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Tip of the Month posts
The average American uses about 500 disposable paper cups a year per the US EPA (Sept. 2020 numbers). Most coffee and tea cups do not get recycled and either land in the landfill or the oceans (help stop that by volunteering on Coastal Clean Up Day!).
What can you do: BYO[cup, bottle, bag, straw, etc.]! No seriously, it’s that easy. Yeah, it takes a little forethought and planning, but it easily become a habit that you don’t even think about anymore. Most coffee shops will gladly use your resuable mug and maybe even give you a discount. Or make your own coffee or tea at home. The left over coffee grains and tea leaves are great for compost bins too.
PS. Visit the US EPA article for 10 Ways to Unpackage Your Life for 9 other ways to eliminate disposable plastic.
Sometimes, we as individuals feel powerless. There are so many problems that plague the environment that are bigger than just you or me. What can little old me do to help solve these massive problems?
What can you do: Remember, every little bit helps. You may not solve plastic pollution on your own, but you may save that sea turtle from that plastic bag. Right now, Bolsa Chica is facing daily human caused damage. One thing you can do right now is act on our Call to Action and email CDFW Director Bonham. In this situation, numbers matter- together, we can send a message for each one of the lost Elegant Tern eggs.
The Western Monarch Butterfly population is rapidly declining and is now a flagship species for insect habitat conservation. The rallying call to plant milkweed, the sole source of food for caterpillars, is sadly not the silver bullet to save the species. Planting Tropical Milkweed, the most commonly found milkweed in big box store garden centers, is causing more harm then good.
What can you do: There is hope though! The word is starting to get out that planting NATIVE milkweed is still very beneficial for helping this species. There is even a program at Roger’s Garden where they will exchange your tropical milkweed for a native milkweed (Narrow-leaf Milkweed)*. There is also a citizen science project at Monarch Milkweed Mapper that would help scientists track and map Monarch Butterflies and their hosts plants. Learn more about the Western Monarch Butterfly at the Xerces Society.
*Contact Roger’s Garden for more details, while supplies last
Tip of the Month posts (2020)
It’s the gift-giving season! One way to make it feel more like the holidays is to wrap up presents and make them all festive. Unfortunately, lots of wrapping paper and all the bows, ribbon, and tinsel can’t be recycled. Either they are made with plastic or are mixed with plastic or foil. Also, did you know, that some wrapping paper dye makes it unrecyclable?!
An estimated 30 million trees are cut down each year to make wrapping paper (Earth911 estimates 4.6 million pounds) and 2.3 million pounds end up in landfills.*>
What can you do: repurpose old paper (newspaper, brown paper grocery bags, or even the paper inserts from packaging) to wrap up gifts. If you want to take it to the next level, stamp your own festive designs on the inside of the brown paper bags. Another option is to reuse fabric. You can use twine or cotton rope to tie around the presents then garnish with pine, rosemary, or other dried plant twigs for that festive factor. Bows don’t have to be made from ribbon, instead, you can origami bows and all sorts of other fun things (cranes are a symbol of good fortune and longevity). An even easier method is just to toss your presents into baskets or reusable bags, or, gasp, don’t wrap it at all.
Tree decorations can be strung with popcorn (many an hour of stringing popcorn in my childhood), cranberries, dried oranges or apples, or snowflakes made from yarn and craft sticks. Oh, and of course, good old standard pine cones. The food items can be used outside for the birds after the holidays. Please avoid tinsel and fake snow.
Trees themselves are tricky. The ‘most environmentally friendly’ option for a tree is locally grown and then turned into mulch afterward. That’s not always possible. Or you can be allergic to pine. Therefore, you will have to do your own research and decide what’s best for your family.
*BarrelBag sourced numbers
Late Autumn is the best time to plant in Southern California because of the cooler weather and beginning of the rainy season. With the recent fires still smoking on the hillsides, it’s even more reason to plant fire-resistant native plants. The non-native grasses and annuals (the pretty yellow flowers called mustard) create thick, dry thatch which is ideal kindling for fires.
What can you do: Plant native CA plants! They are fire-resistant, drought friendly, and if planted in a mosaic of species, can bloom year round. Oh, and the pollinators like bees and hummingbirds love ’em. Even native perennial grasses and annual wildflowers are much better then water thirsty plants if maintained properly.
Where to get native plants:
Tree of LIfe Nursery in San Juan Capistrano
Rogers Garden in Corona Del Mar has some native species
CA Botanic Garden (previously the Santa Ana Botanic Garden) in Claremont
Los Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita
Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley
Larner Seeds for native plant seeds online
Local CA Native Plant society
Environmental Nature Center
Refuse Tip: Refuse disposable face masks. Sadly, they are now one of the more common forms of trash found polluting our watershed. Make or buy a cloth mask that you can wash (preferably from cotton).
Reduce Tip: Reduce the number of plastic containers thrown away from keeping your hands and home clean. For example, use a nice bar of soap instead of a small bottle of liquid soap that gets used once. Or, buy the liquid soap in bulk and refill the same bottle over and over. Refill those hand sanitizer bottles you carry around in your bag or car instead of buying a bunch of new travel-sized containers when you run out of sanitizer solution. Buy concentrated cleaning solution so you can dilute and refill spray bottles yourself (and it lasts a lot longer too).
Reuse and Repurpose Tip: Staying at home has created a lot more ‘trash’ from cardboard boxes to plastic bags and containers. It doesn’t have to go straight into the trashcan though. Get creative and probably save money too! Some ideas to get you started: Reuse or repurpose cardboard boxes from online ordering (kids and pets love ’em). Try to get all deliveries in the same box (Amazon has that option). Reuse all those plastic bags to fill trash cans, pick up pet waste, or cut up for crafts. Halloween is coming, how about creating a costume from cardboard boxes and plastic bags? For the garden, repurpose clamshell containers, take-out containers with lids, and reuse old plastic trays/pots for growing seeds to start your veggies or flowers.
Recycle Tip: Staying at home means seeing your cluttered closet constantly. If you are like many of us, that was one of the first places we decluttered. Did you know you can recycle clothes that aren’t in good enough condition to donate? Use this Recycling Locator to find a local place that takes clothes to recycle!
Bonus “R”: Rot: Compost or vermiculture (worm compost) leftover food scraps and yard waste (not pet waste or animal products). You can even do it inside with worms or aerobic composting. If it is balanced and done right, there is no smell and doesn’t attract bad pests.
Energy conservation is even more important during heatwaves. If the power grid is overloaded with energy demands, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) has no choice but to implement Stage 3 emergencies (rotating outages) to try to prevent long and widespread power outages.
What can you do: there are many different ways to conserve your energy consumption during heatwaves (and in general).
- Set AC to 78°F or higher
- close blinds or curtains in areas you don’t need light to keep the room cooler
- limit how often you open the refrigerator (those take a lot of electricity)
- turn off lights and other appliances or equipment you don’t need on
- use a fan instead of the AC when practical
- only run energy-guzzling machines like dishwashers and washing machines in the early morning or late evening (after 10pm)
- don’t use humidifiers or evaporation coolers at the same time as the AC
- hang dry your clothes
- don’t keep windows or doors open if you are running AC
longer term investments:
- solar panels on your roof
- mini-split AC units which allow you to select AC by room instead of having to cool or heat the entire house
- purchase Energystar appliances
- replace CFL light bulbs with LED light bulbs
Microplastics. Probably something that you don’t really ever think about like most of us. But microplastics are literally raining down on us and polluting our ‘pristine’ National Parks*. Ugg.
What can you do to limit your microplastic pollution? One type of microplastics that is quite prevalent are microfibers from clothes. It’s unrealistic to stop washing your polyester fleece jackets and blankets indefinitely, but you can wash them less and air dry them, use cool water instead of hot, and consider using a microfiber filter system (like Lint LUV-R) which prevents microfibers from leaving your washing machine in your wastewater.
Microfibers come from synthetic clothes like nylon and polyester. These fibers are too small for waste treatment facilities to filter out so they go straight into our waterways into the water cycle (including the atmosphere). A single wash can release more than 700,000 microfibers!
The first thing you can do is not buy clothes made from these materials and opt instead for natural materials like cotton, linen, wool, and hemp (yeah, easier said than done).
Secondly, while washing your clothes:
- Use a front-loaded washing machine (sheds 7x fewer fibers)
- Wash less frequently
- Fill your washing machine to the max
- Use a liquid laundry soap
- Use laundry soap sparingly so the washing time is shorter
- Wash in cold water
- Air dry clothes or dry on a slow spin cycle
- Get a wash bag that captures microfibers like Guppy Friend
- Buy a microfiber filter like Lint LUV-R, Filtrol 160, PlanetCare, or laundry ball like Cora Ball
Finally, watch “The Story of Microfibers” video by The Story of Stuff, educate your family and friends, and actively speak up to clothing designers letting them know you want more options with non-synthetic materials.
- Surfrider Bills and Best Practices for Microfiber Pollution Solutions
- OceanCleanWash Solutions
- NEEF What You Should Know About Microfiber Pollution
We can only make changes when we stand up, look around ourselves, and decide to make changes. Now is a time to do just that – to make a change to begin to end the societal and systematic racism around us. It begins with examining ourselves, then looking outward and being strong and willing to help create needed changes for justice and equality in our communities, in our country, and around the world.
What can you do:
- Be aware every day of the need for changes
- Ask questions
- Advocate for those changes by participating at the local, state, and national levels
- Learn more about the problems by attending lectures, classes, meetings, or simply talking with others, especially those affected by racism
- Volunteer with organizations working to help those affected and to make changes to policies
- If you can’t volunteer, donate
- Invest in business owned and run by people of Color by regularly buying from and patronizing them
- Allow People of color to lead, trusting they know best what and how things need to be changed
- Vote! Get informed and vote at all levels of government – local, state, federal. Your local government makes the most impact in your immediate community.
Change only happens when we work for it. When more of us work together for changes that make our world a kinder, friendlier, more inclusive, safer, and truly equal place, then those changes will happen.
Have you ever been not sure if something could be recycled, but thrown it in your recycle bin hoping for the best? Or thrown that pizza box with just a little grease and stuck on cheese into the recycling, its cardboard, right? Or left the last bit a milk in the container, thinking, that wont hurt anything? If you have – then you are a wish-cycler.
Wish-cycling is when someone throws non-recyclable materials into the recycling with the hope that it is recyclable. If not, well, won’t someone at the recycling plant take care of it?
Wish-cycling is a big problem for waste management providers, actually creates more waste, and hurts the recycling industry. Contaminated batches of recycling often end up in the landfill as it becomes too expensive to separate out what they can not recycle. Some non-recyclable items can jam or break machinery. Again, leading to delays and repairs that make recycling costly. This means we are doing the opposite of our good intentions.
What can you do? Recycling is processed at a local Materials Recovery Facility or MRF, pronounced murf. Every murf has different capabilities, meaning every community has different list of what can be recycled. It only takes a a few minutes to look up what your community recycles. And remember – If in doubt, throw it out!
If you live here in Huntington Beach, click here.
April 22 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. What are you doing this year?
Without the big beach clean-ups and organized gatherings, we need to look around our houses and communities to find the little things we can do to help our earth.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Are you recycling everything you can? Can you reuse or re-purpose something you were planning to throw away? Can you use a washcloth instead of a paper towel for cleaning?
- Can you fix the dripping faucet or take shorter showers or adjust your outside sprinklers to save water?
- Did you do too much panic buying of food? (its ok, most of us did) What can you do to use it before throwing it away? Food waste is rampant in the US and a big contributor to climate change. (read more)
- You have some extra time, how about starting a garden to grow some of your own food? Or plant some natives in your garden? (see last month’s Take Action Tip) Plant nurseries are considered essential businesses, and many are offering delivery or curbside pick-up. Look up one close to you and get going. (Bonus – Supporting local business is also good for the community and the environment.)
- You don’t need an organized activity to pick up trash. Head out for a walk with some gloves on, or one of those handy grabber-things, and an old bag you can re-purpose – not only do you get outside in the sunshine, you get some exercise and help the environment. Nothing like a win-win-win situation.
- Support the Bolsa Chica Land Trust!
The ideas are endless and little things really can make a difference. Happy Earth Day!
With spring arriving, gardening season is in full swing. Why not consider using more native plants in your garden designs. Native plants come with many benefits – they are drought tolerant, often require little to no maintenance, offer lots of color and variety, and attract native birds, bees, and butterflies. Native plants also offer better shelter and forage for native animals and insects, which is important for protecting the biodiversity of our world.
For our California neighbors, a garden filled with native sage scrub plants will smell wonderful in the summer heat.
Need some inspiration? Many places have a native plant society that will help you do some research and get started. Here is a list from the North American Native Plant Society.
Here in orange County, CA you can visit the same nursery that helps us with our plants. Visit Tree of Life Nursery’s site californianativeplants.com – or, even better, take a trip to visit them in San Juan Capistrano.
We also recommend these books: California Native Plants for the Garden – Carol Bornstein
The California Native Landscape: The Homeowner’s Design Guide to Restoring Its Beauty and Balance – Greg Rubin & Lucy Warren
Planting native takes just a little more thought, but the rewards of contributing to biodiversity, saving water, and looking beautiful will last a lifetime. Enjoy!
It’s a Leap Year with Feb. 29th, so let’s take advantage of the extra 24 hours and do something you’ve been wanting to do ‘if only you had more time.’ Because we are an environmental organization with a focus on, well, the environment, we suggest doing something related to helping Mother Nature and yourself at the same time.
What you can do:
- Take a stroll in nature (any open space or park will do),
- Read that book on native gardening or watch a documentary on ways to be more environmentally conscious,
- Plant some native plants in your garden,
- Go vegetarian or eat local for a day (or month or year),
- Sip on some shade-grown forest friendly coffee,
- Start that green project or activity to get your family, friends, or community more involved (activism, volunteering, the sky’s the limit)
- [Fill in with your own ways to help the environment and yourself at the same time!]
We all love celebrations and parties, but sometimes these fun events can have negative consequences to our local wild lands. One activity in particular always has a negative impact on wildlife, and that’s the release of balloons. The old saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ unfortunately rings all too true.
What you can do: Don’t release balloons, period. Released balloons travel many miles carried on wind currents to land somewhere it shouldn’t (basically anywhere). Animals eat the balloons or get tangled in the attached string. This always leads to long suffering, and sadly, often death. So next time you want to celebrate an anniversary, graduation, birthdays, etc., please think of the wildlife that will end up suffering for your 2 seconds of cheer.
Tip of the Month posts (2019)
Dead of summer, no rain in sight (Aug.-Sept.). Fall has started, but still no rain in sight (Oct.-Nov.). Rain, finally, but will it be enough? Add the effects of Climate Change, extended and more intense droughts are also in our future here in Southern California. The next few months we are going to focus on how we individually and collectively can conserve and wisely use water everyday.
What you can do:
August “Laundry room water conservation”: Wash full loads laundry! Use cold tap water to save the electricity or gas to heat the water, as well as help get stains out. If possible use the waste water, also known as gray water, to water your yard. Hang dry your laundry. Wear your cloths more than once, like jeans and synthetic fabrics (fleece etc.), especially if they are not really that dirty. That will prevent even more plastic microfibers from getting into the watershed. Buy a microfiber catching filter to run with your laundry to try to catch the plastic microfibers before they get out in wastewater. Try to not let your laundry sit in the washing machine too long or you might have to rewash due to the musty smell it gets. Be selective with which cloths go to a dry cleaners.
September “Bathroom water conservation”: Turn off the tap water when you are brushing your teeth, collect the cold shower water that comes out while you are waiting for the warm water to water your plants, take shorter showers, and replace the shower head and faucet heads with water saving fixtures. Put a few bricks in your toilet backend to decrease the amount of water to fill the toilet, convert your shower and tub waste water, also called gray water, into a gray water system to use as irrigation water for your yard (following your city code). Don’t flush the toilet if you only pee (ok, not for everyone) and remember with the handy rhyme “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down”. Use dry shampoo and only shower a few times a week instead of every day.
October “Kitchen water conservation”: Wash full loads of dishes in the dishwasher, and try not to wash the dishes before you put it in the dishwasher (ie, only scrap off excess food, and let the dishwasher do its job). If you hand wash your dishes, fill the sink with soapy water instead of keeping the water running as you wash each dish. You can even reuse the ‘gray water’ from dishes on your plants outside. Use leftover drinking water you have in cups (especially if your kids are the type to leave half-filled water glasses EVERYWHERE) to water your indoor plants or potted outdoor plants. Get a water filter, such as a Brita, to filter your water from the tap instead of buying bottled water to drink.
November “Landscape, patio, front porch water conservation”: Good, go lawn-less! Better, go drought-tolerate, xeriscape! Best, go CA native plants! We are big advocates of native CA plants, preferably similar to your local habitats, to create not only beautiful drought tolerant, mostly low maintenance landscaping, but also wildlife sanctuaries for birds, pollinators, lizards, etc. In Orange County, we don’t have very much natural habitats left, so every little bit, even your front porch container plants, can help your local wildlife. One of the best parts is that, once established, your native CA garden does not need regular watering (it might actually harm the plants if you water too much)! When you do water container plants or your veggies/fruit trees if you have them, use recycled water or gray water from the kitchen or bathroom (see previous months’ tips on gray water/recycling). This is such an important issue, that CA native gardens will be its own separate Take Action Tip with even more tips, suggestions, and ideas to make your garden its own wildlife conservation sanctuary.
December “Travel/vacation and holidays water conservation”: What a great time to be an example and educate family, friends, co-workers, and the general community! Use recycled reusable water bottles, brag about how much money you save by removing lawns and cashing in on rebates for water efficient appliances, or even just skip the ‘free’ water at restaurants if you know you are ordering a different type of drink or you have brought your own water bottle from home. A lot of hotels and motels will now give you the option to not have them wash every towel or bed sheet every day to conserve water. The same tactics you use at home, like turning off the faucet while you brush your teeth, still applies when visiting relatives or staying in hotels. Remember, food waste=water waste, so get creative with leftovers whether you are taking them home (please bring your own Tupperware) or you hosted and now have lots of leftovers.
If you are hosting family: all the above applies, especially the kitchen tips and laundry tips! Defrost food in the refrigerator instead of a water bath, put a pitcher of water on the table so people only use 1 cup all day (less dishes), fill the sink to hand wash dishes, or just scrape food into compost bin/trash and run a full load in the dishwasher. If you are both boiling food and steaming food, use the steam from the boiled water to steam the food, this saves water and frees up a burner to cook something else. While rinsing veggies and fruit, do it in a bowl of water instead of running the faucet over it. You can then reuse that water elsewhere. That goes for left over drinking water, cooking water, and melted ice, to reuse on it plants- indoors and outdoors. You can also replace a meat dish for a vegetarian or vegan dish to decrease your water use footprint, because it takes more water to produce meat. Same with buying recycled paper products instead of virgin paper products. Run full loads of laundry on the cold cycle.
How this impacts Bolsa Chica:
Water is the life of a wetlands. Not just for the bays and tidal ponds, but the whole ecosystem from the high mesas to the tidal inlets that connect Bolsa Chica to inland Orange County through the Wintersburg Channel to the Pacific Ocean. The more we can do to conserve the water we have, the better the for environment as a whole. For instance, reducing run-off from irrigation will prevent a TON of pollutants like fertilizer or pet waste from entering the watershed which washes through Bolsa Chica on its way to the ocean.
A. Your own water use
B. Family and friends
see above. If you use a public laundrymat talk with fellow users about the above ways to conserve water. Educate your neighbors on how much water (and money from rebates) you save by switching to lawn-less landscaping, water efficient appliances, and be an example. If you have a habitat garden, get a sign declaring it so for passersby to stop and learn more about! Everyone likes bragging rights, so brag away about how you are conserving water and money at the same time.
This covers all the non-residential locations you frequent such as school, work, church, etc., and is going to be mostly education, asking lots of questions of management, and perhaps starting a new club, committee, or other support system to help make real changes. Be it installing water efficient toilets or drinking fountains, or simply changing the times the landscape is watered (seriously, watering anything at high noon is a waste). Water conservation changes don’t have to be huge or happen over night, and yes, a small group of determined folks can really change the status quo!
Taking a car, plane, bus, train, or people-powered bikes and walking all have pros and cons. When you have to travel, be it for work, vacation, or family reunions, how you get there matters. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
What you can do: Generally speaking it goes: walk, bike, bus, train, car with more than one passenger, plane. BUT, factors like time, distance, type of vehicle, how many travelers, and even how many layovers all contribute to the overall realities of choosing your mode of transportation. Hands down though, walking and biking have the smallest carbon footprint, followed by public transportation designed to move lots of people like full buses and trains, if time is flexible. The next carbon efficient mode of transportation is carpooling in an electric, hybrid, or high MPG vehicle.
How this impacts Bolsa Chica: Wetlands, and even native grasslands, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, so the less carbon we admit (including our own personal carbon footprints), the better for the overall health of the habitats, generally speaking. Even though they are efficient at storing large amounts of carbon, there is a natural limit to how much carbon a healthy wetland can hold. Also, many invasive non-native plants thrive off the excess carbon in the atmosphere and make restoration of these habitats harder. At first glance, that might sound good, the non-native plants are better at sucking carbon out of the air, but most of these plants don’t store the carbon in their roots or other longer-term storage vessels. When these plants die, being annuals by nature, they can easily release all that carbon back into the air, especially when burned. These annual non-native grasses are also highly flammable which creates a safety concern for local residents. Therefore, limiting your carbon footprint helps keep the wetland at Bolsa Chica functioning, and helps our continuous battle with the non-native invasive species through our habitat restoration efforts.
Transportation has a huge environmental impact on this planet. The factors in the ‘equation’ to figure out how to get from to point A to point B boil down to time, distance, number of travelers, types of vehicles, number of stops or layovers, and personal preferences. Calculating your potential carbon footprint is for a whole separate tip, but a good rule of thumb is to think people-powered, public transportation, carpooling with the lowest carbon emission vehicles, plane, to finally driving solo for long distances.
A. Your own trips
Local, short, everyday trips: Walking and biking are not only carbon neutral, but also great for your physical well-being! If you have to be somewhere but have time constraints or it’s too far away, public buses or trains can come in handy. However, if distance, or time, or the number of destinations (think soccer practice, work, school, music lessons etc.), are unrealistic, then, yeah, motorbike or car, carpooling as much as possible. Electric, hybrid or highest MPG vehicles have the lowest carbon impact compared to trucks, SUVs, or vans. For those trips to Hawaii and beyond, island hopping by boat is generally better too than flying.
Far away, long, or vacation trips: Walking and biking are not realistic here, but once you get to your final destination, it’s a great way to see your new surroundings! Buses and trains work here if time isn’t important. As they say, it’s the journey not necessarily the destination that’s important. Ok, cliches aside, carpooling with more three or more people is still a better option if going a long distance and time is still not an important factor. But sometimes, planes are the only way to get there (cruise ships have a higher carbon footprint, especially if the point is just mode of transportation, and there are not many other commercial boats going long distances). Some airlines offer ways to buy carbon offsets (think cap and trade in the government) which is pretty cool. When flying, try to avoid too many layovers to avoid all the extra fuel needed to take off and landing.
B. Family and friends
Walking and biking, again, are probably the easiest ways to have family or friend time, exercise, and even get errands done all at the same time! Not to mention it doesn’t require a lot of money either! Otherwise, carpool, carpool, carpool on the bus, train, or car. Create incentive programs at home, work, or school to bike, walk or take public transit.
Vote for better bike baths, roads, public transportation, and walk-able city infrastructure in your local government. Urge your city planning commission to prioritize parks initiatives, like Trust for Public Lands 10min parks for everyone through their “Parks for Everyone Campaign.” Start a biking or walking club at work, church, or wider community. Nextdoor is a good social media app to connect with your local community to rally up the community members to back these proposals.
https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2015/09/evolving-climate-math-of-flying-vs-driving/ https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/climate/airplane-pollution-global-warming.html https://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/blogs/plane-train-or-automobile-which-has-the-biggest-footprint https://www.thoughtco.com/flying-driving-which-better-for-environment-1203936 https://thewaywardpost.com/stories/carbon-footprint-of-5-travel-methods
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.
References: https://exchange.aaa.com/safety/driving-advice/conserving-fuel/ https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/a6827/6-driving-tactics-to-save-gas-this-weekend/ https://www.moneycrashers.com/how-to-save-money-on-gas/
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
References: History https://storyofstuff.org/plastic-microbeads-ban-the-bead/ https://www.forbes.com/sites/carmendrahl/2016/01/09/what-you-need-to-know-about-microbeads-the-banned-bath-product-ingredients/#3441d8fa7a33 https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-aerosols-still-bad/
Resources https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080516100942.htm https://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/products-to-green-your-personal-hygiene-routine/ https://earth911.com/living-well-being/health/8-ways-to-green-your-hygiene/ https://earth911.com/living-well-being/eco-hygiene-routine/ https://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-cosmetics/ https://storyofstuff.org/story-of-cosmetics/story-of-cosmetics-faqs/ https://mindfulmomma.com/non-toxic-beauty/
Lists https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ https://www.madesafe.org/find-products/personal-care/ http://www.safecosmetics.org/ https://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/verified-brands/ https://www.bcpp.org/our-work/tips-for-prevention/personal-care-products/ https://www.goodguide.com/#/
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 https://konmari.com/pages/about
 How Decluttering Can Actually Benefit Your Health https://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1011917-decluttering-can-actually-benefit-health/?slide=1
9 Ways Your Life Will Improve When You Declutter https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-22687/9-ways-your-life-will-improve-when-you-declutter.html
6 Benefits of an Uncluttered Space, the psychology behind organizing and decluttering https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201802/6-benefits-uncluttered-space
The Economics of Tidying Up https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/05/an-economist-reads-marie-kondo/392921/
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.