Environmental Studies Professor Frank Schiavo, M.M.L. (1939-2010)

    Wild Willpower would not have been designed nearly as efficiently or ecologically-considerate without many insights learned from San Jose State University‘s Professor Frank Schiavo (1939-2010).  

    “Frank” (as he preferred to be called) helped change & evolve Silicon Valley’s environmental standards after living an inspiring & dedicated life- the Environmental Studies professor was known for “walking the walk” for several reasons:

  •  He & Sigmund Beck  built California’s first passive solar design home, & after being challenged by The City of San Jose because they believed “it did not meet Fire Code”, he met with City Council & was able to overturn their decision- thus legalizing Passive Solar Design Homes for us all.
  • When The City of San Jose said that Frank could not “paint his roof white” (which he was doing to conserve energy) because roofs had to be “earth tones” as they called them- black, brown, dark blue, dark green, etc.  He challenged this ruling, calling it “Arbitrary & Capricious” in court, & won- thus legalizing the “cool roof“).  He then measured the temperature of his loft space with his neighbor’s identical loft space under a dark roof, & he found his house stayed eleven degrees cooler during the summer, with no change in winter!
  • After maintaining a “zero trash home” for over 20 years, The City of San Jose passed a new ordinance which required residents to pay the same amount “whether they filled “one trash bag or nine”.  He refused to pay his $15/month garbage bill because he wasn’t producing garbage.!  Frank argued “because the people did not vote on it, the garbage service cannot be considered a tax- its not a user service I require.
  • He educated students for over 30 years, & gave tours of his “nearly off the grid house” to around 90 students per week from various schools & organizations for many years before his passing on January 26th, 2010.

    When Frank & Distance (Wild Willpower’s founder) first met, both had been upholding a “Zero-Trash Commitment” for several years – one of the many ecological commitments they would share in common.  He invited her to teach alongside him as a guest speaker at both San Jose State University & De Anza College, & for the last 4 years of his life, the two of them would give tours to about 90 students/week of his revolutionary home at 1186 Bayard Drive.  Here’s a video of him giving a tour of his amazing environmentally friendly home:

Touring an eco friendly home with Frank Schiavo by smtvfreevideos

The Story of “The Zero Trash Commitment”:

    For more than twenty years, Professor “Frank” Schiavo maintained and campaigned “The Zero-Trash Commitment”.   Frank is San Jose, California’s  renown trailblazer of the Earth Conscious- or “Environmental” movement.  

    Frank would purchase fresh organic produce as well as reuse bags for the bulk section over and over again (including twist ties) for over 30 years in the middle of one of the United States’ largest cities,

   Besides adamantly reusing bags, he also composted & recycled everything!  After about a week, he would have about a handful of garbage, which he would crumple up & put into the city garbage can.  “I pay taxes too!” he would say.    Here’s an old yearbook picture of Frank teaching about recycling “before it was cool”:

Frank on World News Tonight:

Frank on CNN:

      Eventually after he gained more public exposure, & stayed his ground, the City of San Jose realized he was correct, and Frank won!  Because he was recycling, re-using bags at the bulk section, purchasing fresh organic produce, gardening, AND composting, he freed himself from ever having to pay for his garbage bill again!  Frank truly had

One of Frank’s Favorite Songs, very fitting:

Some things Frank taught:

    The definition of an “extractive industry” is any industry which requires perpetual extractions of resources in order to operate (ie gas, coal, natural gas, nuclear).

    The opposite of “extractive industries” are “single extraction energy generators” , which require only one single extraction from the Earth, such as solar panels, wind turbines, tidal turbines, & so on.

      Weak, frail bags, styrofoam, & plasticware all all examples of “extractive industry packaging”.

   REMEMBER – don’t come down on yourself for not doing good enough, but just do the very best you can considering your circumstances.

    Rather than selling everything wrapped in garbage, companies are now switching to bulk sections in order to eliminate waste on the consumer level!  Here’s a photo from the beautiful, clean bulk sections @ Casa de Fruta; just west from I-5 on the 152 toward San Jose about 10 miles on the left.

    By re-using durable bags in bulk sections, one can eliminate waste on the consumer level!

    If your company is seeking bulk suppliers or if you are a bulk supplier who would like to promote via our online store, please contact adwilson8@dmacc.edu.

    If you are looking @ 2 products, & one has plastic, styrofoam, or metal packaging, & the other packaging is made from paper; go with paper whenever possible!  Paper scraps can be burned, which means using less trash bags.


    Sometimes there ISN’T a water button at the soft drink dispenser in the gas station for fast food restaurant, etc.; IN THAT CASE, fill your container with ice & then use the hot water button on the coffee dispenser to get cold water.   

     Please consider purchasing a reusable canteen:

   “Package management jobs” (i.e. creation of packaging, mining of products to create packaging, garbage services, etc.) create a negative-value on our economy, as they cause more work for less product.  They are like resistors in electronics, & de-value our currency, creating a negative-value on every product by paying the “resistor job” of package creation & removal.

“Odin'” by Distance Everheart  recorded by James Heyser @ Lighthouse Recording Studio (listen close to verse 2)- Frank is the “rock”:


     Want more help?  Here’s  a great video from one of our favorite stores, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco:

Articles about Frank:

Thorough article on SanJoseGreenHome.com by Tadas

Article about his passing by Lisa Fernandez

Thorough article with words from students by Isaiah Gunzman in The Spartan Daily

Really nice memoire in the Contra Costa Times by Lisa Fernandez

Sierra Club article by Glen Martin highlighting the passive solar design structure of Frank’s home

“San Jose Loses 2 Heroes”; Honourable Mention of Frank by The San Jose Peace & Justice Center 

Learning from the Past to Prepare for the Future