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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.

  • October 2023 - Rosewood Miramar Resort and Caruso's Restaurant

    • Santa Barbara County is home to the Rosewood Miramar Beach resort (Miramar), a beautiful destination of the Caruso report collection. The Miramar is located just south of the Santa Barbara city limits on the coast of Montecito. When you enter the property, you can see beautiful cottages and inviting landscape. Miramar offers luxurious lounging areas on the coast and impressive scenic views of the Santa Ynez mountains. However, on the inside you’ll find a bustling staff working hard to support not only resort operations, but inspiring sustainability initiatives.The Miramar’s sustainability efforts are vast and have been ongoing since they opened in 2019. Most impressively, the resort was one of the very first locations to be awarded a Michelin Green Star. Miramar employee Hannah Rock explained that the Miramar earned a Michelin Green Star in 2021 and 2022, which was a brand-new initiative created by the Michelin Board in 2021. They were awarded this star because their responsible handling of waste as well as their focus on procuring sustainable ingredients by working with local farmers. Working with local farmers not only reduces food miles, but also helps food have the longest shelf life possible. A longer shelf life lessens the risk of the food going bad before it was planned to be used. This is an awesome tip for other businesses looking to reduce food waste.
    • The Miramar also takes proactive steps to best manage and reduce their waste. This includes subscribing to waste services above their required levels, weighing all of the waste they produce to track metrics, and donating excess edible food instead of throwing it away.
    • The Miramar is serviced by the ReSource Center, which is a state-of-the-art facility that has the ability to sort through the community’s trash and can separate organic waste to be composted instead of landfilled. Because of this, they are not required to be on the source separated organic waste program signified by yellow carts, since the ReSource Center is able to sort their organic waste out for them. However, they have opted for separate organics service anyway. This is beneficial because source separated organic waste loads go straight to be composted. This ultimately uses less energy because the waste doesn’t need to be sorted out of the trash. Additionally, the “cleaner” food scraps help create better quality compost to be used locally throughout the region. As an added bonus, and because of these benefits, source separated organics services are pound-for-pound cheaper than trash service. The more organic waste the Miramar successfully diverts to this program, the less trash service they need and the larger savings they’ll see on their waste bill. This is a great win-win for local businesses and the environment.
    • By weighing their waste, the resort is able to track how much waste they generate and record their own metrics. This is actually a practice across all Caruso resorts. This helps the group pinpoint areas to improve and celebrate their diversion efforts. Policies like this help make sustainability a part of company culture and keeps sustainability goals on track. Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division staff always recommend doing an individual audit to help businesses see where they are producing the most waste to create an effective waste reduction plan.Lastly and most recently, the Miramar used County tools to develop a relationship with the Friendship Center of Santa Barbara to donate their edible food instead of throwing it away. This helps reduce the amount of edible food going to waste, and benefits a local non-profit. This proves once again that the Miramar is a community-oriented sustainability leader.
    • All of these efforts really add up. Hannah stated that these efforts not only benefit the company and attract consumers, but also meaningfully connect the resort to the local community by giving back. They know that they are taking care of their local landscapes and ocean environment, and putting their best eco-conscious foot forward.The Miramar also partners with other organizations including, Surfrider and FishChoice. They initial work with these smaller local groups are what lead to larger initiatives like pursuing the Michelin Green Star. These steps have also been good for business. The Miramar is able to attract clients who have the same values. Some clients specifically choose the Miramar for their events because of their efforts.
    • The Miramar Resort has taken advantage of County programs to support their sustainability goals. We are very excited to showcase their work and have them as a local waste reduction leader. For more information on their efforts please contact Hannah Rock at (650) 399-6387.
  • July 2023 - Magnolia and Primrose Care Home

    • We are excited to present Magnolia and Primrose Care Home for our Summer 2023 Business Spotlight. Magnolia and Primrose Care Home is a memory care facility located near downtown Orcutt. We sat down with Business Manager Susie Halsell, Administrator Dorothy Berger, and Owner/Founder Margie Halsell to learn about their business and the sustainable practices they incorporate into their everyday operations.
    • Back in 2005, founder Margie Halsell began to see a need in her community as she watched more and more elderly community members moving to institutional facilities to get the care they needed. After raising her 9 children in Santa Maria, Margie realized that she had the space to run a small nursing home right here in their neighborhood, and she started work converting their home into a professional memory care facility. They opened their doors in 2008 with only 6 full-time residents and have since expanded to house 28 full-time residents, all the while making it a priority to foster a welcoming environment feels like home, not a hospital. Magnolia and Primrose Care Home follow philosophies such as the Eden Alternative and the Best Friends Approach to memory care which emphasize making folks with Alzheimer’s and other dementias feel safe, secure, and valued in an environment where they feel they are connected and have meaning.
    • Magnolia and Primrose Care Home features a commercial kitchen with a full-time chef that prepares healthy dishes from scratch for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also prepare multiple daily snacks and a dessert each night, amounting to 168 homemade meals and snacks every day! They prioritize healthy whole foods and offer little to no processed foods in their dishes. The results speak for themselves, as they’re proud to say each of their patients with diabetes have been able to stop taking diabetes medications after being on such a healthy diet. Susie and Dorothy share that they gather information on residents preferred foods before they arrive so they can tailor meals accordingly and also surprise residents with their favorite foods on occasion, as while it’s important to keep their residents healthy “food is also a big part of keeping these folks happy."
    • Magnolia and Primrose Care Home is not only a leader in progressive memory care, but their team also conducts an eco-friendly operation that engages staff and residents. One of the more impactful sustainable practices they participate in is backyard composting. Magnolia and Primrose Care Home features beautiful grounds for residents to walk and enjoy the outdoors, however, this results in producing a large amount of yard waste. They also have their fair share of food waste from producing 168 homemade meals each day in their commercial kitchen. Being a Certified International Permaculture Designer, Susie Halsell led the effort to start composting this organic waste in 2019, and employees have been doing so ever since. This facility composts nearly all the organic waste it produces, which pays off by creating garden fertilizer for free and saving at least $30 dollars on month on their waste bill after being exempted from needing organic waste service. Susie was inspired to get composting started on-site not only as a way to save money, but also to “do their part on such a widescale problem”, since organic waste buried in the landfill creates methane, a greenhouse gas and major contributor to climate change.
    • The focus on sustainability doesn’t stop at composting! The folks at Magnolia and Primrose Care Home have incorporated a long list of sustainable practices including planting native landscaping to support pollinators and save water. They grow their own cooking herbs on-site and reduce food waste in various ways such as using veggie scraps to create stock. They opt for more environmentally friendly cleaning products, which also helps reduce the presence of chemical irritants for their staff and residents. For weeds, they create a natural weed killer composed of vinegar, Epson salt, and detergent. They make their own hand soap and disinfectant with tea tree oil that holds up to licensing cleaning standards. They use bamboo toothbrushes and reusable metal med cups. They even collect the recyclable cans and bottles staff bring to work and donate the resulting funds to directly support Susie’s nonprofit called Bangladeshi Street Kids Aid ( Margie and Dorothy state that the residents at Mongolia and Primrose Care Home are motivated to create less waste as they came from a generation that always valued the principles of reduce and reuse, which makes implementing eco-friendly practices easy.
    • This family business is an inspiring example putting your values to work in your community. Keep up the incredible work!
  • 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.