Coastal Cleanup Day – September 18, 2021

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Coastal Cleanup Day is back in action to the way it was before COVID-19. This
litter cleanup event will be in-person, with site captains and volunteers following the most current San Mateo County Health Order at all times. Grab your buckets, gloves, and loved ones, and enjoy a return to normalcy by gathering with others once again to make a difference in your community.

On Saturday, September 18, 2021, from 9 a.m. to noon, San Mateo County is hosting over 50 cleanup sites and thousands of volunteers gathering in groups to divert and recycle litter to prevent it from ending up in our ocean as pollution.

This is a welcome change from last year where COVID-19 safety requirements only permitted households to clean up their local neighborhoods. While Coastal Cleanup 2020 was a great way to get outside during the pandemic, multiple veteran volunteers stated it “just wasn’t the same. There is a sense of coming together as a community that motivates and inspires people.”

If you are looking for an opportunity to help beautify and protect your community, and be inspired by fellow volunteers, register today at to find a location near you.

Butts in the Bay or on the Beach Bugging You?

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Cigarette butts are made of plastic and do not biodegrade.

Cigarette butts that are dropped or flicked away as litter can easily be blown or washed into storm drains that lead directly into waterways without filtration.

Be a Cigarette Butt Litter Leader:

  1. Request and give FREE pocket and auto ashtrays to friends and family who smoke to remind them to bin their butts. Email or call/text (650) 388-2646 to request one today.
  2. Help pick up these tiny, toxic pieces of litter by participating in litter cleanup events, like Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 18, 2021! Visit for more information.
  3. Call, text, or email us if you see a cigarette butt litter hot spot area in need of some attention.

For more information on cigarette butt litter reduction in San Mateo County visit

School Share Tables

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Addressing Food Waste and Insecurity in Post-Pandemic Times

While COVID-19 has deeply affected all of us, some of the hardest-hit places during the pandemic were schools. Many families in San Mateo County who experience food insecurity rely on school breakfasts and lunches to keep their children fed. While schools were closed and classes were held remotely, many families struggled to put food on their tables. With
schools returning to in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year, San Mateo County
is working hard to make sure school share tables are a safe, healthy resource to reduce hunger and food waste in accordance with California Retail Food Code and COVID-19 safety standards.

A school share table allows students who don’t finish their school lunches to put their unopened or unbitten food on a table where other students, who may still be hungry, can have extra helpings. By monitoring the school share table during meal times and strictly adhering to food handling laws and COVID-19 safety protocols, food left on the share table at the end of a lunch period can be used for another school meal or donated to a non-profit and distributed to other people in the community. The School Share Table Program is just one way San Mateo County is curtailing climate change and safely serving the diverse needs of its people during the pandemic.
“Our overarching goal is to meet the needs of the environment while also meeting the needs of San Mateo County’s residents,” states Emilie Dirck, San Mateo County’s School Share Table program coordinator. “Safety is at the forefront of our Share Table Program and we are striving to keep all children and school staff healthy by incorporating COVID-19 protocols into school meal routines.”
If you are a family member, teacher, or school administrator interested in establishing a share table at your school, please contact San Mateo County Environmental Health Services at (650) 464-7079 or visit for more information. Together we can end hunger and combat climate change.

Household Hazardous Waste Program – We’re Back!

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Is your closet, garage or carport planning a revolt unless you free up some space?
San Mateo County’s convenient household hazardous waste (HHW) recycling opportunities help you safely free up space and help you breathe easier. Less HHW means a healthier home.

HHW is waste from your home that is toxic, corrosive, flammable, or reactive based on its chemical properties. Products such as batteries, paint and paint thinner, pesticides and fertilizers, and poisons are considered hazardous waste. It’s illegal and unsafe to dump HHW in the trash or down the drain.

One-Day Collection Events Have Resumed!

Visit to make a drop-off appointment, find a list of alternative, safe management options for hard-to-recycle special items, and find local recycling and disposal options for paint, electronics, fluorescent lights, medicines, and more.

Ready to go to your HHW drop-off appointment? Do not package HHW in plastic bags! Boxes or containers are safer for you and the HHW event staff.

Moving? Things to Know Before You Go

If you have HHW you no longer need or do not want to move, make sure you don’t leave them behind.
Homeowners and tenants are legally responsible for the safe management of any HHW in the home. That means your realtor or landlord cannot move or legally transport your HHW – HHW can only legally be transported by the person or persons who generated that waste.
If you’re moving out make sure to properly dispose of your HHW, and if you’re moving in—confirm that you’re not stuck with the leftovers. Visit for more information. If you have questions, contact us at or (650) 372-6200.

Upcoming 2021 HHW Collection Events

Daly City
Saturday, September 11
Redwood City
Saturday, September 25
San Mateo
Weekly, Thursday-Saturday

South San Francisco Saturday, October 2
Portola Valley
Saturday, October 23
San Mateo
Weekly, Thursday-Saturday

South San Francisco Saturday, November 6
Redwood City
Saturday, November 13
San Mateo
Weekly, Thursday-Saturday

South San Francisco Saturday, December 4
Daly City
Saturday, December 11
San Mateo
Weekly, Thursday-Saturday

Make an appointment at today.

Marine Flare Collection Event, Saturday, November 2nd

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San Mateo County Environmental Health Services will be hosting a one-day marine flare collection event on Saturday, November 2nd for recreational boaters who berth a boat or live in San Mateo County. 

Locations & Time
 Pillar Point Harbor 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. 
1 Johnson Pier, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019 

Oyster Point Marina, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. 
95 Harbor Master Road, South San Francisco, CA 94080 

How to Prepare
Step 1: Inventory Your Flares
Inventory the number of flares you have. If you have damaged, decayed, unusual, expired, very old, or large flares, contact San Mateo County by phone or email below for options.

Step 2: Make an Appointment
For more information and to schedule an appointment, contact Wesley Won at 
(650) 655-6217 or If you reach the voicemail, please leave your name, address, phone, email, and number of flares you’d like to dispose of. You will receive a call back confirming your appointment. 

Step 3: Day of Your Appointment
Transport flares safely by keeping them in original packaging, and protecting flares from movement during transportation to the collection event.


Do I have to make an appointment? 
Yes, an appointment is required. To schedule an appointment, contact Wesley Won at (650) 655-6217 or email  

Is there a fee to dispose of my flares? 

Who can participate in the event?
This event is restricted to recreational boaters who berth a boat or live in San Mateo County. No flares will be accepted from businesses or organizations.

What type of flares will you accept?
We will accept handheld, parachute, aerial, and handgun flares. No military-type devices or flares from commercial craft, businesses, or organizations. 

Is there a limit to how many marine flares I can bring?
There is no limit. 

Will this collection event accept any other household hazardous waste?
No other household hazardous waste such as paint, batteries, and oil will be accepted at this event. To make an appointment to safely manage your household hazardous waste, please call (650) 372-6200 or visit

Who should I contact for more information?
Please call Wesley Won at (650) 655-6217 or email 

Marine signal devices are considered explosives and therefore difficult to dispose of.
San Mateo County Environmental Health Services’ Household Hazardous Waste Program is conducting this event with funding from CalRecycle. The event is a pilot program intended to help develop future collection opportunities for boaters to properly dispose of their marine flares. 

Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday, September 21st

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Calling All Volunteers!

Do you ever see litter on the road and want to do something about it? Now’s your chance! Join 5,000+ volunteers in San Mateo County on Saturday, September 21st from 9 a.m. to Noon and help stop litter on our streets from becoming ocean pollution on Coastal Cleanup Day.

Coastal Cleanup Day is an annual waterway and land cleanup that is celebrating its 35th birthday as the largest cleanup event in the State!

Why You Should Volunteer:

• Improve your community by cleaning up and protecting the environment and wildlife.

• Build connections with different individuals and organizations participating.

• Make a difference and help remove commonly littered items such as cigarette butts, plastic bags, food wrappers, and bottles.

• There are over 40 cleanup locations that include beaches, creeks, waterways, parks, and neighborhoods throughout the County.

• Volunteers will receive a 20% off Sports Basement coupon (while supplies last).

• A perfect event to attend with your family, friends, or co-workers.

• All volunteers who bring a reusable bucket, gloves, mug, or water bottle get a stainless steel reusable straw and cleaner! (While supplies last)

• Select Cleanup sites are participating in Pacific Beach Coalition’s Butt Blitz so that all of the toxic, plastic, smelly cigarette butts you pick up will be recycled.  

Too Good to Waste

Reduce Household Hazardous Waste by Sharing Leftover Unwanted Products 


Have you ever found yourself in the middle of home improvement or cleaning only to realize you are missing one product to complete the job? Instead of racing to the store to purchase an item you may never use again and take up valuable storage space after your project is complete, consider these more sustainable solutions that are better for your wallet and the planet!

1. Ask a neighbor. You’d be surprised that what you need lives in the garage or under the sink next door waiting to be put to good use. If you don’t interact with your neighbors often, consider joining Nextdoor. Nextdoor is a private social media network for your neighborhood that can be downloaded as a mobile app or accessed by logging in on your computer. You’ll often see residents on Nextdoor posting household products for free or looking to exchange.

2. Free Product Give Away Program. Many products collected at San Mateo County’s Household Hazardous Waste collection events are still in good condition. Products include but are not limited to gardening, hobby and craft, automotive care, household cleaners and care products. The Program redistributes these items for free, but remember, please only take what you need. For location and more information, visit


Benefits of Sharing Unwanted Products
• Saves money.
• Saves a trip to the store.
• Reduces resources and energy used in the production and disposal of goods.
• Reduces Household Hazardous Waste.
• Reduces risk of pollution in the environment.
• Keeps your family and pets safe from unwanted chemicals piling up in the
garage or under the kitchen sink.

School Share Tables Save Food, Feed Children

A simple solution to reduce food waste and address child hunger

In 2018, San Mateo County Environmental Health Services started the Food Share Table Program and in only a year we’ve come a long way!

To date we’ve partnered with Rethink Waste, and the Office of Sustainability to successfully introduce a program that teaches students and school staff how to safely share food during meal time at 11 schools in the County. That’s approximately 5,000 students now saving an average of 16,000 pieces of food per school during the school year with a share table in place.

The Program is helping to divert hundreds of tons of food from being thrown in our landfills daily, which prevents methane generation, a greenhouse gas emission causing climate change.

The amazing part is, 16,000 pieces of food previously feeding the landfill are
now providing an extra serving of edible food to elementary school students whose only meal of the day may be in the school cafeteria.

How Does the Program Work?

Environmental Health Services train teachers and school employees on how to share food safely using a Share Table Guide developed by food safety staff and provide schools with color code food grade bins. They are also educated on how to safely donate surplus food to other organizations at the end of the lunch period.

Students get an overview of how the table works and a game is played to help teach them what food goes where and why the share table is important. During lunch, students can place food in and take food out of the colorful share table bins which are separated by hot food, cold food, packaged shelf stable food, and utensils and condiments.

Only unopened, unbitten cafeteria food is allowed on the table, no food from home is allowed. School staff monitor the table and manage the remaining food according to food safety rules.

How Can I Support Starting a Share Table at My Child’s School?

Establishing a share table at your child’s school is a team effort. It requires the support of the school district, the principal, school staff, and Environmental Health Services to make it a success and ensure food safety is maintained. If you would like to see a share table at your child’s school, please contact us at (650) 372-6252, and visit for more information.

Happy Tales of Healthy Nails


Visit a Certified Healthy Nail Salon

The Healthy Nail Salon Program is proudly celebrating five years of raising the health standards of the nail salon experience in San Mateo County. San Mateo County Environmental Health Services staff is continuing a movement to certify and educate
select salon owners and employees about improving indoor air quality in salons and making a fuss about unhealthy fumes in the air. Health and happiness in the salon isn’t just about sanitation, and no pedicure is worth the poison.

The Program addresses years of women compromising their health by having to smell that signature combination of chemical cocktails in the salon in order get that summer pedicure or nail service for a special event.

After five years, the County has certified 21 salons that are committed to improved ventilation by opening windows and doors, using a ventilation unit that filters toxic acrylic dust and fumes from the air, and by allowing County staff to audit the salon to ensure only the least toxic nail polish, removers, and acrylic liquids and powders are used on customers.

And it’s not just San Mateo County’s 21 salons that are committing to a healthier environment, there are over 150 salons in our neighboring counties of Santa Clara and San Francisco that are also making the commitment and becoming certified by government staff.

The best part is select certified San Mateo County salon owners are offering $5 certificates for any customer who wants to love their lungs and their nails by selecting a healthy nail salon service. Simply show the certificate (listed above) to any of the salons with an asterisk to redeem, and refer to the certificate validation details.

Certificate Update: Lyna’s Beauty Salon in Menlo Park is no longer offering certificates, but is still a certified healthy salon.

Safe Sharps Disposal

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Sharpen Your Disposal Knowledge

Many people and pets use sharps to get the medicine they need to manage a variety of medical conditions. Sharps waste includes any device that penetrates the skin to deliver medications. Disposing of sharps waste safely at a collection bin helps protect people, our furry friends, and the environment.

• Place used sharps in a sealed, puncture proof container.
• No larger than 1 gallon in size.
• Securely seal the container.
• Repurposed containers must be taped, puncture proof, and labeled “sharps.”
• Bring sealed sharps container to the drop-off bin.
• Never put loose sharps into the bins.

sharps no backgroundCan’t drop-off your sharps? There are several sharps mail-back options and free container programs that may be available to you depending on what type of medication you use. To find out more information about safe sharps disposal visit

Have more than just sharps to dispose of? Drop-off unwanted or expired medicine at over 50 convenient kiosks in San Mateo County. For a list of locations, or to find out about mail-back package options for disabled or home bound residents, visit