Our mission is to go out of business.
We hope that “greening services” become unnecessary as society embraces waste-free events and daily living. In the future, we hope to see everyone bringing their own cups and reusable water bottles everywhere. Bottled water will be a thing of the past and everyone will have their own fabric napkins and non-plastic utensils will be a no-brainer. In this great future there will be all sorts of biodegradable wares made of locally grown bamboo, hemp, and birch, all features of reduced reliance on fossil fuels for their manufacture or process. In the meantime…
Greening • Waste Diversion • Composting • Recycling
Restaurants, Offices, Events, Festivals, Conferences
Keeping it Real, Keeping it Green
Having greened events have from Joshua Tree to Mendocino and from Ft. Bragg to Lake Tahoe, Green Mary now we focus on the San Francisco Bay Area: greening locally while affecting globally. We take into account all the components of the work we do and choose the most sustainable options to ensure smart practices at the deepest levels. We apply a carbon tax to all our events to offset our participation and driving and contribute those proceeds to The Climate Center.
Green Mary’s Green Team believes firmly in eco-education and in sending event participants away with more eco-information than they showed up with and strive for the best diversion rates at each event, often reaching up to 95% of event waste kept out of the landfill.
In 2002 Mary was at the Health and Harmony Festival in Sonoma County as the volunteer coordinator when she heard environmental activist Julia Butterfly-Hill fervently address the disconnect between putting on progressive festivals and the careless generating of waste. “It’s not enough to listen to cool speakers and espouse progressive values if you’re wreaking havoc on Mother Earth, your hostess,” was her anti-trashy message in a nutshell. “I won’t be back until this event is GREENED,” she said in regards to the festival.
Mary left the gathering with a longing to do more, and left the position of coordinator to start her own business and the Green Mary events greening business was born. The business started with the greening of one event the following year in 2003 and has grown to where Green Mary and their event waste-diversion and greening servies have managed the greening of over 250 event dates in 2016 alone. And she still LOVES her work, the people she gets to work with, and often lies awake at night devising ways to do more and do better.
Born in New York City, Mary Munat moved to Alameda from New Hampshire in 1987. A soldier in the US Army Reserves then, she worked part-time as an Army journalist, as a car salesperson and costumed balloon deliveries, too.
Mary dreams of the day that “greening services” become obsolete as changes on every level of society embrace waste-free events!
In her spare time, she’s an avid skier, a foster mom to shelter dogs, a big-time reader and meditator who loves napping, talking anti-trash, watching movies, working out, eating and time with friends.
I have always been “an environmentalist”, having grown up in very rural Vermont. As far as trash went, we hauled all the “waste” from my family’s ski lodge to the dump on an infrequent basis and there participated, alongside the residents of the five surrounding towns, in sorting all our bags to get down to minimal trash (“real” waste that no one could do anything else with). From little kids to old folks, we would put stuff for donating in one shed, toss tin in one cubicle, aluminum in another, paper, cardboard, plastic, glass (by color). And we would visit with each other while there and catch up on one another’s lives. This was super rural, our town had 122 people, so you pretty much had to go to the dump to get news of the rest of the “world.” After the mega-sorting was accomplished, only then we would drive to the pit where we would pay for before tossing the minimal remains.
From this auspicious beginning, I naturally, eventually entered the glorious greening world in the year 2000. I was working as the volunteer coordinator (ahem, unpaid, so volunteer volunteer coordinator) at Sonoma County’s Health and Harmony Festival in 2000 where I heard environmental activist Julia Butterfly-Hill speaking about her experience living up in a redwood tree for 738 days. She youthfully, bravely climbed to 180’ to take a stand for our natural resources. In a planet-fueled speaking tour, the fiery young woman pulled no punches at our local festival in jabbing at our eco-oversights and drew our attention to the overflowing trash cans at this “progressive” gathering. “THAT is where you tell your story… you cannot put on a party for the people, talk about the planet’s well-being and at the same time spit on her, your hostess in all things.” She stood for, and still stands for, a dramatic shift in approach where we think first and always about the source of all we receive and then logically, lovingly, tremendously reduce our detrimental environmental impact.
[show_more more=”Keep Reading” less=”Show less” align=”center”]Green light bulbs went off for me at the end of that speech, and I ran from the gathering in tears and the wheels began spinning around how to get rid of waste at public events. One of those moments where nothing makes sense and purpose is born. Within three years, unbeknownst to me then, I was on a path to help birth a now-burgeoning industry. First there was The Health and Harmony Festival and year after year, the word spread, our passionate eco-activist Green Team grew and together we have shared the zero waste gospel and, in 2019, greened over 350 event-related days.
Through event greening, a steady aim has been to shift the focus from a throw-away culture to reliance on re-usable wares. Recycling is NOT a sustainable path and behaving as though it is, merely enables events and participants and is ultimately harmful for the planet. Given how much has been provided for event attendees, there has grown to be a perceptible sense of entitlement. It’s as though we expect all wares to be provided us, our waste to be hauled away for us, the grounds to be cleaned up after us, and the earth to give and absorb until… she can no longer do so.
Recognizing that recycling and composting of waste at public events is a far cry from practicing zero waste lifestyles and event production, I strongly advocate around the need for reusable wares – toward that end, I started collecting dishes from thrift stores, friends, folks looking to purge their dishware and began an eco-lending library so that small local events could use real dishes . The planet is not for our resource consumption or dumping grounds, and we need view it with long-term sustainability in mind and at heart, at the root of all our practices. Easy for everyone, the lowest hanging fruit, is bringing our own utensils, napkins, and of course water bottles and coffee mugs!
At large events, until fully re-usable wares are permitted by health departments, we recognize the need to do what we can to minimize waste to the landfill so we choose the most highly recyclable and compostable food service wares and ensure that everything that can be composted or re-used is diverted from the landfill. We communicate with producers and food vendors around best practices and product choices, bring in water refill stations, and watch year by year as awareness and participation grow and dumpster sizes shrink!
Our Green Team employees (surging to 100+ by the peak of many busy greening seasons) passionately strive to re-create the event industry from the earth on up. From set-up to grounds cleaning, hauling and sorting, to diverting everything that can possibly have another life, I like to lead gently and enthusiastically from the shrinking landfill dumpster on out. I have served on the local AB939 to contribute solutions to Sonoma County’s waste issues and have recently re-joined the technical council of the California Resource Recovery Association’s Green Initiatives, Venues and Events. A prime passion is supporting food recovery and I am intensely focused on re-routing good food to feed either people or animals before resorting to sending it to soil building at a compost facility. We focus on getting food from businesses and events to shelters and homeless camps regularly and at all hours. I was a driving force behind the passage of Sonoma County’s plastic bag ban, am a green events trainer through the City of San Francisco and have recently been certified through CRRA in Zero Waste Principles and Practices.
Tyler has been a green angel for 4 years. He has been managing crews for the past year and improving his skills as a waste diverting engineer.
“4 Years?? Time flies when you are digging through waste! My time with Green Mary has been a delight. I not only get to work at great events in the Bay Area, but I feel good about the work that I am doing. Solving the problem of waste is a huge environmental concern and I am happy to be contributing to the solution. I hope the example that we are helping set in the Bay is replicated throughout the country!”
Saisha (aka Sensaishanal) joined the Green Team in September of 2009 during Alice’s Now & Zen Concert in Golden Gate Park (it was her first job ever) and years later (with some breaks in between) she’s still here rockin’ it in the compost department!
Saisha reports always finding peace of mind while working with for and with Green Mary. It brings her much satisfaction knowing that she is making the world a better place for not only her two kids, but all of the other children that will inherit this place that we call Mother Earth. And the ground scores are always an added bonus.
I have been with Green Mary for seven years and am now the head of greening operations out in the field. I was born and raised in the bay area and when not at work, I spend a lot of my spare time with my family. I have a strong connection with the earth and enjoy everything that is outdoors from the mountain ranges to the ocean. I love to try new foods and I’m always looking for new experiences.
Living in such an active community has made me conscious of the change happening everyday. Working for Green Mary has not only taught me about the environment and how to care for it, but I really appreciate that it has been an outlet to thousands of others passionate about being the change we would all like to see in the world. I continue to learn everyday from my peers and colleagues.
Being part of a zero-waste company brings me so much joy. When I go to work I’m part of something huge, pushing us toward ending global warming and reducing green house gases. At the end of the day there’s no better feeling than helping to save the world.
Tynan was introduced to green team work as a volunteer for Lightning in a Bottle Music Festival in 2015. In the time since, he has piloted and led a green team model for small events in Arizona and traveled up and down the west coast helping to green events, conferences, and festivals of all sizes.
Tynan carries a degree in Sustainable Built Environments from the University of Arizona, and hopes to turn his passion for sustainability into real world change.
Sheila Islam is from the Greater LA area and moved to the Bay Area in Fall of 2006 to attend San Francisco State University. She majored in Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice. While in this program, Sheila took a class titled “World of Garbage” that had an tremendous impact on the way Sheila thinks of waste, products, resources, and consumption.
Sheila brings her passion for all social justice issues and her knowledge on environmental issues to the table in her work at Green Mary. Sheila enjoys waste diversion as much as she loves gardening because she is actively able to see the fruits of her labor. When she is not working for Green Mary or gardening, Sheila enjoys spending time with her cat (Ducky), reading sci-fi and fantasy books, laughing at memes, staying up to date on current affairs, attending social justice workshops, riding bikes, and nature walks.
Fun fact about Sheila : She was interviewed by DemocracyNow! in Paris while attending a demonstration that urged decision makers at the UN Climate Change Conferences to come to an legally binding agreement that would curve climate change.
“I began recycling back in the early 70’s when it was a struggle to find a place to take the stuff. In 1995 I began working as a teacher at Healdsburg High and, through my club, the Progressive Club, organized. In 1998 or so two different garbage companies were competing for the contract with Healdsburg and I knew the environmentalist from each company. The company that won the contract provided the high school with 30+ blue, twenty galloon recycling bins. We then organized for regular pickup and soon had all but one teacher on board. The superintendent liked it because the company recycled for free so that we could reduce our dumpsters from three to two. The students in the club were environmentalists and those hours could be applied to community service hours which was a graduation requirement. We did door to door recycling for 13 years or so and used the money we made from gleaning the redemption items to fund our 5 years of Earth Day Festivals in the plaza. We did recycling every week, rain or shine, until I retired from that job in 2014.”
Ryan Gottlieb is a Bay Area local, growing up in Santa Rosa and Relocating to Oakland to continue his education in biological and psychological sciences. He first started greening as a teen, volunteering for local festivals and has continued to thrive and share his passion for environmental impact awareness with others. His favorite parts about event greening are looking at the waste produced after events are complete seeing what a huge impact his and the rest of the team’s hard work has made in limiting how much waste is headed to the landfill, and the appreciation of event participants when they learn “what goes where”.
On his down time he enjoys reading supernatural or dystopian novels, hiking, running, or any other excuse to be in the forest. Ryan also maintains his local community by clearing the neighborhood sidewalks and gutters of debris to reduce pollution to the bay.