Zero Waste Humboldt is the only organization on California’s northwest corner that specializes solely on waste reduction solutions. Inspired by the Redwood Coast’s natural beauty and cultures, we educate the public, provide technical assistance and training, and advocate for sustainable materials management and Zero Waste policies. Our sense of urgency to conserve natural resources and fight climate change drives Zero Waste Humboldt to target all single use and wasteful products and packaging with proactive waste prevention strategies. Our public education campaigns create behavior change — not “green marketing happy talk.”


ZWH’s mission, services and community projects stem from our vision of a desired future with 0 waste, sustainable materials management, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Waste prevention will be accepted as the most effective method to protect our scenic rivers, Humboldt Bay, Pacific coastline, ranchlands, forests and Redwood Coast communities from plastic pollution, litter and roadside dumping.

Our residents, businesses, government agencies, community groups and schools will adopt Zero Waste values and habits. Systems will be implemented and infrastructure installed to direct discarded materials to second uses. Waste generation will decrease so much that the large trucks that haul Humboldt County’s garbage to distant landfills will no longer be needed. Humboldt County’s sustainable materials management practices will result in measurable and significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. We will achieve the Circular Economy in Humboldt with many of our special niche manufacturers using recycled feedstock materials to make their products.


ZWH adopted the Zero Waste International Alliance 10 Zero Waste Business Principles as the foundation for its work in 2012. Our top priority is to implement proactive waste prevention strategies to reduce waste generated in the first place, and our work with materials reuse, recycling and composting methods follows. Recycling-based economic development in Humboldt is essential to our mission; helping local businesses to integrate recyclable materials into their production processes creates the Circular Economy.

Central to our work are 3 core services: (1)public education for all segments of the local population, (2)advocacy and policy development with local and state government, and (3)technical assistance consulting and training for businesses, schools and government agencies to reduce the proliferation of single-use products and packaging – especially plastics.  Our services benefit the community in the following ways:

  • Natural resource conservation and achieving the highest & best use for discarded materials.

  • Business and local economic development.

  • Achieving compliance with new state and federal laws

  • Grassroots organizing, project management and leadership development

  • Preparing local youth with Zero Waste training to enter the workforce

  • Examples and models for how to implement Zero Waste practices


ZWH introduced the Zero Waste movement to Humboldt County in 2011, and incorporated as a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization in 2014, to provide contemporary sustainable materials management and Zero Waste practices.

ZWH is governed by a board of directors who reside in different Humboldt communities and bring experience in the Zero Waste method, public education aimed at behavioral change, developing collaborative partnerships, advocacy, different business sectors, and nonprofit management. An Advisory Board provide both pro bono expertise and project feedback; and information on community resources and partners.

ZWH accomplishes much of its work with a small staff, a growing network of partner organizations, more than 50 regular trained volunteers, and as a work site for Humboldt State University student internships, work-study employees, community service-learning projects, senior capstone projects, and graduate student research.

ZWH honors Humboldt businesses and community members who are exemplary models of successful commitment to Zero Waste in an annual Zero Heroes Night celebration.

To learn about Zero Waste Humboldt’s services, please read SERVICES.


Kelly Fortner
Kelly FortnerPresident

Kelly Fortner, President, with degrees from HSU in Geology and Religious Studies, Kelly has a strong understanding of local geology and associated hazards as well as how religion plays a role in environmental concerns. She is the Student Support Coordinator in HSU’s Center for Community-based Learning, where she supports students’ academic internships, service-learning, and career preparedness. Kelly lives in McKinleyville, and is a graduate student in HSU’s Environment & Community Graduate Program. She researched U.S. cities’ plastic bag ordinances, the potential for a regional refillable beverage bottle system; and hosted the 2020 ZWH Movie Night Series.

Maggie Gainer
Maggie GainerBoard Member

Maggie Gainer has worked in Zero Waste and community based economic development at the national, state, and local level for more than 40 years. She founded Gainer & Associates, a community development and waste reduction consulting firm in 1985 and directed HSU’s Office for Economic & Community Development. A Bayside resident, she is committed to grassroots organizing and leadership development in the Zero Waste field.

Sophie Jones
Sophie JonesSecretary

Sophie Jones, Secretary, originally hails from Boise, Idaho but now calls Humboldt home.  She is a local real estate agent and serves on several association boards that assist with fundraising and education. She previously volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Keep Eureka Beautiful, among other local nonprofits.  Sophie is passionate about our local community, the outdoors, and loves being outside in her free time. She joined ZWH to decrease her environmental impact and encourage others to do the same.

Kate Lancaster
Kate LancasterBoard Member

Kate Lancaster, Ph.D., CPA, CPD, ISSP-SA. Kate recently retired as an associate professor from Humboldt State University, School of Business where she taught sustainable business and accounting at the undergraduate and graduate level.  She worked with students to help numerous businesses explore and measure their sustainability (environmental, social, and economic) footprint. Kate has served as a North Coast Cooperative board member and was actively involved in numerous HSU-related sustainability endeavors. She was a presenter in the 2021 ZW Business Webinar Series and developed the selection criteria for our annual Zero Heroes honorees. An Arcata resident, Kate and her husband incorporate permaculture principles as stewards of their urban farm.

Maya Martin
Maya MartinTreasurer

Maya Martin, Treasurer, earned her Business Administration degree from HSU and has worked at Coast Central Credit Union for 6 years. She currently supervises a team of 8 staff. She has a strong background in financial services, budgeting, and general ledger balancing. She serves on the ZWH board because of her strong desire to give back to her community.

Krista Miller
Krista MillerVice-President

Krista Miller, Vice-President, is a life-long resident of Humboldt County. She has been a teacher in local schools, and active in the League of Women Voters, the Cooper Gulch Common Grounds, and the City of Eureka working group. She joined ZWH to further its mission and overcome the “consumptive disease” that has a grip on our daily lives. Krista has a personal passion for salvage and reuse of building and construction materials, urban farming and canning.

Ben Winker
Ben WinkerBoard Member

Ben Winker brings a variety of practical nonprofit management experience to the ZWH board. He is the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program Manager for Area 1 Agency on Aging and serves on the McKinleyville Recreation Committee. Ben is an enthusiastic recycler who worked for several years at Arcata Community Recycling Center. He enjoys gardening at his home in McKinleyville, and river rafting and whitewater kayaking.


Kyra Skylark
Kyra SkylarkZWH's Public Education Coordinator & Administrative Organizer

Kyra Skylark, ZWH’s Public Education Coordinator and Administrative Organizer, works with the ZWH Board to update its administrative systems and fundraising. She is restructuring the ZWH website to include a webpage to help Humboldt school districts, businesses and local government understand the new requirements of SB1383, manages social media, and is initiating the process for ZWH to produce a monthly podcast and television program.

Amy Whitlatch
Amy Whitlatch

Amy Whitlatch is the owner of Whitlatch Bookkeeping Service. Amy specializes in on-line QuickBooks bookkeeping for small businesses and nonprofits. ZWH board of directors contracts with Amy for its financial recordkeeping, nonprofit reporting, and full payroll services.

Yvette Lindler
Yvette LindlerResearch Associate

Humboldt State University Environmental Science & Management graduate program

Conducting research on food waste collection routing

Sam Shea
Sam SheaHSU Intern Fall 2021

Sam Shea is ZWH’s HSU Environmental Science and Management intern for Fall 2021. She is working on public outreach and education via: social media, graphics design, events planning, and producing the Fall Quarter 2021 eNewsletter.

Lisa Enge
Lisa EngeZW's Arcata Business Packaging Reuse Coordinator

Lisa Enge is ZWH’s Arcata Business Packaging Reuse Coordinator. Lisa began spearheading this pilot project to help Arcata’s downtown businesses just before the coronavirus. It will resume when business operations are back to normal. The project will reduce packaging waste with an on-line packaging exchange information service.


Ruby Guillette
Ruby GuilletteRadio/Public Education Advisor
Jenifer Sherman-Ruppe
Jenifer Sherman-RuppeArtist/Recycling Manufacturer
Julie Neander
Julie NeanderTechnical Advisor
Hayley Connors-Keith
Hayley Connors-KeithEnvironmental Educator
Brett Watson
Brett WatsonCommunity Advisor
Jud Ellinwood
Jud EllinwoodFounding Board Member, Advocacy Advisor
Juliette Bohn
Juliette BohnTechnical Advisor, Sustainable Systems
Iysh Seber
Iysh SeberEvents Production Volunteer
Alex Stillman
Alex StillmanCommunity Advisor
Michael Welch
Michael WelchFounding Member, Community Advisor
Portia Sinnott
Portia SinnottZW Expert/Trainer for Micro Services Plus / Zero Waste USA
Stacy and Lloyd Barker
Stacy and Lloyd BarkerComposting Specialists for The Local Worm Guy
Jayce Walker
Jayce WalkerEcoGroovy Deals secondhand store owner, reuse and textiles recycling expert/entrepreneur


[email protected]

Mail Address: PO Box 293 Arcata, CA 95518

Physical Address (by appointment only): 839 9th St Arcata, CA 95521