Feb 8 - Frank Schiavo: Zero Waste Pioneer

Frank Schiavo, a beloved retired professor dubbed the "messiah of the environment" for being green before it was cool, passed away this week. Schiavo taught environmental studies at San Jose State University from 1974 to 2003. Schiavo was frequently profiled by local and national media for his "zero waste" ethic—he really lived it. Schiavo composted in his front yard, washed dishes by hand, took short showers (his average PG&E bill was $11 a month) and prided himself on not creating any garbage. Schiavo made headlines in 1994 when he sparred with the San Jose City Council after the city ruled he had to pay a monthly garbage bill even though his house didn't generate any trash. He only used his car once a week, to run errands for others or for big grocery shopping trips, where, of course, he brought along his own bags. He also was known for adding a fourth "r" to the reduce, reuse, recycle mantra: refuse. "If it cannot be recycled or composted," he often repeated, "don't buy it."

The list of Schiavo's achievements and memberships is long. He was a member of Citizens Against Airport Pollution and vice president of the Michael Lee Environmental Foundation. In 2003, he was honored by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, a nonprofit that seeks to improve the environmental health and safety practices of the global electronics industry. In 1996, he was inducted into the Santa Clara County Environmental Hall of Fame as a founding member. In 1971, he was named "Teacher of the World". Schiavo, a mentor to thousands of students, opened his 1,500-square-foot home, complete with water-filled walls and a solar roof, to school groups for touring.

If you knew or were inspired by Frank, share your perspectives in his Guest Book.