Green Tripping: A Day at the Dump

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Editor’s Note: We welcome  GREEN TRIPPING — a new column exclusively written for My Daily Find by Green Catalyst. GREEN TRIPPING is about hitting the road, carpool-style, to investigate “green” businesses, activities and destinations in the San Fernando Valley.  Green Catalyst is a group of business professionals, artists, students, and parents promoting an environmentally friendly agenda in fun and compelling ways. They have helped schools and businesses divert trash from landfills to recycling centers and compost bins. We hope you’ll follow them on these pages and beyond.  Check them out at


When I was told the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation was hosting an open house day at the dump, I can’t say I was too excited to attend. Despite hearing that it was a family day out, I couldn’t get past the thought that I might be climbing through piles of garbage. As it turned out, it was not only garbage-free, but interesting.

There is plenty to entertain both children and adults at the Bureau of Sanitation tour, including a free barbecue and free trees.

The Bureau of Sanitation has numerous locations throughout the valley where they clean, fix and park their trucks. These yards are solely for the trucks and completely separate from the garbage dumps, or landfills, where waste is disposed of. The open houses, hosted by the city, offer everyone an opportunity to learn about how these trucks work and to see one step in the waste removal process. While the opportunity to climb onto the trucks and push buttons was clearly a draw for kids, there were plenty of other interesting things for adults too.

Recycling isn't always what you think it is.

Because the city also handles green waste and recycling, there was plenty of information about these services too. If you are like me and always wondering “Can I recycle this?”, it was helpful to find out what exactly can and cannot go in your blue bin. Free trees were also on offer if you could fit them in your car. And a free barbeque was provided if you wanted to hang around after the tour.

For those with greener interests, the Bureau offers free composting workshops at their Griffith Park composting facility where you can learn about backyard composting, worm composting and other gardening techniques. The city also sells discounted composting bins at this location nestled in the heart of Griffith Park.

A trip to the Sanitation department has surprises in store for you and your family.

Where does all that stuff go? How does recycling work. Go Green Tripping and out.

The Bureau has also established a pilot recycling program in an effort to increase residential recycling. The 1-2 year program is being run in partnership with a company called RecycleBank in selected areas across the city, including the West Valley. Those who choose to participate in the program can earn reward points for recycling. Points can be redeemed for groceries, gift cards, restaurants and many other items. To find out if you are eligible to sign up for this program, visit

While a visit to the dump will never be on my top ten list of things to do around the Valley, I have to concede it was a worthwhile outing.

Sanitation workers explain their jobs.

Whether you are green-minded or not, seeing what happens to your garbage is a useful reminder that stuff doesn’t just disappear. There are hundreds of people each day who play a fundamental part in keeping our lives trash-free and our city looking beautiful. And although that may not be the most entertaining aspect of our city, it’s definitely one of the most valuable.

For more information on Department of Sanitation Open House days visit There is only one Open House left  on June 26. For information on composting workshops, visit

Sara Singer Schiff is a freelance journalist who has written for numerous newspapers, magazines and websites in the US and abroad. She started her career in London, England where she was an editor for the Diet and Fitness section of the website iVillage. She simultaneously wrote for a British film industry magazine. After moving to Los Angeles, she has written for the Senior Living section of the LA Times and created content on a range of websites, including Green Catalyst’s. She is married with three daughters and lives in Studio City.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.