Coro Fellowship: Getting hip to the scene

Things I learned during my time in Hayward’s Environmental Services Department 

by Arianna Bankler-Jukes

As I finished my last meeting at UES, I turned to the head of the department and said, “I am basically an analyst now, so if you want to hire me, you are more than welcome to.” Now, there was no physical way I could have jumped from fellow to analyst in six weeks, but I did learn an incredible amount during my time in Hayward’s Environmental Services department. While I could sit here spewing out all the cool stuff I now know, I’ll limit it to my top three favorite tidbits of info.

These three bits of info only touch the surface of all that is going on in Hayward and locally. The best part is that there are so many small changes we can make in order to be environmentally friendly citizens, if it wasn’t for the environmental services department in Hayward, I would not be as hip to these tips. Thanks Hayward U&ES!

1. Free things! Did you know that you could go to city hall and pick up a free replacement showerhead and sink faucet? Let me put a little more emphasis on an important part of that… you got these things for FREE! I love free things. I also love environmentally sustainable things. So free environmentally sustainable things are really some of the best double whammies out there. The shower and faucet heads have an aerator function, adding air to the water flow so that the pressure feels the same but less water is used. It is super easy to replace; you literally twist off the old showerhead and twist on the new one. Getting one from Hayward city hall is also a great way to meet Jenn at the front desk who hands the supplies out… and she is awesome so it is the best of both worlds.

2. Compost: While Hayward hooks homes up with free, green bins for kitchen compost use, I live in Berkeley and our city hall doesn’t love us as much. Ok, that is not entirely true Berkeley is great but you know what I mean – we don’t get free small bins. So, one cool tip I learned during my time here at Hayward is that you can easily collect bio-trash at home. I now put all of my food scraps, coffee filters, and used paper towels into old egg cartons or cereal boxes and store it in my freezer before taking them out to the green bin. Best part of this whole thing – No fruit flies or bad smells! Woot woot!

3. Co-Gen Life: I was fortunate to get a tour of Hayward’s waste treatment plant. The EPA requires all sewage water to be treated before going out into the bay (for good reason because that would be so gross otherwise). Well one thing that you may think is also gross but is actually super cool is what they do with that solid waste coming through the sewage system. It sounds a little icky but bear with me; they heat up the solid waste and use the biogas that comes from the heated up waste to power the waste treatment plant. They get so much energy from this process (known as cogeneration or as the cool kids call it, the Co-Gen) that the plant actually produces more energy than it consumes – what! Talk about efficient! Way to go Hayward Waste Treatment plant!