Rethinking Single-stream Recycling

Dec 7, 2015
North Bay Corporation

  Expanded recycling programs, such as here in Sonoma County, have succeeded in cutting the waste stream going into the dump. But the economics behind them are not working out as expected. And that is leading to some reconsideration.

Long-time recycling advocate Mike Anderson, the current chair of the Sonoma County Solid Waste Management Task Force, contends that one factor in North Bay Corporation’s higher-than-permitted volume of “residuals” at their Standish Avenue sorting facility is the age of the equipment in use there.

Promoting the Social Marketing of Wine

Dec 3, 2015

  The 4th Annual North Coast Wine Industry Expo drew a record crowd to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds yesterday. Beyond the 600+ vendors filling the two largest buildings, the event featured a series of panels, beginning with an assessment of the State of the North Coast Wine Industry.



  At most workplaces, breakroom food options are processed, carb-heavy, stale and limited. Byte is a North Bay start-up that is out to change all of that.

  Because of the healthful selection of food they offer, Byte founder and CEO Megan Mokri says their service meshes well with workplace wellness programs.

  The key factors in creating a sustainable wine business are the same all over the world, concludes a new book, and can also apply to other kinds of businesses.

Santa Rosa Named a “Fair Trade Town"

Oct 13, 2015

  Santa Rosa has become the 10th official “Fair Trade Town" in California, and will celebrate that designation on Saturday.

  You can read or download the Madr Boomie Sustainability Impact Report here.

The Official Santa Rosa Fair Trade Town Celebration will be held in Courthouse Square on Saturday afternoon. See event details below.

Goji Berries Take Root in Sonoma County

Oct 12, 2015
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  A century and a half after they were first introduced to California, Chinese Gogi berries are getting a fresh start, with their anti-oxidant benefits front and center. They’re now being grown at a single location in Sonoma County.

In their native China, Goji berries are grown on outdoor farms, but Jay Jensen isn't sure that would ever be practical in California.

Supervisors Weigh Licensing Tobacco Sales

Sep 22, 2015

  County supervisors spent over 3 hours Tuesday reviewing a proposed plan to make it harder for under aged youth to buy cigarettes and other smoking materials. But while some details were clarified, no final action was taken.

Read the text of the county's draft ordinance here.

Pinkwashing in Alcohol Beverage Advertising

Sep 12, 2015
Alcohol Justice

  Alcoholic beverages are known to contribute to breast cancer. Yet some of those same products are associating themselves with fundraising campaigns to promote awareness and treatment of breast cancer. A new study examines that inherent contradiction.

Sarah Mart’s study is published in the peer-reviewed journal, Addiction. You can read an online  summary here.

Seeking a Sustainable Niche in the Operating Room

Jul 15, 2015

  Hospitals are notorious sources of voluminous waste. Rob Chase wants to change that, and has launched a new business aimed at moving the process forward.

   New Gen Surgical founder and CEO Rob Chase believes the time is ripe for bringing a focus on sustainability into hospital operating rooms, as industry leaders are increasingly recognizing the linkage between their patients and the world they live in.

The Next Generation of Food

Jun 30, 2015


  A website offering positive reinforcement for close-to-home food choices is out to bolster the economic viability of local agriculture.

When Evan Wiig, Director of the Farmers Guild in the North Bay, talks about their new Follow the Rooster campaign, an example he likes to cite is the little Estero Café in Valley Ford.

 Although the Farmers Guild has labeled their new efforts the Next Generation of Food, it’s not really about demographics at all, observes Terry Garrett, co-manager of Go Local.

Strong First Year for Sonoma Clean Power

Jun 29, 2015
Sonoma Clean Power

Sonoma Clean Power has exceeded even the agency’s expectations in its first year; now they’re out to build on that success.

Part of Sonoma Clean Power’s mission is support for and the creation of new local sources of renewable power. CEO Geof Syphers says they have made strides in that area, too.

  Although they are competitors in one area, Sonoma Clean Power and PG&E work closely together in many others, observes SCP Board Chairman Mark Landman,

Green Energy Advocacy Groups Consolidate

Jun 16, 2015

  The former Climate Protection Campaign is now the Center for Climate Protection, but that’s not all that’s changed for them. The busy non-profit has also moved into new, more visible offices in downtown Santa Rosa, and is expanding a bit as well.

The combined organizations are holding at open house at their new quarters between 4th and 5th streets next Thursday afternoon. See details here.

Green Roof Tops New Amy's Drive-Thru

Jun 13, 2015
Kerrrie Lee Cole, Symbios

  A new fast food outlet in Rohnert Park is drawing attention for their vegetarian menu, but the organic aspects of the Amy’s Drive-Thru building itself are also unusual.

The iconic tank is the most visible aspect of water management at Amy's Drive Thru, but company Sustainability Manager Tim Griffin says it's part of a carefully developed larger plan.

New Tools for Financing Sustainability

Apr 30, 2015

  The 10th annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference this week examined ways to finance endeavors that align with indivuals' personal values. The options are expanding.

  In discussing “Capital for a Sustainable Future” the theme for this year’s Sustainable Enterprise Conference, economic analyst Marco Vangelisti outlined four emerging trends that will shape the American economy in the near future.

West Marin Papers Merging

Apr 26, 2015

  For more than seven years, two rival weekly newspapers have struggled to survive serve western Marin County. Now their long-running competition is coming to a close.

Electric Cars Find Favor in Sonoma County

Feb 20, 2015
Center for Climate Protection

 It isn’t easy for individuals to curtail their greenhouse gas emissions, but one thing they can do is drive less—or drive cars that pollute less. And recent sales figures show we are doing just that.

Switching to electric cars is a modest lifestyle change that can make a significant impact on overall greenhouse gas emissions, says Brant Arthur of the Center for Climate Protection.


A Net Neutrality Victory for Consumers

Feb 5, 2015

  In an industry dominated by a very few big corporations, the FCC’s new move to support net neutrality may restore some balance, and reflects widespread public demand that their interests be protected.

'Face Technology' Moves Online

Feb 2, 2015

  Even more than your handwriting, the geometry of your facial features can reveal aspects of your personality. A Santa Rosa start-up is digitizing that analysis, for fun and profit.

  Another business that could make good use of this data, suggests Face Affinity developer and co-founder Wayne Rowlands, is real estate.

But for now, the company is mainly promoting its FaceReflect smartphone app, as seen in the video below.

Trevi Systems: Out to Cut the Cost of Desalination

Jan 7, 2015

  The biggest obstacle to turning salt water into fresh water is the considerable energy that’s required. A new Petaluma- based company believes it has found a way to cut those costs by more than 80%, and is now out to prove it.

    Beyond the promise the new Trevi Systems technology holds for desalinating seawater, CEO John Webley says there may be even greater potential in cleaning up municipal wastewater.

Natural Gift Flows Through Water Dowser

Dec 30, 2014
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  As California’s severe drought continues, farmers, ranchers and vineyard owners are desperately searching for new or additional water sources. So Santa Rosa’s Rob Thompson is keeping busy. 

Rob Thompson’s water dowsing success rate is remarkable, even to him. He attributes it to a combination of a natural gift, and lots of concentrated practice.

Venture Capital Meets Conservation in New Coalition

Dec 18, 2014
Photo of Lake Berryessa courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Dept. of the Interior.

  A dozen heads of investment firms think the U.S. should be "investing" in more protections for public land. They've formed a new Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition, and are making the points that today's workforce wants an active, healthy lifestyle that the outdoors can provide – and employers want to keep them happy.

‘Upcycling’ surplus tomatoes

Nov 26, 2014
Kate Webber Photography (

  Better than just recycling, “upcycling” uses waste materials to create new products with increased value. Laci Sandoval is doing exactly that with surplus tomatoes.

Laci Sandoval says the success of her pilot partnership with County Line Harvest is not a business she intends to pursue for herself, but a demonstration model for other, smaller farmers in the area.


Betting on Zinc in the Race for a Better Battery

Nov 12, 2014
Bruce Robinson, KRCB

  A vital piece of our renewable energy future depends on better batteries.  A Marin-based company, working with the US Navy, is developing a new type of battery that uses an old material—zinc—in a new way.

There is a sense of urgency in the En-Zinc product development efforts, as Burz is well aware that many others, all over the globe, as seeking solutions to the better battery need.

Getting started with Micro-loans

Nov 10, 2014

  Mico-loans are now being facilitated for start-ups and small businesses by the Sonoma County Economic Development Board. But even though the amounts are modest—usually between $5000 and $25,000—the review process is rigorous.

Micro-lending in Sonoma County

Nov 7, 2014

  Most California businesses are small, with a dozen employees or less. So where can they find the funds to get started?  One new resource is being offered through the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.

On the next North Bay Report, we’ll hear from the owners of two new Santa Rosa businesses that have taken advantage of this new program.  

Examining 'Techno-creep'

Oct 30, 2014

  New digital technologies are already listening in on your daily life and intruding into your wallet. What’s coming next may be even creepier.

   Some of what Thomas Keenan writes about in Technocreep may seem like science fiction. Yet his carefully annotated book abounds with concrete examples, such as the way one major retailer is already processing the customer purchase data it routinely collects to target those customers with special offers.

Color-coded Cues to Food Safety

Oct 27, 2014

  A new, more visible system of testing and displaying food safety results for restaurants, food trucks and other vendors is due to roll out across Sonoma County next year. Already, the County Health Department has been holding some informational; workshops to let people know about it. And now there’s a radio interview as well.

Creating Climate Wealth

Oct 20, 2014

  Forget fossil fuels and extraction technologies. Now there’s money to be made in developing and expanding renewable energy sources.

    Jigar Shah will be a keynote speaker at the “Business of Local Energy" Symposium in Petaluma on Thursday. See a full event agenda here.

Documenting the Grape Harvest

Oct 12, 2014


  Growing grapes is a form of farming. Making wine is a quite different process. The bridge between the two is the harvest, which has a drama all its own.


John Beck's previous short documentary was Worst in Show, about the Ugliest Dog Contest in Petaluma.  Harvest will be shown on KRCB television twice in October: at 9 pm on Monday the 13th, repeating at 11 pm on Sunday the 19th. You can view a trailer for the film below.

Innovation Week Showcases Entreprenural Creativity

Sep 17, 2014

  It’s Innovation Week in the North Bay, when businesses and other groups show off their best new ideas. The big finish is a competition on Friday, in which some promising inventors and entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to win both public support, and backing from angel investor groups.

Find details about the Innovation Competition, including the full list of entrants, here.