is kept under 10% and mandates the upper management to adopt a Zero Waste policy.

There is around 24,000 sq ft of exterior windows that provides ambient lighting, reducing the need for interior lighting, thus reducing electricity consumption by 38% compared to similar sized buildings. Not yet functional is a solar installation on the 6th floor balcony, with sweeping views of the Bay Area, that also provides shade. A greywater recycling system that harvests rainwater was installed to reduce water consumption by 40%.

Pack-in, Pack-out. Don’t Pout! – Everything in the cafeteria is served in reusable-ware, compostable, or recyclable containers. To top it all, Chou Hall does not have any landfill bins. You heard it right! According to Danner, their pack-in, pack-out policy for trash helps students and staff be aware of the waste they generate. The students are encouraged to find the landfill bins outside the building. To facilitate that, the Green team switched to a vendor that made compostable products that are 100% plant based and BPI and ASTM D6400 certified. All the paper has 100% post-consumer recycled content. There are also no chips or candy bags available in the cafeteria and that was an uphill battle that all departments eventually came to common ground on. Jessica Heiges made an interesting analogy to the no-indoor-landfill-bins policy likening it to the smoking ban on campus. That it takes a while for people to get used to and then becomes part of their routine. She also said that very little food waste is generated. Any leftovers are usually placed out on campus and is gone within minutes.

But what about all that contamination? – Oh yes! Of course. That’s where the frequent Zero Waste audits come in that are needed for the monthly reporting. The Zero Waste audits emphasize keeping track of specifics like the source of generation, category and amount. For example, the recycle bin in floor 3 had a lot of food scraps in clamshells. The Green Team meets as often as weekly to discuss their progress and make tweaks to their program. They also meet monthly with other departments and stakeholders like custodial or cafeteria staff to discuss solutions to roadblocks. Lin says contamination is also countered by consistent signage and color coding the bins and lids throughout the building. Using pop-off lids makes it easier for custodial staff to empty the bins on a regular basis to avoid overflow. Danner added that surveys were immensely helpful as an educational tool not just to measure feedback from people but to communicate how well they are doing and why they are doing it. With the mindset is to encourage research and innovation, rather than telling the staff and students what to do, Lin says the Green Team constantly comes up with innovative ideas to battle contamination issues.

With that our tour concluded and we went back to the cafe downstairs for lunch. We sat in the patio under the mighty redwoods impressed by the determination of the Green Team who were all there on a voluntary basis. We shared the latest information on the current economic condition and how they would shape the Zero Waste future.

Who’s next –  With UC’s goal to achieve Zero Waste by 2020 and to reduce MSW per capita by 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030, UC Berkeley’s Haas School has taken a strong step forward. They hope to apply their learnings from Chou Hall to other buildings on campus, share them with other campuses in the UC system and universities in the country. So, it isn’t unusual for UC Berkeley to embark on this journey, when they’ve made it a habit to ask, “Isn’t there a better way to do this?

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Member Interview – Nikhil Balachandran, 09/18

I have a relentless desire to find solutions that address sustainability and process efficiency problems by building products from inception to scale with a passion that derives its inspiration from climbing mountains and swimming in open water. My encounters with litter during hiking and open water swimming have been defining moments that have compelled me to switch my career to keep trash out of the environment.

Now CEO of Zabble Inc., I live in Walnut Creek and am happy married to Diana. We are expecting a daughter in the coming weeks.  My professional goal is to build a company that provides services and tools to quantify and categorize waste to enable a circular economy that eliminates waste, is financially efficient and protects Earth.

Read More “Member Interview – Nikhil Balachandran, 09/18”