Be an environmental hero
Share the Love for the Environment
Tip of the Month posts
You’re in the car/truck/motorcycle, waiting at a stop light, and wonder, “is there anything I can do right now, that can help curb my gas and carbon usage?” Well, guess what there is!
What you can do: Regular car maintenance is important for keeping your car in top efficiency, which will save you gas and overall wear on your vehicle. Driving more consciously with a more steady, less speedy, manner also helps. If you need to replace a vehicle, try to buy alternative fuel, or the most MPG rated vehicles given your lifestyle.
How this impacts Bolsa Chica: Making sure your car is in good condition decreases the chance you are spilling motor oil or other liquids from the bottom of the car. These liquids get washed into our watershed and end up in the waters of Bolsa Chica, which isn’t good for the health and resilience of the Reserve or the wildlife. Would you want to go swimming and living in water that’s has leftover greasy motor oil floating in it?
Transportation has a huge environmental impact on this planet, so we are going to break up all the different ways to decrease your carbon footprint (literally) over a few posts. Here in Southern California, the infrastructure was designed for cars and not public transportation, pedestrians or bike paths. Most families have at least one car, if not more. For most, a car is a daily necessity. Even many of our state and national parks are not accessible without a car/bus and visiting those have many good, environmentally important purposes. How we drive and maintain our vehicles helps us decrease the unavoidable carbon impact.
A. Your own vehicle
Making sure the oil isn’t leaking, check for proper tire pressure, and clean filters. Make sure the engine is in tuned up too, to make use of the gas in the most efficient way. Cruising to stops instead of gunning the gas and slamming on the breaks (no lead feet please), in general not speeding, and not carrying unnecessarily heavily loads all the time improve overall gas usage. Don’t crawl up to the speed limit either though. Drive with windows up, and use the A/C sparingly. Stay in gear when coasting down hills (not neutral). If possible, drive less overall, drive during the cooler times of day in the summer, and don’t warm up your car for more than a minute on cold mornings (it doesn’t take long to warm up the engine and you end up wasting gas). Turn off your engine if you are waiting to pick someone up or are just chilling in your car. Remove storage racks from the top of you car when you are not using them, because they create drag and makes the engine work harder. When you wash your car, either take it to a shop that recycles all the water it uses to wash cars, or leave it outside during a rainy day to let nature take care of it. If you prefer to wash your car yourself in your driveway, at least use biodegradable soap (the drain goes straight out to areas like Bolsa Chica) and turn off the hose when not using it. If you have more than one car, drive the one that gets better MPGs as your first choice.
B. Family and friends
Plan enough time for travel when you are scheduling errands, school pick ups and drop offs, work meetings, etc. so you and your family aren’t rushing out the door and speeding down the road to get there on time. If someone is notoriously slow or late, give yourself extra time. It will cut down on the stress of being late as well as wasting gas and driving more dangerously in a rushed state of mind. Carpool with the car that gets the best MPG when feasible.
Vote for legislation that incentivizes alternative fuel vehicles like electric cars and overall carbon lowering measures for your city, state, and country. You can also vote for cleaner gas standards, or incentives for choosing cars with better MPGs (like smaller cars, hybrids) or incentives for manufacturers to make better MPG/zero emission vehicles.
Going to work, to school, to the grocery store (mid-summer popsicles anyone?), we all have to get there somehow. Even though sometimes taking a car is unavoidable, there are ways to get around more efficiently without having to frantically bike home before all the frozen treats have melted.
What you can do: One way to make your gas and, therefore, gas money is planning out the best route to do all your errands in one trip. If you have to go to work, pick up the kids, and grab dinner on the way home, try to run all the errands in the fewest miles possible with the least amount of stops, so you are not constantly accelerating and decelerating. Highways usually give the most miles with the highest MPG rate, just not in rush hour traffic. Along those same lines, carpooling is probably one of the best ways to get the most bang for the buck in terms of gas per errand. Carpool whenever possible.
How this impacts Bolsa Chica: If you’ve ever tried to park in the South parking lot off of PCH right after lunch on a Saturday afternoon or a Saturday morning on one of our Restoration work days, you know parking is at a premium in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve parking lots. We encourage carpooling every time we hold an event on site to help with the parking lot congestion. We even have volunteers directing traffic most restoration mornings because it gets so packed. In this case carpooling helps with parking and the environment.
Transportation has a huge environmental impact on this planet, so we are going to break up all the different ways to decrease your carbon footprint (literally) over a few posts. Here in Southern California, the infrastructure was designed for cars and not public transportation, pedestrians or bike paths. Most families have at least one car, if not more. For most, a car is a daily necessity. Even many of our state and national parks are not accessible without a car/bus and visiting those have many good, environmentally important purposes. How we utilize the car trips helps us decrease the unavoidable carbon impact.
A. Your own car
In the morning or the night before, plan out all the errands you have to run that day, where they are located, and if there are any time constraints ( for example, if you have a doctor’s appointment at 1pm). Then plan out the best route with the least amount of mileage, fewest stops, and best MPG rates (keep in mind that the best route isn’t always the fastest nor shortest route). Often times, starting with the errand that is farthest away and then hitting up the rest of the errands on the way home is best. There are apps that can do this for you, or you can even map it all out in Google maps and bring that with you (I’m looking at you map printers). If you are really savvy, you can find a central location for your errands, park, and then walk to complete them. In addition, carpool as much as possible. Carpool to work with coworkers, be a part of the van share program, or other carpooling apps (Waze App has a new carpool feature). Carpool to events on the weekends. A bonus is you can use the HOV lane on highways which could save time and gas.
B. Family and friends
Get your kids/partners/family involved! If you have kids make it a competition to find the best route. If you are really into collecting data to track progress, record how many errands were run per mile for a ‘regular’ day, and then for a “high efficiency route’ day as well as how much gas each day used. You can then calculate how much mileage and gas money you saved generally (it will probably take many trips to see any difference because of the different variables involved). Make a family challenge to use just one car, or one trip to get all the errands, school trips, music lessons, and work drop-offs in a week. Carpool is hopefully already part of your family routine, but you can try to get your relatives and friends to carpool with you too. Per family it saves gas money, is easier to park a group of friends at a busy shopping center or tiny parking lot (Bolsa Chica), and you don’t have to worry about losing your grandparents on the highway who were supposed to be following your racecar driving aunt to the family reunion dinner.
Let your friends and digital networks know about these tools to calculate the best route. For instance Waze App, Googlemaps, Roadtrippers, inRoute Route Planner, and probably even more (some free, some paid) are apps on your phone that help determine the best route to your destinations. Start a rideshare at work or at school to make carpooling options easier to find and commit to for everyone. Create an incentive program to carpool. Vote in favor of ride sharing programs (and parking options) and public transportation projects through your city.
You wash your face, brush your teeth, take a shower and feel all refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead. But did you know, you could be bathing with plastic, palm oil, or potentially environmentally harmful chemicals (not to mention the production or testing of these products)?! There have been positive strides towards making these products better for the environment, but that doesn’t mean we stop being vigilant.
What you can do: Make sure your soaps, toothpaste, cleanser, face wash, even makeup doesn’t contain polyethylene (PE) or polypropylene (PP), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polymethlyl methacrylate (PMMA) or nylon. Also, see if it contains palm oil because the industrialization of palm oil is causing environmental damage through deforestation where it is grown. In terms of chemicals, opt for items that don’t contain a long list of stuff you don’t know (fewer ingredients are probably better in general), are cruelty free (often times labelled as such), or buy products that are on safe cosmetic lists (see full post for links). Lastly, opt for reusable, not disposable, razors and items like that.
From microplastics to aerosol cans like hairspray that containing chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), the personal care and cosmetic products have gotten more environmentally friendly, granted with federal regulations (see resources for more info). But there is always more to be done. This issue effects our global environment – and our local one. During each of our trash clean-ups at Bolsa Chica, we unfortunately find many types of personal care items polluting our environment. Disposable razors, plastic one-use floss sticks (found in abundance), and even toothbrushes are regularly removed from our wetlands.
A. Start with your personal items
Go through your personal care products and check the labels. There are cleansers and scrubs that use ground nut shells as an exfoliate, more ‘natural’ ingredients* or ingredients you’ve heard of like jojoba oil or apricot, and avoid palm oil based soaps. There are companies like Lush that create small batch products with limited packaging such as dry shampoo. You can find other companies that use environmentally friendly practices and materials at http://www.safecosmetics.org/ and others (listed below). Buy recycled, non-plastic, bulk items. For instance, buy soap in bulk to refill smaller soap dispensers, or buy bars of soap which are sometimes sold in paper and not plastic wrap. Buy an electric razor instead of disposable razors. This is by no means an exhaustive list, get creative!
B. Family and friends
Give environmentally friendly products as gifts to family and friends! That’s the easiest way to spread the love. Or, if you are the DIY type, make your own soap and care products, it’s easier than you think. Some that are really fun to make are your own bath bombs or sugar/salt scrubs. You can use small glass jars to store these homemade care products as well.
C. Societal action
Shop at stores that make it a mission to be environmentally and animal friendly. Shop local makers of goods at farmer markets and swap meets and talk to them about what ingredients they use and where they source their materials. Sign petitions in favor of more research into the environmental damage, health, and safety of these chemicals, and if warranted, regulations to control the use of these ingredients.
*natural ingredients are starred, because the term ‘natural’ is not clearly defined within the context of ingredients
Hygiene. The stuff that is both taboo and yet talked about all the time, from the best face cleanser to dealing with monthly cycles. This month we are going to focus on the ladies and talk about one of the more taboo topics: periods. Keeping good personal hygiene once a month during your period can be very wasteful. Regardless of how long or heavy your flow is, there is some waste associated with periods.
What you can do: Instead of disposable tampons, buy a reusable silicon cup instead! We admit, that sounds gross, but they are designed to be easy to clean, not smell, and not leak more than a tampon. Dare we even say, hygienic? Still have that ick factor? Chose the simple unbleached cotton tampons without all the extra plastic and packaging (you really don’t need the cardboard applicator). You can also try cloth pads instead of disposable pads if pads are more your thing. Overall, we can generate less waste every time we menstruate.
Diving deeper into the realm of female hygiene, we all bleed once a month and have to somehow deal with the blood. It’s just a part of life, a part of life that, with a little thought and learning to be comfortable with our bodies, we can be environmentally conscious about at the same time. Saving money in the long run doesn’t hurt either.
A. Start with your personal items
There are a lot of environmentally friendly options out there – believe it or not. From sponges to silicone cups to cloth pads, we can stay clean, have good hygiene, and still not send more plastic and trash to the dump. (No, please don’t try to recycle your used products.) Sponges and menstrual cups are used the same as tampons, but instead of tossing out the whole thing, you just empty the blood, clean, and reuse. Cloth pads are used the same as disposable pads except with velcro or a snap closure instead of an adhesive back. Clean used cloth pads with cold soapy water if you don’t want to run them in your washing machine. Hydrogen peroxide, as well as baking soda, can be used to help with stains for both cups and pads. Lastly, with newer technology, there are now undies and even pants that can absorb a lot of menstrual blood without the need for pads or inserts (up to a point). How cool is that?!
- vaginal sponges
- menstrual cups
- cloth pads
- absorbent undiesB. Share these alternatives with your female family and friends
Guys, feeling a little left out of this post? Well, join in and share these alternative options if the opportunity arises. Many people don’t know that there are alternatives out there. The younger generations are more environmentally focused and concerned about their personal environmental impact. The older generations need to teach them about all the options out there, not just the ones they see on ads.
C. Societal action
Right now this topic is taboo. It really shouldn’t be; half the population goes through it every month! Speak up, and together we can make menstruation, periods, and personal hygiene acceptable topics of conversation and education. Along those same lines, currently in most US states female hygiene products are not exempt from tax like other necessities. The question to ask is: are female hygiene products necessities? It’s really hard to ask that question if the entire subject of menstruation is taboo don’t you think? Let’s change that, for after all, it’s biologically natural and normal, and it’s not going to go away.
Have you been bitten by the KonMari bug? Are you ready to tackle your home with determination to discard anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’? But what to do with all that joyless stuff?
What you can do: First, be more cognizant of your shopping habits and evaluate if that thing you want to buy is something that will spark joy instead of just clutter your nightstand (the Refuse in the 5-Rs). Second, do the rest of the 5-Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle (or, if it’s food, Rot – in other words, compost). Try to do the recycling, be it clothes, books, electronics, plastics, etc. en mass to use less gas and time. However, with that said, don’t let it become clutter in your garage either!
The KonMari Method for tiding up, developed by Mari Kondo, is currently a hot topic after her new Netflix’s show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo,” hit TVs Jan. 1st 2019. Mari Kondo has written a few books on the topic, most notably The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In a very small nutshell, the philosophy is to keep only items that ‘spark joy'. Tiding-up and living in a clutter-free atmosphere de-stresses and improves your health. Who doesn’t want to be healthy and less stressed? The goal is to not only declutter, but to take it one step more, to start valuing and being more conscious about the stuff we take into our homes. Not to get into the nitty-gritty (go read the book), but there will be piles of stuff that do not spark joy, and the next question is, being environmentally conscious, what do you do with all that joyless stuff?
A. Start with your personal items
So you have bags and bags of items that need to be discarded. Start with items that can be sold on Ebay, Nextdoor, Facebook, etc. Next, try to give items away to people who could use it, in other words, rehome those items. If you can’t sell or find new homes for it, donate usable items like clothes, electronics, books, shoes, furniture, etc. to a local donation center or thrift store. Some items that are not usable, are recyclable – like certain plastics, glass, paper, electronics, even textiles/clothes. Recycle them at the appropriate place. Finally, once all the items that can be sold, rehomed, donated, or recycled are gone, what’s left (hopefully not much) can be trashed. To keep in the spirit of lowering your carbon foot print, do those things en mass. For instance, take all the recycling and donations in one trip. Remember, in the spirit of KonMari, beware of letting these piles become more clutter in the garage! Here are some handy websites and places to start looking for sites that sell, donate, or recycle:
- Facebook local groups
- Goodwill or Salvation Army
- Some retailers also accept textile donations in store
- TerraCycle.com for recycling (some free methods, other paid)
- Check your city for recycling centers for hazard waste (paint and the like)/electronics, glass, aluminum, plastic and paper
- Your waste management probably picks up paper, plastic, and glass recycling (even greenwaste from your yard) from your sidewalk too!
B. Share this philosophy with your family and friends
Sharing is caring, right? Share the book and philosophy with your family, roommates, and friends if you think it would help them. This type of decluttering is not for everyone, but the general concept of reducing what and how much one buys in this materialistic consumer oriented world is one everyone could do. Change starts at home.
C. Join and promote community recycling, freecycling, wastefree groups, or start one yourself
Talk to people about the many different ways they can discard unwanted stuff in an environmentally friendly way. Not only that, but on these sites or community groups, start a discussion about buying less, accompanied by all the benefits of decluttering, which will help prevent the clutter from accumulating to begin with!
 About KonMari
 How Decluttering Can Actually Benefit Your Health
9 Ways Your Life Will Improve When You Declutter
6 Benefits of an Uncluttered Space, the psychology behind organizing and decluttering
The Economics of Tidying Up
New Year, new you? How about just a more environmentally conscious you without all the bells and whistles of resolutions and hullabaloo? First step is an easy one, take a step out in nature!
What you can do: Literally go outside to a local park, natural open area, or dedicated reserve, preserve, or sanctuary! We might be biased, but Bolsa Chica is PERFECT for an evening stroll. Bonus, it’s free, local, and an easy walk as it’s mostly flat. Oh, and we have spectacular fauna and flora to boot.
Being out in nature or green space has many supported evidence to improve long term and short term mental and physical health. “Natural elements that promote well-being include trees, diverse vegetation, local biodiversity, water features, parks, natural playscapes, community gardens, and school gardens” is a good summary of all the different things that fit into the abstract concept of ‘nature’ or ‘green space’ (American Public Health Association). From lower stress and depression, better attention and focus, boost in creativity, to lower risk of major health diseases like inflammation, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, even potentially cancer (read about the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’). Nature play is also very important for children. The decreasing amount of time kids spend outside compared to inside on a screen, is being labelled as Nature deficit disorder. Let’s save the future generation for this disorder and teach them a great respect and appreciation for nature. Sources and more resources below.
A. Go for a walk
Literally. Go outside, find a park, take a walk. It’s as simple as that. Even better (and closer)? Plant a garden, native plants preferred, in your yard! If you only have a balcony then fill it with native plants in pots. Native plants can do well in containers. Grow indoor plants (if you have small children or pets grow non-toxic plants) which can help too, especially if there is a storm outside. The CDC recommends “adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week.”
B. Take your family and friends out with you!
Bring the whole family! Lead a hike with a local hiking or walking group at a local park (meetup.com, local environmental park organizations, and the Sierra Club are just some of the places to look for local hikes). Come to one of our FREE docent led walks at Bolsa Chica the third Sunday of every month! Garden with the kids or join a community garden (or start one if you neighborhood doesn’t have one).
C. Support local and national efforts to promote parks and open space
The Bolsa Chica Land Trust is one local non-profit who vigilantly fights to save the last remaining open space at Bolsa Chica, and who supports other local efforts to save and restore open space in Southern California. Nationally, organizations like The Trust for Public Land and the Nature Conservancy, are trying to save and restore, both small and large natural areas and parks throughout the USA. The Trust for Public Land even has an campaign to give everyone access to #10minwalk to a park. Their vision and goal is to get cities to spend resources to improve and build parks in their cities so that everyone can walk to a park in 10 minutes. We have partnered with The Trust for Public Land to save the last remaining open space at Bolsa Chica called the Ridge and Goodell properties.
’11 scientific reasons you should be spending more time outside’ Business Insider’ https://www.businessinsider.com/scientific-benefits-of-nature-outdoors-2016-4
‘It’s official — spending time outside is good for you’ Science Daily https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180706102842.htm
‘Health Benefits of Nature‘ American Society of Landscape Architects (great source of even more resources and research organized into adults and children sections) https://www.asla.org/healthbenefitsofnature.aspx
‘Why Kids Need to Spend Time in Nature’ Child Mind Institute https://childmind.org/article/why-kids-need-to-spend-time-in-nature/
‘Ideas for Getting Your Kids into Nature’ Child Mind Institute https://childmind.org/article/ideas-for-getting-your-kids-into-nature/
Green Cities: Good Health from University of Washington and USDA Forest Service (great source of even more resources and research organized by research themes) http://depts.washington.edu/hhwb/
‘Improving Health and Wellness through Access to Nature’ American Public Health Association https://www.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy-database/2014/07/08/09/18/improving-health-and-wellness-through-access-to-nature
‘Physical Activity Basics’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/index.htm; https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/pdf/Physical_Activity_Guidelines_2nd_edition.pdf#page=55
#10minwalk The Trust for Public Land https://www.tpl.org/10minutewalk
Our purpose is to launch, inspire, and encourage EVERYONE to think beyond the 5 R’s (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle) and create a sustainable network of Environmental Heroes.
We have broken the exponential concept of “Share the Love” Environmental Action into 3 main steps below.
We have then broken it down further into 3 categories from an individual level to a global level:
A. Individual Actions
B. Family and Friends
C. Community and Beyond
*Come back often for even more tips and suggestions as this web page is updated frequently!*
Stay informed, engaged, and take action!
Write letters, emails, leave voice messages, vote, and spread the word (about issues, meetings, legislation, fundraising events and efforts, and any other activities that have an exponentially positive impact to save the environment and fight climate change). Volunteer, donate in any form, and speak up! Most environmental groups are always looking for new ways to reach people, always need help in one form or another, and appreciate hearing from concerned citizens.
A. Individual Action: Vote for upcoming legislation and local environment-friendly candidates
B. Family and Friends: Spread the word about Ridge/Goodell online (social media, blog posts, community forums, email, etc.), by sharing our newsletters and printed materials with your own community (church, school, club, neighborhood, family/friends, etc.)
Be conscious about your impact on the planet daily
From food to energy, and everything in between, every little bit helps, but don’t beat yourself up if you forget once in a while. We’re all human and life happens. Help others remember and become aware in an encouraging and supportive way too! After all, getting your family, friends, and community involved has the biggest positive effect on positive change. Start in your own home then get your extended family, friends, neighbors, church groups, clubs, schools to start themselves (create programs, community goals, etc.).
A. Individual Actions: Different areas in your daily life: home, office, vacation, yard, water, electricity/energy, transportation, carbon footprint, food use/waste/source etc.
B. Family and Friends: Create a friendly competition or reward system between groups/neighbors/clubs, family units, etc.
C. Community and Beyond: Bring a friend, group, family, etc. to an organized event (like our Bolsa Chica Stewards volunteer days!), volunteer to help at events or become regular volunteers at clean ups, restoration, education booths etc.
Invest for the future
Invest resources, time, money, almost anything will do. This is going beyond just taking action on a current issue, but investing in long-term conservation, innovation, ‘eco’ technology, and even the next generation.
A. Individual Actions: Planned giving (Learn more about the Bolsa Chica Land Trust Planned Giving)
B. Family and Friends: Invest to improve your own and your family’s property, and help your friends improve their properties, for long-term energy, water use, solar panels, water and local wildlife friendly yards, rain catches, electric cars, etc.
C. Community and Beyond: Invest in businesses, projects, infrastructure to improve community carbon footprint, make it easier and safer for people to improve personal impacts- city friendly bike paths, public transit, green spaces, community gardens etc.