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Former Episcopalian minister and human rights activist Arthur Boone started the private North Oakland Recycling Center in 1983.
This was before helping separate and reuse waste was a municipal concern in most cities. Although Boone sold that business when the city of Oakland began to pick up recyclables on residents’ doorsteps, he has remained a stalwart of the Bay Area recycling community as a consultant and teacher.
Thanks in part to Boone’s passion, bordering on obsession, the Bay Area has long taken the lead in recycling and “green” living. Popular Science picked San Francisco and Oakland among the top four green cities in the U.S. in 2008. Berkeley was also in the top 10.
Still, for Boone, 73, there’s no point in slacking off now when there’s still so much to be done. Recycling used to be concerned largely with cans, bottles, paper and newspapers. Now electronic gadgets are an ever-increasing source of waste, water resources are under growing pressure and recycling is tied to larger issues, such as climate change.
Reporter Judy Silber spent some time with Boone in Berkeley recently, to see how he’s continuing to fight the good fight.