Greener BeeGreen LivingKathryn McKenzie, Living Green: Learn how to turn yourself into compost

Now that fall is officially underway — and hopefully, a seasonal return to cooler temperatures — environmental affairs are also in full swing. Here’s a look at what’s coming up around the Monterey Bay and beyond.

• You’re all familiar with creating compost in the garden. But what about composting yourself? The future of burial will be discussed by Seattle architect Katrina Spade, founder of the Urban Death Project, who is leading a growing effort in support of a green alternative to caskets and cremation: human composting.

Spade will visit CSU Monterey Bay on Oct. 2 to discuss the current funeral industry and why it matters that we do better. Today’s burials use up resources like wood and metal, and cremations emit 600 million pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually.

The public is invited to attend Spade’s presentation from 4 to 5 p.m. at the Alumni and Visitors Center on the corner of Gen. Jim Moore Boulevard and Inter-Garrison Road. Visitors will need to purchase a $1 parking permit from a machine at the entrance to the lot.

• Carmel Building and Design is helping to organize this year’s Building Carbon Zero California fall symposium in Palo Alto, an important statewide gathering for builders and others who seek to design homes in a more sustainable way.

Early-bird pricing is now available for those who want to attend the conference on Friday, Nov. 13, at the Lucie Stern Community Center. The event hosted by Passive House California will feature national and international speakers, as well as state and local experts. Breakout sessions follow one of two tracks: Carbon, Efficiency and Photovoltaic or Retrofits and Large Passive House.

An expo during the event features a variety of companies that provide today’s most advanced materials, technologies and equipment used to achieve high-performance buildings while significantly reducing their carbon footprint.

This year’s keynote speaker is Peter Busby, principal of Perkins + Will Architects, San Francisco, internationally recognized and published for his contributions to architecture and planning.

For a complete list of speakers, sponsors and a conference schedule and to order tickets, visit Early bird pricing ends Sept. 30.

• The recycling tours at Santa Cruz’s recycling center have been so popular that more had to be added, with the last one coming up at 10 a.m. Oct. 23.

The free tour of the Resource Recovery Facility at 605 Dimeo Lane allows visitors to see firsthand what happens to the 30 to 50 tons of material that Santa Cruz citizens place into their blue recycle bins each day. Every week, the recycling team bales as much as 49 tons of mixed paper, more than 21 tons of plastic and 71 tons of cardboard.

Visitors will also learn about the resale of recycled materials that generates an average $1.5 million in annual revenue, and how contamination is hurting recycling.

Children under 8 years of age are not permitted. All youth ages 8 to 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Groups will be limited to 20 people. Carpooling is encouraged as parking is limited.

To make a reservation or for more information, contact Waste Reduction Assistant Bret Jensen at 831-420-5593 or

Do you have questions or tips about sustainable living around the Central Coast? Send them to Kathryn McKenzie at

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