ARS LONGA, VITA BREVIS

Sustainable Danville Area Tip of the Month – February 2015

By Cynthia Ruzzi, President Sustainable Danville Area

Hippocrates, the ancient Greek doctor certainly got that right!  ‘Art is long and life is short’.  Art influences how we see the world and it gives us a means to express ourselves when words cannot.  The impression a piece of art makes on the viewer can outlive the ability to recall the artists’ name.  Finding a simple drawing stored long ago can flood you with treasured memories – especially if the artist was your child. Giving recognition to a child’s artwork can build one confidence equal to scoring the winning homerun in a champion little league game.  I’m at least as proud of my trophy from a city-wide art contest in the third grade, as I am of my Best Girl Athlete medal from seventh grade.

As parents and educators we know how essential art is to teaching and encouraging our children.  Since art is such a vital part of raising healthy children, shouldn’t we consider making sure that their art is created with art supplies that are healthy for them too?

Art supplies often contain toxins and pollutants that are both harmful to a child’s health and the environment.  Many art supplies contain toxic chemicals (PBTs) that can accumulate in the environment when they are made, used or discarded.  These PBTs can also accumulate in your child and cause illnesses such as headaches, breathing problems, nausea and possibly worse.

A great way to prevent possible negative effects of art supplies is to make sure you and your child’s school purchase only sustainable, non-toxic art supplies.  Look for the Art & Creative Materials Institute (ACMI) seal of approval to make sure your art supplies are safe for the environment and your child. A guide to reading and understanding art supply labels can be found at the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition website: http://www.cehn.org/files/Art%20supplies_2_14_11(6).pdf 

With plenty of cold winter nights for indoor family activities, it’s a perfect time to consider some environmentally friendly ways to spruce up your family art projects.

°       Recycled Materials

Juniors’ masterpiece will last just as long and look just as good on 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper as it would on virgin paper.

°       Natural Ingredients

Who doesn’t love coloring?  But traditional crayons are made from a non-renewable petroleum byproduct, paraffin wax.  Look for crayons made from soy bean oil.  Not only are they non-toxic, but they’re bio-degradable too.  Looking to channel the Italian street artist within?  Organic chalk with all natural ingredients is totally safe for small children.  They can decorate away without you worrying about them putting their hands or the chalk in their mouth.  Eco-friendly colored pencils are my ‘tool of the trade’ and I use sustainably harvested wood ones like the ones found at Stubby Pencil Studio www.stubbypencilstudio.com.  Manufactured from California cedar wood and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council to have originated from environmentally well-managed forests they draw great cartoon aliens, flowers, trees and dinosaurs.

 

°          Make Your Own Supplies

You’re never too old to enjoy a day of finger painting!  It’s simple to mix up a batch on your own.  Form a smooth paste with a cup of white flour (not self-rising) and 8 tablespoons of water.  Separate small portions into muffin tins and add organic food coloring to get the color you want.  Thin to a pudding consistency with additional water and you’re ready to create a Picasso.

Fancy yourself more of a Monet?  Create watercolors by mixing 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of vinegar.  Allow the mixture to rest until the fizzling stops.   Then add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and ½ tablespoon of corn syrup.  Mix until crumbly and divide in a muffin tin.  Add about 10 drops organic food coloring to each cup.  Paint away, mixing individual colors together to create a wide palette for your masterpiece.

Our recipes wouldn’t be complete without offering one for eco-friendly play dough.  Mix 1 cup white flour (not self-rising) with ½ cup of table salt in a bowl.  Gradually add 1/3 cup water while kneading the mixture until it reaches a dough consistency.  It should not be sticky.  To tint the dough, add organic food coloring as the dough is mixed to create various shades.  Store in the refrigerator in a well-sealed container, but like all play dough – it will eventually harden.

And now you’re ready for masterpieces.  Send us a picture at www.facebook.com/sustainabledanville or email us at sustainabledanville@gmail.com

 

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today/Alamo Today News http://www.yourmonthlypaper.com/archives.html

The Four Most Important Resolutions You Can Make for 2015

By Cynthia Ruzzi, President Sustainable Danville Area

As I write this, we are in the midst of the wettest December in the Bay Area in history and the California drought has been downgraded from ‘exceptional’ to ‘severe’. Admiring the green hills that surround our homes, it’s hard to believe that all this water hasn’t replenished our resources for the year and beyond. The choice of descriptor says it all – we are still in a severe drought meaning we’re in grave, harsh, dreadful, terrible, seriously bad shape.  But the New Year is all about making resolutions, so I encourage you to make 2015 the year you value water for what it is – with only 1% drinkable water world-wide, its liquid gold.  So the number one most important resolution for 2015 – use water wisely.  Last month, we provided a list of ways to be less water wasteful inside and outside the home, but here’s one more way.

Central San is offering free recycled water for residential customers. While it’s not safe for drinking and shouldn’t run off into our storm drains, it can be used to water lawn, landscaping and gardens to save our precious drinking water. Recycled water has been used for years in our area to water parks, school ball fields and golf courses and now, like the Dublin San Ramon Services District, we can use free, recycled water to keep our gardens green.  For more information about the residential recycled water filling station, please call 800-646-1431.

It wouldn’t be a resolution list, if I didn’t include an item about health.  The second most important resolution for 2015 – eat organic, local whole food. US residents spent on average $2,273, or about 6.4 percent of their annual consumer expenditures according to the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA).  That is less than any of the 83 other countries for which the USDA tracks data.  Considering this statistic, isn’t it time to invest just a little more to protect your family’s health from harmful pesticides and questionable chemicals in the food you serve them – not to mention avoiding genetically modified food (GMOs) which have been banned in over 60 countries worldwide.  And choosing organic, local whole food, not only saves transportation dollars, protects you from pesticides, but allows you to capture maximum nutrition – since fruits and vegetables lose nutritional value as they age or are processed.

With respect to the continuing hunger problem in the US – and Contra Costa County – visit www.thebountygarden.org and learn how you can help get organic, local, whole food to those in need. The Bounty Garden is a 100% non-profit program committed to providing a source of fresh vegetables to the local Food Banks of Contra Costa and Solano Counties.  The program brings together community volunteers in a fun and friendly environment to grow for this purpose and is a great activity for the entire family.

The third most important resolution for 2015 – lose the plastic. Here’s a New Year’s challenge. Pick an average day for you and your family and see if you can get through it without touching anything made of plastic. Can you do it?  Most of us have heard about the importance of being ‘BPA-free’ (referring to the chemical identified as a disruptor to growth development in infants, children and even adults), but do we really know what other chemicals used in plastics are doing to us? Relying more on organic, local, whole food will reduce packing materials – especially if you bring your own re-usable bags, but I bet you can do more.  Look for alternatives like glass and steel for food storage and please, lose the drinking straw. Take the challenge and you’ll see there is a myriad of opportunity to replace the plastics in your life.

As we enter the fifth year of Sustainable Danville Area, our 100% non-profit invites you to participate in our activities.  In fact, please hold the date for the Town of Danville Earth Day Festival 2015 on Sunday, April 19th from 11am – 2pm.   Join us as a volunteer, you don’t have to be an environmental expert – most of us aren’t. You simply have to care about people and the planet- and maintaining an Earth that will not only sustain us today, but many generations beyond.  Learn more at www.sustainabledanville.com or visit us at www.facebook.com/sustainabledanvillearea

Oh and the fourth most import resolution for 2015 – make every choice count.

 

 

 

Tis The Season to do a Green Audit

By Loren McDonald, Sustainable Danville Area

As 2014 nears an end, many of us will use the holiday season to reflect on the past year and plan life activities for 2015. As part of these planning efforts, it is important to do an audit or self-assessment to take stock of what we did in the past year and identify where there are opportunities to improve or make changes in the coming year.

With sustainability becoming an area of concern for many people, including reducing water and energy usage and costs, consider conducting a “green” audit along with your financial and budgeting exercises. A simple review of your family’s use of water, energy, transportation and purchasing and practices including food consumption, gardening and recycling can uncover several opportunities to both reduce your impact on the planet, and put dollars back in your pocket.

The following are among several areas to include in your “green audit,” which can provide a foundation for your 2015 personal sustainability plan:

Water Bill/Usage: Start by reviewing your water bills from the past two years. The average single-family home in the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) used 135 gallons of water per person per day in 2013. How does your usage compare? Look for spikes in usage that could signal a leak in your irrigation system.

Toilets: Check the age and gallons used per flush in each of your toilets. Replacing older toilets, that typically use 3.5-5 or more gallons per flush, with new, efficient toilets that use 1.28 or 1.6 gallons per flush can save 10-25 gallons per toilet per day.

Shower Heads: How many of your shower heads are the low-flow type? Have you timed yourself and family members on the duration of showers?   What about baths? Are any family members taking baths when a shower would suffice?

 Electricity, Gas and Appliances: Review your electricity and gas bills and look for spikes during the cold winter and hot summer months. What temperature is your thermostat and water heater set at? Is it time to upgrade your old clothes washer, dryer or dishwasher? Do you have an old inefficient refrigerator in the garage where you keep beverages?

Light bulbs: Replacing older light bulbs with newer energy-efficient bulbs, such as LEDs, is one of the easiest ways to reduce your household energy usage and save money over the long term. How many of your incandescent and fluorescent bulbs make sense to replace?

Insulation/Leaks: Potential energy savings from eliminating air leaks can range from 5% to 30% according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Consider a professional home energy audit, but at minimum inspect inside and outside your home for all visible air leaks.

 Food: Do you buy from local food sources when possible, such as those at the Danville Farmer’s Market? How often are you eating beef and is it grass-fed and locally raised? Are you over buying and then throwing out foods your family doesn’t eat. Are you buying organic foods when possible?

Reuse, Recycling and Bags: Have you switched to using rechargeable batteries in household devices? Do you have a compost bin for food scraps and other organic material? Are you recycling as much as you can? Do you take plastic bags, batteries, printer cartridges and light bulbs to local recycling and collection points – or just toss stuff in the garbage? Assess what percentage of recyclable items your family is actually putting into your bin. Are you using reusable bags for groceries?

Chemicals and Fertilizers: Are you still using harmful chemicals inside and outside your home, whether to clean toilets or kill slugs and weeds? How many of your cleaning products can be replaced with commercial non-toxic products, and homemade cleaners using alternatives like vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

Outside the home, are there opportunities to replace chemical-based fertilizers with organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion and compost? What about using alternatives to pesticides including coffee grounds, vinegar and non-toxic commercial solutions.

Transportation/Autos:  Assess how often your cars must be used at the same time? How many miles is each car driven and what are your monthly fuels costs? Use this information to analyze whether you can potentially give up one car or switch to an electric or plug-in hybrid car. Make sure your audit includes opportunities to use public transportation such as BART, car sharing services and those bicycles gathering dust in your garage.

Reviewing the areas above will provide you and your family a foundation for understanding what opportunities you have to lessen your impact on the planet and save money through lower water, energy and auto fuel bills. Gather your audit findings and in January’s column, we’ll outline a process to help you prioritize and plan your personal sustainability actions for 2015.   Visit us at www.sustainabledanville.com or www.facebook.com/sustainabledanville.com

 

Winter Water Saving Tips: The Summer is Over, But Not the Drought

By Loren McDonald

As winter approaches for residents of Diablo Valley, now is not the time to lose sight that California continues to experience one of its worst droughts in recorded history.

Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in January, which included a voluntary request that citizens reduce water usage by 20%. Locally, the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) asked customers to reduce usage by 10%, and while they have met the goal, it really isn’t enough.

Hopefully, winter will bring plenty of snow and rain to Northern California, but we can’t count on it and residents must continue to reduce our use of water both inside and outside of our homes.

The average person living in a single-family home within the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), used 175 gallons per day in 2013. That’s a lot of water, but there are several ways, many costing nothing or very little, that can reduce your water usage significantly.

Get a Handle on Your Current Water Usage

The first step in saving water is to understand your current usage and where opportunities exist to cut back. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Read your water bill and compare previous years and billing periods.
  • Are your summer months off the charts? Have you reduced or increased your usage in the past year?
  • Compare winter months’ bills to summer months to get a handle on your irrigation usage.
  • Test for leaks. Place a toothpick on your water meter and then don’t use any water for 30 minutes and look to see if the needle moves. If it does, you have one or more leaks inside or outside your home. If you have separate valves for the yard and house, turn off one so you can isolate if the leaks are inside or outside and then watch again to see if the meter needle still moves.
  • Test your toilets for leaks. A kit with a blue die tablet is available from EBMUD.

Once you have a sense of your water usage and if you have any leaks, create a game plan to reduce your consumption. Tackle bad family habits first, such as taking long showers and overwatering your yard. Depending on your budget, replace inefficient appliances, showerheads and toilets.

In your yard

Thirty percent of residential water usage in the United States is devoted to outdoor uses, with the majority of this used for irrigation, according to the EPA. And half of outdoor water use is typically wasted according to the EBMUD.

To reduce your winter outdoor water usage, consider the following tips:

  • Turn off sprinklers and use your manual mode to turn them on for a day here or there during any lengthy winter dry spells.
  • Replace inefficient sprinklers with drip irrigation.
  • Upgrade a conventional irrigation controller to a smart system – either weather- or soil moisture-based.
  • Fix leaks and any broken pipes. Dig up those buried sprinklers and cap them off if not needed.
  • Replace thirsty lawns with drought-resistant trees and plants.
  • Give rain barrels a try – perhaps for a winter vegetable garden or raised bed near your rain gutters.
  • Cover your garden with mulch and put that compost you’ve been brewing to good use to improve soil condition.

Inside the Home

About half of the water used indoors is from the bathroom, according to the American Water Works Association Research Foundation. Here are a few tips to cut back water use inside your house:

  • Toilets are typically the highest user of water inside the home, from 28% to 40%, according the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Replace older toilets that might use 3 to 6 gallons per flush (GPF) with models that use 1.28 to 1.6 GPF. Don’t worry, many of these low GPF toilets flush better than your older, water guzzlers.
  • Replace older showerheads that typically flow at 2.5 gallons per minute (GPM) with a newer low-flow type that emits as low as 1.5 GPM. Many use aerating techniques to make the water flow feel just as powerful as the older, higher GPM models.
  • Capture the cold water flowing to your showerhead in a bucket or jug. Use this “warming-up water” in the winter to water houseplants, outdoor containers and winter gardens.
  • Wash clothes and dishes using full loads. If your appliances are old, consider replacing them with more energy and water-efficient models.
  • Install low-flow water faucet aerators in bathrooms and kitchen sinks.
  • Turn off the tap when hand washing dishes and brushing your teeth.
  • Use this winter to get your water usage under control by changing family habits and replacing inefficient toilets, showerheads and water-sapping lawns. Many of these purchases also qualify for rebates from EBMUD. (www.ebmud.com)

Reducing your water usage is not only becoming a necessity in California, but also saves you money on your water bill. So get started and start saving!

Loren McDonald is a Danville resident, member of the Sustainable Danville Area organization and blogs about green issues at Loren-Green.com

Reprinted by permission: Danville Today News

Preparing for the Ban: 3 Alternatives to Using Single-Use Plastic Bags

Sustainable Danville Area – Tip of the Month

By Loren McDonald

On August 29, the California State Legislature passed SB 270, a bill that will prohibit the distribution of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores, convenience stores and drugstores. Governor Brown, signed the bill on September 30th, but the American Progressive Bag Alliance (a coalition of manufacturers) have taken steps to gather signatures and qualify for a referendum to repeal SB 270 on the November 2016 ballot.”

 

According to Californians Against Waste, there are currently 98 ordinances in the state that already ban plastic bags in 122 cities and counties. Locally Walnut Creek passed such an ordinance in March of this year and in August, the Danville Town Council has directed staff to prepare a local measure for review. Learn more about this at http://www.danville.ca.gov/plasticbags/ and send comments and questions to plasticbags@danville.ca.gov

 

So What’s The Problem With Plastic Bags?

 

Single-use plastic bags are convenient for consumers and inexpensive for owners of stores, however, their drawbacks are significant and include:

 

  • Plastic bags are believed to take hundreds of years to decompose.
  • In California, CalRecycle estimates that only about 3% of plastic bags are recycled.
  • They are a key source of litter, partially driven by their light weight and ease of flying away.
  • According to the Worldwatch Institute, each year tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles die from contact with ocean-borne plastic bags.
  • They are made from non-renewable natural gas and petroleum.

 

3 Alternatives to Plastic Bags

 

One of the issues with single-use plastic bags is that they aren’t just used to carry items home from the supermarket, fast-food restaurants or pharmacies. Once at home, many consumers like to re-use these bags for other purposes, primarily to line trash baskets and for dog waste.

 

The following are some alternatives to the plastic bag for the above common uses:

 

  1. Re-usable shopping bags: With or without bans on plastic bags, consumers have been adopting the use of reusable bags in a big way, appreciating their larger size, durability and strength.

 

The biggest challenge for most consumers to make the switch is to remember to bring them into the store. Here are a few tips to consider:

 

  • Buy several bags and keep at least three or four in your vehicles.
  • When you get out of your car to go shopping, simply grab the bags and go. After a few months, this process will become second nature, and you will rarely forget to take them.
  • Wash your bags on a regular basis. Use soap and water when washing by hand – many can be tossed into your washing machine.
  • Preferably, purchase a ‘Made in the USA’ cloth-type bag, made of cotton or similar materials. Alternatively, opt for a bag made of recycled materials.

 

  1. Bi-degradable dog waste bags: One of the most common complaints about plastic bag bans is from people who like to use them for their dog waste. But if you put your dog’s waste into a plastic bag, then A) That bag is definitely not useable; and more importantly B) It is no longer recyclable.

 

The best alternative is to purchase biodegradable dog waste bags. Depending on the material used, biodegradable bags will break down typically within a few months or 1-2 years. They are widely available including most pet supply stores and online retailers.

 

If you buy in bulk, biodegradable bags only cost about a penny more than non-biodegradable bags. If you use 2 bags per day you would pay less than $4 per year (the cost of one latte).

 

  1. Paper or biodegradable compost and trash bags. A key problem with using plastic bags in trash bins and baskets in your kitchen, den, bathrooms and garage, is they inhibit the decomposition of items in the bag in the landfill.

 

A better approach then is to reuse compostable paper bags from the supermarket or other store. Even better, however, is to purchase biodegradable trash bags. Depending on the brand and quantity you purchase, 13-gallon kitchen or smaller 3-gallon biodegradable bags will typically cost just a few pennies more per bag than the traditional plastic trash bag. Biodegradable trash bags are a bit harder to find in your local store than plastic trash bags, so I like to order several boxes at a time from Amazon.com, which will last me for a year or so.

 

Like the end of using chlorofluorocarbons in aerosol spray cans in the late 80s, single-use plastic bags are rapidly being phased out across the U.S. and world. The transition away from plastic bags for both merchants and consumers will be an easy one, as the alternatives are many and widely available today.

 

We want to hear about your alternatives to plastic bags, write to us at sustainabledanville@gmail.com or visit us at www.facebook.com/sustainabledanvillearea

 

 

Loren McDonald is a Danville resident, member of the Sustainable Danville Area and blogs about green issues at Loren-Green.com

Reprinted by permission: Danville Today News

Friendly Options for Getting To School

The kids have been back in school for over a month and are settling down to a routine.  But does the routine include an environmentally friendly option for getting to and from school?  Forty years ago, over 50% of kids in the US rode their bikes to school. In 2004, only 3% of kids rode their bikes to school. Biking and walking has been replaced by parents zipping their kids to and from school and to other activities by car. This may seem safe and hassle-free for the kids, but its prevents kids from getting needed exercise, adds considerably to traffic congestion (think Danville Blvd. / Hartz Avenue at 8:00 am Monday through Friday), sends a cocktail of pollutants into the air that we all breath, and emits greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Considering all of these factors, the “true cost” of driving our kids everywhere is more expensive than we might think.

Fortunately, there are many environmentally friendly options for getting your kids to school and many compelling benefits for those that try them.

Bike or Walk – Walking and biking are great alternatives for students that live a few miles from their school. These activities can promote responsible behavior, awareness of the outdoor environment and help students stay physically fit. Alamo and Danville has a number of bike trails and routes, which are located near our schools. Investigate possible biking or walking routes. If you live far away from the school, but want your child to start to experience walking/riding, find a safe place to drop them off and pick them up as far away from school as is appropriate for their ability.

If your child plans to bike, take one or two trial runs with him or her and make sure he or she has the right size helmet, working brakes, properly inflated tires, appropriate attire, and enough time to get to school. Also, pay attention to weather reports for back-up plans in case of bad weather at the end of the school day. Help your child learn the rules of the road and ride in specially designated areas when possible. For bike safety tips, go tohttp://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/pedbimot/bike/kidsandbikesafetyweb/index.htm

Form a “Walking School Bus” or “Bicycle Train” – A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. The bus leaves when the farthest family begins to walk the route and pick up kids along the way. It can be as informal as two families taking turns walking their children to school or as structured as a planned route with meeting points, a timetable and a schedule of trained volunteers. A variation on the walking school bus is a bicycle train where a group of children and adult leaders ride together to school. Learn more about how to create safe routes to school at http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/

Form a “School Pool” – This takes a little coordination, but reduces your drives per week and definitely cuts down on energy use and air pollution. Carpooling also fosters a sense of community among riders. A carpool can give students a sense of responsibility about being on time and an arena where they can practice their ‘pleases’ and ‘thank-you’s’. Conversations in the car allow parents a chance to get to know what’s happening at school in a way a single child rarely shares. Learn more about carpooling to school at: https://www.CarpooltoSchool.com/

Take a Public Bus – Riding the public bus can be a wonderful experience for a child. Safe and reliable, there are public CCCTA buses in town that stop at or near many of our schools. The CCCTA school bus routes can be seen at: http://countyconnection.com/maps-schedules/#school bus fares for CCCTA are $20.00 for a 12-ride pass and $60.00 for a monthly pass. One great source for free bus tickets is 511 Contra Costa www.511contracosta.org.  They will give 2 – $20 bus tickets to a handful of kids who apply in the beginning of the year in exchange for filling out a survey at the end of the year.

Other Tips – If you do drive (hopefully in a carpool) please remember to turn off your car while waiting. An idling engine operates far below its peak temperature, creating fuel residue in the engine, and generating air pollution right where kids are congregating. Another suggestion is to try to combine a trip to school with errands that you need to run. This will save time, reduce your total driving, and reduce the number of times you need to start a “cold car.” Starting a car after it has been sitting for more than an hour creates up to five times more pollution than when the engine is warm.

Preserving Quality Time – Many parents consider one-on-one time with their kids in the car to be a special time to visit. But there may be alternatives that are just as special or even better. You may consider talking with your child about alternatives which could preserve this specialness, knowing that such a change might enhance your child’s development while at the same time improving the future health of your child’s natural environment.

Have other ideas to ditch the car for your ride to school?  Send them to Sustainabledanville@gmail.com , twitter @greendanville or http://www.facebook.com/sustainabledanvillearea.

Reprinted by permission: Danville Today News

Brown is the New Green

Tip of the Month – August 2014

By Cynthia Ruzzi, Sustainable Danville Area 

Homeowner associations can no longer fine residents who stop watering their lawns or take other conservation measures during droughts under state legislation passed recently.  While yards must still be maintained and neat – eliminate dry grass and weeds that might be flammable – there’s no requirement to keep a lawn green or even to keep the lawn. We ‘lost our lawn’ the last time a 20 percent water reduction was required to preserve this very limited and precious resource. Although the earth is comprised of over 70% water, 97% of that is salt water, 2% is frozen in ice caps and glaciers, which means only about 1% is fresh water available for human use. My husband and I still chuckle whenever we see somebody spending their weekend mowing their lawn.  And, while the drought has made it acceptable and even trendy to be ‘Brown’, going ‘lawn-less’- doesn’t have to mean being colorless.  Check out this lovely gallery of native and drought tolerant gardens posted by the East Bay Municipal Water Utility District (EBMUD) https://www.ebmud.com/water-and-wastewater/water-conservation/lawn-goodbye-landscape-gallery.

EBMUD drought tolerant gardenEarn ‘Cash for Grass’ from EBMUD’s landscape and irrigation equipment rebates.  Upgrade your yard, replacing grass with California native and climate-appropriate plants, or permeable hardscapes with materials that allow water to pass through.  A single residence can earn up to $2,500 to create low water use landscaping, improve irrigation efficiency and LOWER your water bill.  Commercial properties and multi-unit residences with more than 5 units can earn up to $20,000. Get all the details by visiting https://www.ebmud.com/for-customers/water-conservation-rebates-and-services/lawn-conversion-irrigation-upgrade-rebates

We found the EBMUD publication Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry climates of the San Francisco Bay Region an invaluable resource during the plant selection process.  EBMUD also has a resource list http://www.ebmud.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/LRP%20resources.pdf of local nurseries, demonstration gardens, classes and events, and books where you can learn about and view native plants.  Additionally, some local nurseries will design a lawn conversion planting plan for a fee and then rebate the fee as credit toward plants purchased.

Looking for other ways to lower the water impact of your yard? Instead of using fresh, drinking water in your yard, consider a gray water system – safely and legally.  Reusing the water that usually goes down the drain after bathing or laundry can keep your landscape healthy and   recharge our depleted groundwater sources. Up to 80 percent of indoor water can be captured and reused as gray water.  EBMUD offers rebates to offset the costs of installing hardware, equipment and systems that result in predictable water savings.    Learn how you can save water and dollars, regulations, health and safety, soaps and products at a Gray water workshop sponsored by EBMUD on Wednesday, August 13th or Wednesday, September 10th.

Even if you’re not ready to go native, you can save dollars by watering your lawn deeply instead of daily.  It’s also best to water in the early morning hours before dawn to give the soil and plant roots adequate time to absorb the water instead of being evaporated by the sun first.  However, it’s best not to water at night to prevent fungus and disease that is encouraged in the wet of foggy nights. For more helpful instructions, check out this helpful guide from EBMUD.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and East Bay Mud (EBMUD) have many more water conservation resources on their websites. To learn more about how you and your family can conserve water, please visit EPA and EBMUD, respectively.

Let us know if you have questions, write to us at sustainabledanville@gmail.com or join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook:  @greendanville and www.facebook.com/sustainabledanville.com  Post a picture of your ‘lose the lawn’ project and tips you have for our followers.

For more information, visit: Save Water and Energy with a Lawn Conversion  and Reasons to Convert Your Lawn

Reprinted by permission: Danville Today News