Our zero waste pledge

We are big nature lovers here at home. We’ve banned the use of plastic bags while grocery shopping since 2001, we avoid wasting energy and water, and Inès often participates in community work by picking up trash on San Francisco beaches. We’re also big on composting and recycling, but when SF environment asked me to spread the word about what goes in the green bin and what doesn’t, I realized I didn’t know everything I needed to know about composting: oily pizza boxes, used popsicles’ wooden sticks, or used paper napkins and paper towels, for example, all go in the green bin for composting. Did you know that?

Real Foodies Compost - French By Design

The city of San Francisco has a goal of zero waste by 2020. This is music to my ears because, as a mother, I feel very connected with the environmental issues, what we’re doing to the planet and we pass along to the next generations. Reducing our eco-footprint as a family is really important to us and we want our girls to respect nature and do their part as well. Our philosophy is rather simple : we care about what we eat, try to go organic as much as possible, and when you look at the issue as a big picture, it’s pretty simple: if you want to eat good food, then composting and recycling is an essential element of the equation – less waste and landfills, more recycling and more composting matters… which are later used to enrich the soils that grow the very same food we’re putting in our plates.

Real Foodies Compost - French By Design

Nature does such an amazing job creating varieties of vegetables and fruits for us to eat, let’s give her some help by composting, shall we?

Real Foodies Compost - French By Design Real Foodies Compost - French By Design Real Foodies Compost - French By Design

So, this is what I learned while partnering with SF environment. Here is what goes in the green bin and what doesn’t :

What goes in the green bin for composting:

  • All food scraps and spoiled leftovers
  • Meat bones and seafood shells
  • Oily pizza boxes and paper takeout containers
  • Small parts of plants
  • Waxy paper
  • Coffee grounds and paper filter
  • Cotton balls/cotton swabs with paper stems
  • Small pieces of wood including chopsticks, coffee stirrers, toothpicks, clean (untreated) wood
  • Check plastic containers and plastic bags to see if they are labeled compostable (it matters)
  • Paper napkins and paper towels.

What does NOT go in the green bin:

  • Aluminum foil or trays (foil goes into recycling even if dirty)
  • Liquid dairy products (down the drain)
  • Clean cardboard or paper (recycle)
  • Cooking oil (must be taken to a grocery store or other take back location)
  • Glass (recycle)
  • Plastic bags (not labeled compostable)
  • Plastic labeled “biodegradable” (can not be composted)
  • Juice or soy milk type boxes with foil liner (usually square; they go in the landfill bin)
  • Metal cans and lids (recycle)
  • Diapers and feminine products (landfill)
  • Kitty litter and animal waste (bagged go into landfill bin)
  • Small construction debris (must be properly disposed of by a contractor).

We also banned plastic ‘picnic’ plates at home and I got instead some compostable plates that are made of…  fallen tree leaves. Isn’t it cool? You can find these plates here.

Real Foodies Compost - French By Design

If you are, like us at home, a nature lover and a real foodie, then you should compost. It’s good for nature, it’s good for you and the food you put on your table, and it’s the #SFThingToDo!

For more tips and tricks on easy composting, visit the Real Foodies Compost website and follow along via facebooktwitter, and instagram.

Do you compost at home? Do you have any tips on easy composting you’d like to share?


• This post is in partnership with SF Environment’s Real Foodies Compost. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make FrenchByDesign possible.

Photography French By Design ©


5 thoughts on “Our zero waste pledge

  1. Love this so much! I try to compost but I had no idea that used pizza boxes or popsicle sticks were compostable! Thank you for the extensive list – fabulous photos by the way. Xoxo, Jess <3

    1. Ha, @Jessica, don’t worry, I didn’t know either until very recently. Thank you for your kind words and thanks for helping Mother Nature, one green bin at a time. Xo, Si-

  2. Hurray for SF! Did you know the biggest waste stream by volume is food waste? And in a landfill it doesn’t compost because there isn’t enough oxygen for the bacteria that break it down. So it becomes mummified. SF is composting and then using the compost to fertilize land. Big win all around.
    I’m so glad you posted this list!

    1. I did not know that! That’s terrible!
      Yes, very very proud to live in this city, @Taste of France. I hope this list helps nature lovers all around the globe!

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