Earth Day 2012: Buying used- their trash, your treasure

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

This tip is part of San Diego Coastkeeper’s Earth Day blog series running through April 22, 2012.

We’ve all done it, and so it’s so hard NOT to do – cruise by a second-hand store or antique shop and think, “Wow, I could really use that” or “That would look awesome on my front porch” and perhaps even “That would make an awesome Halloween costume” and my favorite “I could use a new book to read.”  Buying used goods, whether for your home or costume attire, is the ultimate sustainable act (in my opinion).

It’s true, the act of buying used stuff requires a bit of creativity and willingness to dig through mounds of goods at second-hand retailers, but it’s very satifying when you find that awesome dresser you’ve been searching for followed by the purchase of a can of paint, some new knobs and voilà, you have the most unique piece of furniture on your block.

Thankfully San Diego has no shortage of these stores. There even exists an entire website dedicated to second-hand shopping.  So the next time you move, re-organize, or perhaps need a professional ensemble for that dream job you’re about to interview for, check out your local second-hand store.  Not only will you find some unexpected treasures, but more importantly you will NOT add to this excessive surplus of single-use packaging most commonly associated with purchasing new goods large and small.

Earth Day 2012: Rip Out Your Front Yard

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

dsc00328-sThis tip is part of San Diego Coastkeeper’s Earth Day blog series running through April 22, 2012.

I can count on one hand how many times I have seen folks utilizing the grass lawn in their front yard. Backyards I kinda understand, you can let the dog run around, give a spot for your children to play, and wiggle your toes while you BBQ. But front yards? When is the last time you used the grass on your front yard?

The concept of grassy lawns dates back to 1500s England where it rains every month, no irrigation necessary. That model does not make sense in San Diego when we have to import our water. Why pump in water from long distance and at great cost, in both money and energy, to water a lawn that you don’t use? Especially when San Diego is home to many very beautiful plants that evolved to thrive in our dry climate.

Take a walk around Torrey Pines or our many canyons to see how nice these native plants look. You can have that in your front yard. Let’s blur the lines between “nature” and “urban” and make our city look how it is supposed to. You would save water and be the envy of your neighborhood.

To start you out, here is a list of easy-to-grow native plants.

Earth Day 2012: T.P.-Everyone Uses It

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

This tip is part of San Diego Coastkeeper’s Earth Day blog series running through April 22, 2012.

It’s a battle. Every day I watch people guzzle out of single-use plastic water bottles, throw cigarette butts out their car window, fail to pick up after their dogs and nonchalantly opt for plastic bags at check-out at the grocery store.
Things are getting better. We recycle. We bring our reusable bags to the store more often. We use Brita filters and “bottling our own” (a favorite Coastkeeper saying).  And these “green victories” are incredibly rewarding.
My most recent “green victory” has to do with toilet paper. It’s ok, you can laugh. I mentioned to someone that I used post-consumer recycled toilet paper – and no, that doesn’t mean that it’s made from previously used toilet paper. Come on, people, think about all the other paper products we use and recycle.
This article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/26/toilet-roll-america) claims that 98% of American toilet paper is made from virgin forests. In other words, only 2% of toilet paper in this country contains recycled paper. But this study (http://www.nrdc.org/land/forests/gtissue.asp) from Natural Resources Defense Council claims that “If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.”
In those terms, it’s a pretty simple decision to make. Switch to just one roll of toilet paper with recycled content and save hundreds of thousands of trees. Imagine if you switched every roll! The Seventh Generation brand (Grist’s top pick (http://grist.org/living/the-wipe-stuff/)) is available at most grocery stores. You can find a comprehensive list of recycled brands and how they measure up to each other here (http://www.nrdc.org/land/forests/tissueguide/ratings.aspx?paper=toilet+paper).
Back to the victory: the next week I went to that someone’s house  and, to my surprise and delight, found the bathroom well-stocked with post-consumer recycled toilet paper. Looks like my message had hit home, and now one more person is doing their part to save some trees.
But why stop at toilet paper?! There are all kinds of paper products that are made with recycled content. Take a look at your options the next time you go to the grocery store. Switching paper products is a small, simple step toward sustainability.
 

It’s a battle. Every day I watch people guzzle out of single-use plastic water bottles, throw cigarette butts out their car window, fail to pick up after their dogs and nonchalantly opt for plastic bags at check-out at the grocery store.Things are getting better. We recycle. We bring our reusable bags to the store more often. We use water filters and “bottling our own” (a favorite Coastkeeper saying).  And these “green victories” are incredibly rewarding. 

 
My most recent “green victory” has to do with toilet paper. It’s ok, you can laugh. I mentioned to someone that I use post-consumer recycled toilet paper – and no, that doesn’t mean that it’s made from previously used toilet paper. Come on, people, think about all the other paper products we use and recycle.

This article claims that 98% of American toilet paper is made from virgin forests. In other words, only 2% of toilet paper in this country contains recycled paper. But this study from Natural Resources Defense Council claims that “If every household in the United States replaced just one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper (500 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees.”

In those terms, it’s a pretty simple decision to make. Switch just one roll of toilet paper to the recycled stuff and save hundreds of thousands of trees. And imagine if people switched out more than just one roll.

Back to the victory: the next week I went to that someone’s house and, to my surprise and delight, found the bathroom well-stocked with post-consumer recycled toilet paper. Looks like my message hit home, and now one more person is doing their part to save some trees. The Seventh Generation brand (Grist’s top pick) is available at most grocery stores. You can find a comprehensive list of recycled brands and how they measure up to each other here.

But why stop at toilet paper?! There are all kinds of paper products that are made with recycled content. Take a look at your options the next time you go to the grocery store. Switching paper products is a small, simple step toward sustainability.

 

 

Earth Day 2012: Join a CSA

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper
 

This tip is part of San Diego Coastkeeper’s Earth Day blog series running through April 22, 2012.

A CSA is an acronym for “community supported agriculture.” What this means to me is that I buy my vegetables from my neighbors. And while I support local business, I also get organic vegetables that are better for me and my family. And I’m getting what’s grown in season in San Diego, which guarantees I’ll get a variety of veggies to spruce up my dinner plate.

The great thing about CSAs is that you can find them all over the county with different types of delivery or pick up options. They come in full boxes, half boxes and every-other-week boxes, which means you can find a size and delivery date/time that works with your schedule. You can even split a box with your neighbor–see more neighborly bonding.

Ourt staff recently signed up to be an office drop off for Suzie’s Farm. Now, the farm drops off vegetable boxes right to our office.

One thing that I have found fun with my CSA is to “google” two of the vegetables and search for new recipes. If I do this once a week, I easily use all of the vegetables in my CSA, and I’ve opened my dietary world to a whole new wonder of delicious dishes. And it’s fun.

Want to start today? Visit this online list of San Diego CSAs.

 

Walk the Watershed at Otay Valley Regional Park

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Pulling-iceplant.jpgOn Saturday, more than 200 community members descended upon Otay Valley Regional Park for San Diego Coastkeeper’s 5th annual Walk the Watershed event.  What is a watershed you ask?  A watershed is the ecosystem in which we all live including the wildlife, surface waters, water, water quality, and of course, our neighborhoods.

Participants had the opportunity to learn about San Diego’s watersheds at the education stations along the education tour through Otay Valley Regional Park, culminating in ice-plant removal as the restoration project.

It was definitely a joint effort to make Walk the Watershed a success.  Partner organizations included the Unified Port of San Diego, Metropolitan Water District, WiLDCOAST, Elementary Institute of Science, Otay Valley Regional Park and park rangers, City of San Diego, County of San Diego, City of Chula Vista, Allied Waste, The Girl Scouts of San Diego County, REI, and I Love a Clean San Diego, and of course the group of rock star volunteers.And what event is complete without tamales, a dance performance, and a few words from San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox and Council Member David Alvarez?  The best part is, it was free to the public!  Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning learning about your environment, meeting organizations in the community that care about preserving and protecting your environment, and breathing in the fresh air.Ranger-with-kids-and-logo._jpgGirl-scouts-learn-in-the-field.jpeg

Ocean Day Highlights Need for Leadership in Sacramento

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

oceansdaySan Diego Coastkeeper recently led the charge at the fifth annual Ocean Day held at the California State capitol building in Sacramento. The mission of Ocean Day is to “convey a unified message from the ocean and coastal community that educates and inspires decision makers to work toward effective solutions aimed at protecting and restoring California’s iconic ocean and coastline.” San Diego Coastkeeper served on the event’s steering (planning) committee, which was led by Environment California.

Throughout the day, advocates held meetings with members of the California State Senate and Assembly, and their staff, to discuss current ocean issues and urge the members’ direct action on upcoming bills. We discussed upcoming legislation which threatens to weaken the Coastal Act and streamline desaliniation permitting, as well as positive legislation supporting adaptation to climate change, riding our beaches of plastic foam, and listing of the leatherback sea turtle as California’s official marine reptile. The delegation from San Diego was comprised of representatives of San Diego Coastkeeper and the San Diego Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, as well as Master’s and Ph.D. students from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The welcoming ceremony for participants featured ocean champion Assemblywoman Julia Brownley. The ceremony was followed by an educational event on the capitol lawn highlighting the value of our oceans to both California’s economy and lifestyle. Various organizations, from aquariums to surf companies and research institutes to activist groups, were represented. The California State University Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology (COAST) hosted a luncheon featuring presentations about Tracking Contaminates of Emerging Concern in California. To close the day, the Monterey Bay Aquarium hosted a reception featuring sustainable seafood at the Sutter Club to celebrate California’s ocean and coast as well as to honor those who have helped to advance ocean health in our state. Governor Jerry Brown and other dignitaries spoke about the importance of protecting the future of our oceans, and colleagues from like-minded organizations who often work remotely were able to meet in person to discuss challenges and successes in the ocean conservation field.

Published in Marine Conservation

How to Get More Bang for Your Buck

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Moneytree4So you want to help protect and restore our environment, but you’re not sure which organization to donate to? New research shows that your dollars go farther at small, local grassroots organizations than they do at large national environmental groups. The report, by the National Committee for Responsible Philanthropy observes that the national environmental groups have seen relatively little success trying to achieve change from the top-town. The author concludes that true change will be achieved by local, grassroots organizations that are directly impacted by environmental harms because those people “have the passion and perseverance to mobilize and demand change.”

The staff here at San Diego Coastkeeper has the passion and perseverance to find ways to solve our local pollution problems. Here are a few ways that we have protected our environment over the past several months:

  • Our water quality monitoring volunteers discovered sewage pooled in Los Penasquitos Lagoon after the September 2011 power outage. Our staff reported the problem to the authorities, who then had the sewage pumped out of the lagoon. Plus, the City just recommended installing backup generators at the site to prevent a power-outage spill from happening there again.
  • We worked with community members and the local press to draw attention to contaminated soil and auto shredder waste being stored at Pacific Steel, Inc. in National City (watch the TV coverage here). The company has finally started removing the waste more than 7 years after a court ordered them to clean it up.
  • After spotting water pollution issues at the San Salvador site at Spanish Landing, we worked with officials from the Port Tenants’ Association and the Maritime Museum to address the problems. Just weeks later, the construction site boasted numerous innovative solutions to prevent sawdust and other construction materials from entering San Diego Bay.

Like the work we’re doing? Donate now and help us to continue to protect and restore our waters.

Inaugural Half Marathon Sweeps the City

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

There’s a first time for everything!

The inaugural San Diego Half Marathon was Sunday, March 11.

It was a beautiful, overcast morning (great for a run), when 5,000 runners from San Diego – and across the country – came to participate in this epic 13.1-mile run that toured downtown San Diego.  The race started at Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres play, and traversed through historic downtown, starting in the Gaslamp District, then on to NTC Park at Liberty Station, up Washington street, through Hillcrest, alongside Balboa Park, and then to the epic finish inside Petco Park, where many cheering friends and family were reeling in their runners.

Registration fees for the race went towards community service projects in San Diego.

Racers also raised money for additional charities that are important to them, such as the Make a Wish Foundation of San Diego, The National Foundation for Autism Research, Huntington’s disease Society of America, and San Diego Police Officers Association for Widows and Orphans Fund.  After the run, participants could hang out around downtown, and relax in Petco Park, listening to the band Lifehouse.

If you’ve wanted to donate to San Diego Coastkeeper, and haven’t been able to find the cash. Consider signing up for a running event like this one and set a fundraising goal. Your friends and family are sure to support your running endevors, and it will help you support clean water in San Diego.

I highly recommend you check out this race next year!  Or, you can even check out active.com for more 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, or even full marathons in the San Diego area throughout this spring and summer. The earlier you race, the sooner you can help Coastkeeper!

And if you’ve never raced before, just remember, there is a first time for everything (The San Diego Half Marathon was my first half marathon)!  Get out there and run!

SWELL is picking up in San Diego Unified

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

Project SWELL (Stewardship: Water Education for Lifelong Leadership) is getting a lot of attention from San Diego Unified School District elementary teachers after last week’s professional development workshops. Targeting K, 1st, and 6th grade teachers, the workshops were well attended with 47 teachers learning the curriculum, many for the first time. If all these teachers implement SWELL, then about 1,400 more elementary students will learn about local water issues in their classrooms this year.

In a post-workshop survey, all teachers rated the workshop as very well-organized and would recommend the workshop to other teachers. Perhaps it had something to do with the sandwiches and cookies provided after a long day of teaching, thanks to generous donors to Project SWELL through Coastkeeper. Or the gift packs and reusable water bottles from Project SWELL partners City of San Diego Think Blue. More likely, it has to do with the thoughtfulness and care put into the creation of the curriculum. Project SWELL was created for teachers by teachers, and it’s easy for teachers to squeeze in the hands-on lessons as part of their regular science curriculum.

The trainings are a great way to share news and new developments with the SWELL program, especially recent updates to the SWELL website and a tutorial of how to access the supplemental curriculum materials (maps, pictures, and graphics) as part of a password protected section of that site. SWELL is adapting quickly to be applicable in the 21st century classroom with smartboards, notebooks, and ipads!

Coastkeeper loves interacting with the teachers who make water education a priority in their classrooms. We took a few videos of the teachers after the workshops to learn more about their motivation and desire to teach Project SWELL lessons. Enjoy!

How can San Diego Coastkeeper help your future?

Written by San Diego Coastkeeper

donate-water-quality-labHere at San Diego Coastkeeper, volunteer opportunities go a long way.  It is no secret that San Diego Coastkeeper depends on our super star volunteers to help us achieve the organization’s goals and protect water quality in San Diego, but what can these opportunities do for YOU?

Our 2011 volunteer of the year Taya Lazootin was recently accepted into two prestigious graduate school programs, the first being the Rosentiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science in Miami Florida and the second is the Geography Department at San Diego State University.  Choosing a path a bit closer to home, Taya will pursue a Master’s degree in Geography where she will study coral reef management while researching marine protected areas for Indo-Pacific reefs near developing island communities.  Sounds AMAZING, right?  This program is currently ranked number 7 in the country and leads to a joint PhD program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  Clearly, Taya is a rockstar!

You might be wondering, ‘How do I that?’ and you will be happy to know, San Diego Coastkeeper can help.  Taya is not the first volunteer from our Water Quality Monitoring program and lab who went on to graduate school with relevant work experience under her wing.  Lab intern Melissa Ta is writing her thesis using the research she did in our Water Quality Monitoring for her graduate school program at San Diego State University’s School of Public Health.  She has a pretty cool blog of her own, too.  Needless to say, our volunteers are intelligent, driven folks who followed their love of the environment straight to us, and San Diego Coastkeeper is proud to say we helped them achieve their goals.

Whether it is in the lab, office, legal clinic, marine conservation or public relations and social media realm that you are interested in gaining more experience, San Diego Coastkeeper can help.  As much as we love our volunteers and the work they do, we are equally as interested in helping them in their pursuits, whether they be academic or personal enrichment.  If you are interested in learning more about opportunities to help your future while protecting San Diego’s water resources, let us know by emailing volunteer@sdcoastkeeper for more information.