by LYDIA COBB | photos by Soul of Photography

Giving Back to the Planet

Growing up in Del Cerro, Zelda Waxenberg and her friends played outside a lot. “We were free to hike in the canyons, ride our bikes down to Mission Valley to the Challenge Dairy for fresh ice cream, and then onto horseback riding,” explained Zelda. “And we surfed most weekends.” Her major at UC Santa Barbara was originally in marine biology, but her interests in environmental sciences and economics led her to The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

Zelda Waxenberg is an entrepreneur, sustainable real estate developer, and community activist. “Before sustainability became a key phrase,” mentioned Zelda, “I implemented environmentally friendly construction in both commercial and residential real estate projects throughout San Diego and the Southwest.” It’s only natural that Zelda would venture into sustainable design. Along with business partner Steve Cherry, Zelda helped found Bottles & Wood. Wine barrels, wood, glass, and bottles are repurposed for personal use, gifts, and use in the hospitality industry, uniquely fitted to the craft brewery and farm-to-table establishments. Bottles & Wood handcrafts servingware that complements the upcycling movement all the way out to the tables, chairs, lighting, and décor. It began with the goal to educate communities about the benefits of upcycling, and to create local jobs with fair wages – while keeping landfills from filling. “Think about the forward-thinking ideas in zero waste, energy usage, land use, and architectural design that have developed over the past decade,” mused Zelda, who’s also involved in community building and philanthropy.

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“Del Mar has a wonderful, active community,” mentioned Zelda. She definitely enjoys being a part of it – participating on the city’s Cultural Arts Committee and Sustainable Advisory Board and also supporting Del Mar Lifeguards. Participating in UCSD’s ArtPower in music and film delivers inspiration, as does staying involved in San Diego’s Jewish community organizations. Bottles & Wood hosts tours for schoolchildren and also presented a women’s entrepreneur class in sustainable business. “Sustainability of the environment is everyone’s responsibility,” added Zelda. She encourages citizens to take the first step to recycle and become familiar with or even join green organizations.

She admits her free time is precious, and said, “I love walking and swimming at the beach with my Golden Retrievers, sailing, yoga, and great times with my friends and family.” It’s this natural inspiration that Zelda upcycles into her life’s purpose and work.


Name: Zelda Waxenberg
Profession: Entrepreneur and Co-founder of Bottles & Wood
Community: Del Mar since 1980
Interests: Sailing, ocean swimming, cultural arts, music, theater
Favorite Local Spots: Pacifica Del Mar, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, UCSD ArtPower