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Our mission is to develop waste prevention, reduction, reuse and recycling solutions for the residents, businesses, community-based organizations, and government agencies of Humboldt County. Our activities include public outreach and education, policy advocacy, technical consulting, and project coordination and support.


With expertise in community organizing, strategic planning, integrated waste management, and environmentally-beneficial business development, Zero Waste Humboldt was formed in 2011. Until recently a fog of complacency has enveloped waste management decisions in our county. The public’s complacency combined with our region’s insularity has caused us to fall behind in the advances in integrated waste management, zero waste planning, and the constant changes in the global marketplace that affect recycled commodities. This has resulted in missed opportunities for resource and energy conservation, and local recycling business and economic development in Humboldt County.

Zero Waste Humboldt brings to the public’s attention the conditions and capacity of our present waste management system and its potential for practical improvements. Instead of achieving critical economy-of-scale and flow control, recent waste management decisions have resulted in the Balkanization of Humboldt County recycling services. This has caused the loss of vital recycling infrastructure, outsourcing of locally-collected recyclable materials, and made start-up and growth of reuse and recycle-based businesses more difficult. Zero Waste Humboldt was organized to reverse this trend and is committed to a county-wide, coordinated zero waste vision in which local job creation and business development are desired outcomes of waste management public policy. The top priority in the integrated waste management hierarchy for planning and public policy is WASTE PREVENTION.

Because all of the public agencies and private companies currently providing solid waste collection and the collection and processing of recyclables are financially dependent upon tonnage of material, waste prevention services have been sorely lacking. Zero Waste Humboldt has formed to fill this void. Zero Waste Humboldt is committed to cooperation with local agencies, businesses, schools, and community organizations to develop and support solutions to our county’s waste management challenges and opportunities for recycling-based economic development.

On August 19, 2011 Zero Waste Humboldt presented its first Zero Waste Innovation Forum with the sponsorship of the City of Arcata, the North Coast Recycling Market Development Zone, and the Humboldt Waste Management Authority. In coming months citizens, public officials, business owners, students and the media will be able to find useful information here about zero waste activities in and outside of Humboldt County. You will be able to learn more about:

  • Zero waste principles and goals,
  • regional zero waste integrated waste management planning and plans,
  • local reuse and recycling based businesses,
  • waste prevention initiatives and opportunities,
  • local and out-of-the-area success stories, and
  • our positions on local government waste management policies.

We glean information relevant to local waste prevention, reuse, and recycling solutions and will periodically disseminate information via our website, radio interviews with national experts, public forums, email action alerts and email news bulletins about waste management industry news, trends, and activities. Our intent is to inform, advise and advocate. We invite you to join our volunteers in public education and research. To join or request to be on our mailing list for action alerts, email us at


Tracy Jordan FrenchTracy Jordan French

Tracy is a Humboldt County native and has been an avid recycler since 1972. She is the Administrator at United States Servas, Inc., and worked in administration and development at Access Humboldt, and was the special projects coordinator for the art department at Yakima Products. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from Humboldt State and a teaching credential from UC Santa Cruz. She lives with her family in McKinleyville, California and serves as the treasurer on the ZWH board of directors.

Margaret Gainer

Margaret Gainer

Maggie also serves on the boards of directors for Bayside Pride and the Headwaters Fund of Humboldt County, and is a member of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, HumboldtMade, Humboldt Folklife Society, and the Northern California Association of Nonprofits. She founded Gainer & Associates, a community development consulting firm specializing in integrating recycled feedstock into manufacturing, and an early innovator in waste prevention methods. She is past President of the California Resource Recovery Association, served on the National Recycling Coalition Board Executive Committee. 2003-2008 she directed Humboldt State University’s Office for Economic & Community Development, and served on the California Governor’s Economic Strategy Panel 2005-2008.

Nancy StevensNancy Stevens

Nancy brings years of experience in business administration, nonprofit organization management, and her enthusiasm for waste reduction to the ZWH board. She produces large outdoor events, including the Humboldt Folklife Society’s annual Folklife Festival in Blue Lake, and consults with organizations for event planning and waste reduction. She also serves on the Same Old People board of directors for the North Country Fair, where she coordinates the Zero Waste crew.

Vice_President_Lopes_0Joyce Lopes

Joyce Lopes is Humboldt State University’s Vice President of Administrative Affairs.  As Chief Financial Officer for HSU, she reports directly to the President on management and oversight of business and financial affairs and oversees a staff of 275.  She is a trained consultant in interest-based negotiations.  She chairs HSU’s Climate Action Committee charged with developing a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to guide the University in implementing measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Joyce brings to the ZWH board an inclusive leadership style and enthusiasm for community-campus collaboration to achieve Zero Waste.

Christine Miller

Christine Miller is the Development and Grant Coordinator for Hospice of Humboldt in Eureka.  She provided leadership for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the North Coast for ten years – first serving as the organization’s Events Coordinator, and for the past five years, as Executive Director.  In addition to this hands-on experience in nonprofit management best practices, she brings to the ZWH board a special interest in reducing waste at large events.  She coordinated source reduction and recycling at the Arcata Bay Oyster Fest in 2004 and 2005, and for the HSU North Coast Education Summit and the Redwood Technology Consortium Tech Expo for three years.

Alec HowardAlec Howard

Alec Howard is currently the manager of Arcata’s Community Cupboard, a reusable dishware rental service. He also works on the Solid Waste and Recycling Programs for the City of Arcata’s Environmental Services Department. Alec is the founder of the Arcata Compost Revolution, a bicycle powered compost collection service. In the past, Alec interned with the City of Sunnyvale’s Environmental Services and helped enforce the styrofoam ban.

Emma Held

Emma Held is Zero Waste Humboldt’s Project Manager. She was one of the ZWH lead crew members at the 2015 and 2016 North Country Fair, and several events in recent years. Emma was the 2015 Zero Waste Director for Humboldt State University’s Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program (WRRAP). She will receive her B.S. degree in soils science in May 2017. Emma currently leads ZWH’s public education to support the implementation of California’s new Plastic Bag Law, a pilot project with Zero Waste high school leaders, volunteer coordination and training, and the 2017 ZWH Movie Night Series.


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