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Waste Reduction in Action!

Each quarter the Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division highlights a local business in the unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County that is doing an exemplary job of reducing waste. Businesses listed in this section have taken advantage of the County’s innovative environmental solutions and programs or created their own! We thank each business for being a waste reduction leader and for setting a great example for the rest of the County.

Click on a headline to learn more about awesome solid waste programs happening in Santa Barbara County.

  • April 2023 - Coastal Grindz Café

    • This April, Santa Barbara County’s Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division (RRWM) wants to shed light on Coastal Grindz Café for their inspiring eco-conscious attitude. The passionate team at Coastal Grindz Café in Mission Hills put on their own waste reduction focused Earth Day Event on April 22nd, 2023. Marisa Yott, owner and operator of the café, teamed up with local artist Nathalie Nunes to hold an incredible event with interactive games, engaging displays, upcycled art, and even some live music and singing. Their slogan for this event was reduce, reuse, and craft for a better world!
    • Nathalie felt inspired to go above and beyond to honor this year’s Earth Day and approached local business owner Marisa to team up to hold an event hosted at the Cafe. Natalie explained how she finds such joy in the local landscape, that this year she wanted to do something special to give back. Nathalie explains, “Earth is soul, it’s our partner,” and she wanted to inspire people to look at waste differently. Rather than simply throwing items away to be buried in the landfill, Nathalie strives to show folks that you can make functional and even beautiful things out of what most people consider waste!
    • All the activities and displays created for this event were made from upcycled materials, including plastic bags, reused bottles and cans, and miscellaneous materials from their garages! Nathalie used her expert crochet skills to create baskets and handbags out of old plastic bags, as well as a full-size model of a woman being creative with the colors of the bags to create her hair, eyes, and shoes. Her craftsmanship with crocheting full size plastic bags into durable bags, baskets, and art and is incredibly impressive.
    • Throughout the week leading up to the Earth Day event, they asked patrons to write an Earth Day message and deposit them in a box. At the end of the week, they adorned a large tree made from upcycled materials with these messages in a beautiful and uplifting display. There were activities for kids as well, including a bottle toss game with used bottles and a ball made from plastic bags, and a sorting activity where folks were challenged to sort materials into the proper trash, recycling, or organic waste container.
    • Among the upcycled displays and activities, Marisa and Nathalie helped get the word out on the County’s educational resources on waste reduction, and helped pass out copies of RRWM’s Less Is More Guide, residential waste signage, kitchen pails, and more!
    • Nathalie and Marisa hope folks left feeling motivated to get creative with everyday items and make art from waste. Hopefully folks learned something new as well, like the fact that in the Lompoc/Mission Hills region they can now compost their food scraps instead of sending them to the landfill by simply putting them in their green container at home!
    • We are so grateful to Nathalie, Marisa, and the entire Coastal Grindz Café team for helping share waste reduction resources during their event and for being such inspiring members of our community. Every day is Earth Day!
  • January 2023 - CA Coast Naturals and Oleavicin

    • CA Coast Naturals is a family owned and operated businesses hidden on the Gaviota Coast. The Makela family has been growing olives for over 40 years; however, the family’s history with local farming goes much further back. Craig Makela, the President and owner of CA Coast Naturals and Oleavicin, is the great grandson of the very first olive and grape grower in Santa Barbara. They know a thing or two about olives and what it takes to be a sustainable business here on the South Coast. Not a thing goes to waste on the Makelas’ farm.
    • Firstly, the Makelas own two companies, CA Coast Naturals and Oleavicin. CA Coast Naturals includes a line of various flavors of local olives and olive oils. Oleavicin is a medical company that uses olive leaves as a main ingredient in salves and lip balms that act as cold sore and shingles treatments.CA Coast Naturals’ olives and olive oil come straight from the Makelas’ farm. In Craig’s words, olives never learned how to be an edible fruit, so they need our help. Olives are stored in salt and water to pull the bitterness out. This process, as well as any other flavoring, all takes place on-site. Keeping the operation on-site helps reduce fuel usage from transportation.CA Coast Naturals also collects bottles and jars from past customers for reuse and repackaging in future olive and oil batches. Customers can even get a discount on their next purchase by returning their jars and bottles to their booth at the farmer’s market.
    • The Makelas also reduce waste by creating their other product, Oleavicin. These lip balms and salves are made with olive leaves. There is no part of the olive tree going to waste here! Olive leaves are ground and mixed with other ingredients to create these products. As with the olive oil, these products are made right on-site on the Gaviota Coast.The Makela farm employs various other sustainable methods. Two cows, ten chickens, and even two tortoises help eat any organic waste on the farm and help fertilize the plants as they go about their business. This also helps the native plants that are used as natural cover crop. Organics that the animals don’t get to are added to a compost pile.Items like cardboard and other packaging materials are reused or stored onsite until they can be reused or donated. Even the wood from olive trees is used for firewood, furniture, and decor!
    • Additionally, products are donated when they are near their expiration date and cannot be sold. The Makelas have a great record of donating to the Foodbank and Veggie Rescue. CA Coast Naturals joined the Santa Barbara County Regional SB 1383 Food Recovery Network in 2022.
    • Cindy Makela commented that these recycling and waste reduction initiatives have helped them save money on their trash bill by being able to reduce their trash service. This is great advice for anyone looking to “right-size” their waste service.
    • We are so thankful to have the Makela Family and the CA Coast Naturals and Oleavicin teams as a great example of sustainable waste management. You can find them online at the addresses below or at the Santa Barbara Farmer’s Market.