Tag Archives: CCCSWA Public Workshop

How Plastic Are You?

Tip of the Month – January 2014

BY Cynthia Ruzzi, President, Sustainable Danville Area

Have you ever overheard someone referring to a woman as ‘plastic’?  The term just as easily could be used to refer to a man, but either gender, “she’s so plastic” usually describes the person as ‘fake’ or ‘phony’ – or that she has undergone one too many cosmetic surgeries!  However, if the world continues its love affair with plastic polymers, one day soon we might all be more plastic than a Barbie doll.

In the opening pages of Plastic, A Toxic Love Story, author Susan Freinkel attempts to go an entire day without touching anything plastic.  After touching numerous plastic objects during her morning routine, she revises her plan and decides to write down everything she touches that is plastic.  This strategy nets her four notebook pages of plastic items by the end of the day!  If you’re not convinced we all live in ‘Plasticville’, then consider that the average American uses between 330 – 500 plastic bags a year for an average of 12 minutes before throwing them out (that adds up to between 100-150 BILLION plastic bags used last year in the United States alone).

Unlike most other trash, plastic isn’t biodegradable and only five percent of our bags are recycled.  What happens to a discarded bag besides becoming a modern day tumble weed floating along our streets? They never go away!  Sunlight eventually breaks the bonds in the plastic polymers; a process known as photodegradation , but the plastic bits never really go away.   There is a floating “island” of plastic swirling around in the Pacific Ocean known as the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’.  And while you may not be planning to visit the island on your next family vacation, you may want to think about how this ‘plastic soup’ can visit us!  Fish in the Pacific Ocean eat the plastic bits (thinking that it’s plankton, better known as fish food) and then we eat the fish, so essentially we’re eating the toxins from the plastic water bottle someone chucked out.

San Ramon Valley High School Environmental Club (E2) students and Sustainable Danville Area bring the award-winning film Bag It to Danville.  Bag It, a touching and often funny documentary about how we use and abuse plastic, is the featured film to be screened on Tuesday, January 28th at 7PM in the San Ramon Valley High School Performance Arts Center 501 Danville Blvd. The group hopes to raise awareness of the impact of single use plastics, like plastic bags and water bottles, on our community.

The film is an eye-opening look at the environmental and health dangers posed by the global use of disposable, non-biodegradable plastic products. Told with wit and humor, Bag It follows “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world.  The film focuses on plastic as it relates to our throwaway mentality, our culture of convenience, our over consumption of unnecessary, disposable products and packaging – things that we use one time and then, without another thought, throw them away.  Remind me, what’s AWAY??  If  I remember that ‘away’ really just means ‘out of sight’ and ‘see you soon as fish food’ then I might remember to grab a few of those 10 re-usable bags sitting in my car trunk as I enter the grocery store.  I’ll even fill a re-usable water bottle if it keeps toxins out of my fish and it’s a bonus knowing that I’m not adding to the island vortex in our oceans.

General admission to the film screening is open to the public with seating availability on a first come basis.  A $5 suggested donation benefits the San Ramon Valley High School Environmental Club (E2).  Join the Near-Zero Waste Pre-show: Weather permitting, we’ll gather in front of the theatre for snacks and games.  Test your recycling knowledge and win cool prizes.  Learn how to protect our creeks and water resources. Please bring a re-usable container for beverages. Activities begin at 6:30PM. For more information regarding this event, or to donate to the San Ramon Valley High School Environmental Club (E2), please visit www.sustainabledanville.com or follow us on Facebook.

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News

It’s Time for a Picnic

Sustainable Danville Area Tip of the Month – April 2013

By Cynthia Ruzzi, President Sustainable Danville Area

Just two days past Spring Equinox and Mother Nature has spring fever.  The poppies are flourishing along with so many other colorful blooms and even after what has proven to be our driest winter, our hills are green.  The sun is warm and my concentration is so poor; I had to ask for a deadline extension for submitting this month’s tip of the month.  This month’s column has more than just one Sustainable Tip of the Month, but it’s a picnic – a smorgasbord of ‘Where to Find Sustainable Tips’.

For almost three years, we have shared tips on everything from the benefits of biking, local food, sustainable landscaping to home energy diets, eco-travel, raising chickens and eco-friendly art supplies.  These articles are still available to you online from Danville Today News/Alamo Today News and on the Sustainable Danville Area website

Often, I’m asked to describe what sustainable living is and simply it’s ‘making choices that allow our resources to continue to be available for our children and their children’, ‘living as though there’s no Planet B’ and remembering that ‘Planet Earth is the only one with chocolate’.  With this in mind and in honor of Earth Day, celebrated worldwide on April 22nd by hundreds of millions of people in over 184 countries, here are some of our favorite places for information and tips to care for our corner of this wonderful planet.

Gardening:  Hands down the Contra Costa Master Gardeners have it ‘going on’. These trained volunteers are residents of local communities that provide University of California research-based horticultural information to the citizens of California. Besides engaging local lectures, their website is filled with tips for school gardens, edible gardens and drought and native landscaping.

Composting & Recycling:  Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority offers terrific information on where to recycle just about anything.  You’ll also find a calendar for composting workshops, including worm composting too.

PG&E:   Saving energy in your home is not just good for the planet, it’s good for your pocketbook. PG&E has great tools to track your electric and gas usage online and they make it easy to do a self-audit of your home energy to find and prevent energy loss.

Environmental Working Group  This powerhouse site is our ‘go-to’ place for everything from their cosmetic database, the Dirty Dozen list (which recommends the best fruits and vegetables to buy organic to avoid pesticides) and guides on sunscreens, home cleaners and other daily products.

Earth Day EventWant more?  Well then, Picnic on the Green! The Town of Danville, The Danville Library and Sustainable Danville Area present the 3rd Annual Town of Danville Earth Day Event on Saturday, April 20th 12pm – 4pm on the Town Green, in  the Danville Library, at the community center and the Village Theatre Art Gallery.

The Town of Danville Earth Day event is a free, fun and informative way for residents and visitors of all ages to learn about green building, sustainable landscape design, solar power, home energy efficient products, waste reduction, recycling, water conservation, hybrid and electrical vehicles and much more!

Pack your picnic or purchase lunch and snacks al fresco from La Boulange Bakery while enjoying music from local band, Other People’s Money.  Play with our Giant Earth Ball, visit with hybrid/electric car and electric bicycle owners and participate in popular hands-on activities at interactive booths, including:

  •  Get ready to experience nature with Peanuts…Naturally! Fun, creative environmental crafts and activity stations presented by the Charles M. Schulz Museum.
  • Plant a seed to start your summer vegetable garden with The Bounty Garden and Urban Farmers.
  • Explore the Wonderful World of Worms and Composting for Busy People.
  • Make an Earth Day pledge to reduce, re-use or recycle. See how Every Choice Counts and help the Earth Day Tree grow!  Everyone who adds a ‘leaf pledge’ will be entered into an hourly raffle to win a “Get Your Green On” reusable book bag.
  • Afternoon speaker series will help you Green Your Home, Replace your Lawn with Drought Tolerant Plants and Enjoying Local, Organic Foods for a Healthy Planet.
  • Be inspired at Story Time with special tales and eco-friendly ideas to celebrate the Earth all year.
  • Measure your carbon footprint.Discover if solar energy is right for your home?
  • Be dazzled by art from local students at the Earth Day Student Art Show in the Village Theatre Art Gallery. (Students: click here for  details to enter contest before 4/5/13)
  • Try new veggies from Community Supported Agriculture Farms – Full Belly Farms & Doorstep Farmers.

Students from San Ramon Valley High School Environmental Club are hosting free bicycle parking for the event, so please consider two wheels or your feet as parking is limited for the event.  Hope to see you there!

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News



By Cynthia Ruzzi, President  Cynthia@sustainabledanville.com

Do you eat those mealy, tasteless slices of tomato tucked into your sandwich or like me, open and remove immediately?  I can’t eat the anemic looking fruit that graces the side plate with bits of lettuce from the deli and I definitely will not buy artificially ripened supermarket tomatoes.

While the tomatoes in our supermarkets are seasonally grown in California, they are picked when considered “mature green”, just starting to turn color but still firm. Discovery News recently did a story reporting that the modern tomato has been cultivated to ripen evenly to uniform the harvest and it is this gene mutation that is to blame for tasteless tomatoes. I’m sure it doesn’t help that these green, firm tomatoes are packed into ethylene (a flammable gas derived from petroleum) storage for 3 days to change the starch of the tomato to sugar forcing it to turn red. While visually appealing, this process does nothing to enhance the taste.  The blandness is further cemented by shipping tomatoes in cold storage putting an immediate end to further ripening.

How do you get a tomato that tastes like a tomato?  One solution is to shop the local farmer’s market for organic produce.  Look for tomatoes grown sustainably since farmers that use these practices haven’t depleted the soil with chemical products.  These tomatoes are sure to be rich in magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc – trace minerals that help maintain our good health and give our fruits and vegetable their flavor.  When selecting tomatoes, sniff the blossom end, not the stem end, for a rich aroma.  Store fresh, ripe tomatoes stem-side down in a cool, dark place and use within a few days.  Please don’t put them in the refrigerator.

With so many varieties of tomatoes, you can grow your own tomatoes in any 5 gallon container with lots of sunshine.   However, with our wacky weather this summer, I am still tomato-less waiting for ‘real’ pasta sauce while my San Marzano beauties vine ripen.

Considering the journey out-of-season tomatoes from Arizona and Mexico take to get to our grocery stores and my uneasiness with BPA in most aluminum cans, I’m going to can my summer bounty for the winter season.  Now where to get the tomatoes….

Inspired by our summer days picking unwanted Danville and Alamo backyard fruit for the local food pantries, we longed for more time ‘on the farm’ before the seriousness of autumn.  So, we decided to take a road trip and we’re inviting you to join us “On The Road” as we tour Wild Boar Farms on Sunday, September 9th 11am – 2pm.


BRING: Hat, Flat shoes, Camera, Re-usable bag for tomatoes and an Appetite

Wild Boar Farms is not just any farm – it’s a tomato breeding ground for 12,000 certified, organic tomato plants located in ‘tomato terroir’ Suisun Valley.   They are growing a rare, exotic gourmet collection of heirloom and future heirloom tomatoes.  Our special day will include an exclusive tomato tour and talk by Farmer Brad Gates, tomato and wine tasting, lunch provided by Fume Bistro & Bar, Napa and 1 lb. of tomatoes as a parting gift to you.  Come and enjoy an informative and fun day at the farm with your friends and family.  The event is accessible for all ages and benefits The Urban Farmers Fruit Gleaning Program (www.theurbanfarmers.org).  Please visit the Sustainable Danville Area Events page www.sustainabledanville.com for more details and a link to purchase tickets.  Adults $25 / Children $10

There will also be time to pick & purchase enough tomatoes to preserve for the winter season.  If preserving tomatoes is what you have in mind, but you don’t know where to start, join us on Saturday, September 8th 9am-noon at The Garden at Heather Farm for a class on canning & preserving your seasons’ bounty.  Patrice Hanlon, Garden Director, who has been canning her favorite vegetables for over 25 years, will introduce us to different methods of preserving, with a particular focus on water bath canning.  It’s a hands-on class with each participant making a jar of dill and a jar of sweet & sour pickles to take home. $35/$10 materials. Register at http://www.gardenshf.org/adult-classes.html or call (925) 947-1678.


Central Conta Costa Solid Waste Authority and the Town of Danville are hosting a public workshop at the Danville Town Hall, September 19th 6:30 – 8:30pm to gather feedback on current and future services.

Did you know that as of July 1, 2012, California businesses are required to recycle, including multi-family homes? (AB 341)  Did you know that as a Danville or Alamo resident our separated yard clippings is used as daily alternative cover in the landfill and not composted?  Do you know that neighboring communities from Lafayette to San Ramon keep food scraps out of the landfill by putting them directly into their green waste bins, but we can’t?

Help us improve waste and recycling services for businesses and residents in Danville, Diablo, Blackhawk and Alamo. http://www.wastediversion.org/   If you cannot attend, please take a moment to answer the simple survey (nine questions) online by October 1, 2012. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CCCSWA_feedback

 Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News