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 she learned alongside San Jose State University Professor Frank Schiavo (1939-2010) throughout the final 4 years of his life..  

    “Frank” (as he was known to friends & students) helped change & evolve Silicon Valley’s environmental standards after living an inspiring & dedicated life- the environmental teacher that 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:

Touring an eco friendly home with Frank Schiavo by smtvfreevideos

The Story of Environmental Hero Frank Schiavo

    For over twenty years, Professor “Frank” Schiavo maintained & 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 & over again (including twist ties) for over 30 years in the middle of one of the United States’ largest cities,

frank's tear   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 at recycling center

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, & 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

Wild WIllpower array of greens

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.

garbage shopping

Rather than selling everything wrapped in garbage, companies are now switching to bulk sections in order to eliminate waste on the consumer level!

bulk section nuts

A photo from the beautiful, clean bulk sections @ Casa de Frutajust west from I-5 on the 152 toward San Jose about 10 miles on the left.  Tell them “Thank you for helping to sponsor The Wild Living Skills Database on WildLivingSkills.org!” & for offering things “package+free”!

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 Distance@WildWillpower.org.

burn paper waste

    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 Auntie Vulture’s favorite reusable canteen by GSI on our online store to help us continue carrying Frank’s beautiful burning torch by clicking on this banner:

GSI Outdoors Ad small one for site

   “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”:


“Grow deeply, roots, grow deeply

Up to branches branching neatly

Where the songbird sings so sweetly

Into the wind

Out through the breeze.

Your Love is evergreen!


Golden, glistening gasoline gathers at your trunk;

A lamp atop my torch & the glue which binds mine moccasins upon pressed carried sands.

Thine needle tea; mine joints which help me bend just as you do

& as the wind– mine voice– for thee to carry through!


Your Love is evergreen!

Make my Love evergreen!

Make Our Love evergreen!

Our Love is evergreen.



Stay firmly, rock, stay firmly

& when the raging river rushes over thee,

If your friends are swept away from thee

Into the streams

Out to the sea

Your Love shall ever be!


Ponder precious patience, perfecting vigil praise.

I’ve learned from thee steadfastfullness that’s found inside of grace

& when the waters came I held my ground just as you do.

With wisdom that your patience shown

Our Love shall see them through!


Your Love shall ever be!

Make my Love ever be!

Make Our Love ever be!

Our Love shall ever be.


Graze safely, deer, graze safely

On the plants Creator made for thee

& when the hunter comes to prey on thee

Out from the trees

You’ll hear me sing:

“Your Love is ever free!”


Frolic, fabled fawn. Forget– we not– your freedom, true.

Forgive them, please deer father, for they’ve known not else to do,

& when free peoples come to me I’ll sing thine freedom clear.

Thine voice come on through mine–

We shall sing them free as deer! 

Your Love is ever free!

Make my Love ever free!

Make Our Love ever free!

Our Love shall ever free.

Heavy Rock!

Want more help?  Here’s  a great video from one of our favorite stores, Rainbow Grocery Cooperative in San Francisco! (please write them an email on their site & tell them you heard of them through Wild Willpower if you’d like to help us build our alliance with them– GREAT store!)

   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 

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Learning from the Past to Prepare for the Future