Tag Archives: rachel egan

RUB-A-Dub-Dub, Less Water In The Tub

TIP OF THE MONTH – March 2012

By Rachel Egan, Sustainable Danville Area 

Have you ever wondered where your water comes from? Of course you know that the water comes through your pipes and into your sink every time you turn on your faucet, but did you know that every time you flush the toilet, brush your teeth, take a shower, water your lawn or run your dishwasher you are using a portion of the world’s minimal potable water?

Potable water is that which is available for human and animal consumption. 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 that only about 1% is fresh water available for human use. Some even argue that, at the rate at which we use fresh water, we will run out of the resource within the next 20 years.

That really puts your water usage in perspective, huh?

In winters as dry as the one we are having now, it is especially important to conserve water so that the water that is available can be allocated to areas such as agricultural land and other industries that require water in order to thrive.

There are, however, steps you can take in order to reduce the amount of water you use in your daily life. Don’t worry; you don’t have to go as far as collecting rainwater off your roof, instead there are smaller, more manageable steps you can take in order to conserve water and make sure you aren’t overusing this limited resource.  Not to mention, using less water saves you money too!

Here are some tips for water conservation in your home, especially through this dry winter, but also throughout the rest of the year:

  • Water your lawn deeply instead of daily,and do so in the early morning hours before dawn. By watering your lawn early in the morning, you are giving the soil and plant roots adequate time to absorb the water without it being evaporated by the sun first.  For more helpful instructions, check out this helpful guide from EBMUD:  http://www.ebmud.com/sites/default/files/pdfs/WateringGuide_0.pdf
  • Reuse water from cooking to water plants inside and outside of the home (using water from cooking spaghetti, rinsing vegetables or boiling potatoes are wonderful places to start).
  • Wash your car in carwashes such as Sponges or at gas stations rather than in your driveway. Car wash stations have special draining systems that prevent pollutants from soap and car grease from entering into the groundwater and fresh water supply – they also recycle their water and use just the right amount of water needed to rinse your car (instead of letting the hose run while you’re not using it.)
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth. If you brush your teeth twice a day for the recommended 2-3 minutes and leave the water running – even using a low flow faucet – you would be wasting up to 3,285 gallons per year.  Imagine a family of four could fill an average backyard pool instead of letting this water ‘go down the drain’.
  • Make sure all of the pipes and taps in your house are tightly sealed so as to prevent leaking and water loss. According to the National Environmental Services Center, one drop of water per second can add up to 2,700 gallons per year. (Hint: put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If you start getting color in the toilet bowl without flushing, there is a leak.)
  • Only do laundry if you have a full load – when washing laundry, do so in cold water (this reduces the amount of electricity used, as well as prevents colors from bleeding).
  • Take shorter showers. (You may even want to try turning off the water when you are lathering up with shampoo, soap, or conditioner.) On that note, you might also want to take a look at the gallons-per-minute (gpm) ranking on your showerhead and if more than 2.0 gpm, then new models provide wonderful pressure for a wonderful, relaxing experience.
  • Compost organic waste instead of using the garbage disposal – this will reduce your water usage and you can use the compost as fertilizer, all at the same time!
  • Don’t use water to wash porches or decks; instead, use a broom.

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 http://www.epa.gov and http://www.ebmud.com, respectively.

Want to know more about this precious resource?  We do…so Sustainable Danville Area and San Ramon Valley High School Environmental Club are bringing you two events in March to help us learn more about global and local water issues.

Join us on Tuesday, March 13th at 7pm at SRVHS’ Performing Arts Center 501 Danville Blvd. for a screening of the award-winning documentary Blue Gold that sheds light on the approaching crisis of dwindling water supplies. Suggested donation $5.

And to compliment movie night, join us on March 21st at 6:15pm at San Ramon Valley High School in Room S3 in the Administrative Building (upstairs).  Our speaker, Leslie Dumas, Hydrologist and Senior Project Manager with RMC Water and Environment will help us gain an understanding of our local water resources and future vulnerabilities.

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News


BEE ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS

TIP OF THE MONTH – JANUARY 2012

By Rachel Egan, Sustainable Danville Area

When somebody asks you what you are afraid of, what do you say? Spiders? Heights? Public speaking? Bees? Yes, spiders are creepy looking. Being up high can make you feel you may fall. Speaking in front of other people can be nerve-wracking – all those eyes on you! And bees can sting when provoked. But what if I were to tell you that one of these things is actually a big contributor to the food on your table? Would you reconsider your phobia?

As I was starting my senior year at Cal Poly, I decided I wanted to take one fun class each quarter that didn’t necessary fill degree requirements, but did fulfill my interest in the topic. In the Fall Quarter, I decided my fun class would be beekeeping. I had no idea how much it would open my eyes to the world around me. Not only did I learn a bit of Egyptian history, I also got a few biology lessons, watched interesting documentaries, and left the class with a new passion for bees – and an A.

If you are afraid of bees, you probably have not given much thought to the positive impact they have on your everyday life. Being someone whose bee stings swell up to the size of baseballs, probably one of the most useful tips I learned in my beekeeping class is to ice the sting location and put a dab of toothpaste on the sting every once in awhile and voila, good as new in a few days.  I was only stung twice during the three month class – and it was completely my fault, but I forgave the bee since they help farmers grow our food, pollinate the flowers in our gardens, have the capability of reducing allergies and produce one of my favorite foods, honey. In fact, bees pollinate 1 of every 3 bites of food we eat. If that doesn’t convince you to become ‘Bee-friendly’, consider this: you could actually survive on honey alone since it’s the only known food containing all the necessary nutrients that humans need to survive. And some say, a teaspoon of raw honey at bedtime (along with daily exercise) can help you lose fat faster than exercise alone.

Over the past few years, farmers have noticed a shocking trend with their bees: often when they check on the hives, there are no bees to be found. Bees have started abandoning their hives and are dying at surprising rates. This phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD. Thus far, scientists have been unable to figure out why CCD occurs, but it is not surprising that, with nearly 80% of crops being pollinated by bees, farmers and scientists alike are worried about the bee population. China has already seen CCD change the course of its agriculture industry – since the ‘80s, farm workers have needed to hand pollinate all the blossoms in agricultural land because there is no longer a bee population to do it naturally.

Beekeeping is surprisingly easy. By visiting the Mount Diablo Bee Association website (http://www.diablobees.org), you will find information about how to raise bees, what to do with a bee swarm, how to create the best environment for your bees, and more. Raising bees can take as much or as little time as you want it to? How often you care for the bees depends on how involved you want to be in the harvesting of wax and honey. Give beekeeping a try; you may be surprised at how much a bunch of bees can improve the health of your plants in your garden and neighborhood. .

Join Sustainable Danville Area and Monte Vista High School’s Garden Club for a Honey Tasting and a filming of “Queen of the Sun”, about the environmental importance of honey bees. The evenings’ activities begin at 6PM on Wednesday, January 25th.  A $5 suggested donation benefits MVHS student efforts to build an organic garden on campus.

Reprinted with permission from Danville Today News

Green Looks Good on you this Holiday Season

TIP OF THE MONTH – December 2011

BY RACHEL EGAN

As the holiday season quickly approaches, many people are developing lists of presents to give loved ones. From toys to clothing, it’s easy to go to the mall and check off everything on your list without giving it a second thought – but gift giving is sweeter when the gift is exactly what the person wants and also helps our environment and community.

If you have ever watched the AMC show Mad Men, and then gone out in Danville, Alamo and even San Francisco, you might notice that there is a similarity between the fashion on the streets and in the show. That’s because fashion comes full circle. Checking consignment stores for high quality clothing and accessories is the perfect place to start. Purchasing used items is not only environmentally friendly, but it is also a great way to say, “I saw this and thought of you.” Our community has a wonderful collection of consignment and antique stores, including Danville Area Sustainable Businesses ConsignIt Couture and Cottage Jewel that offer a plethora of unique fashion choices for holiday gifts.

Purchasing items made in the USA is a great way to get quality items and boost our economy at the same time. Companies located within the United States are held to much stricter environmental and pollution standards than many of their foreign competitors, which means the factories are more environmentally friendly and the quality of your clothing is higher.

Just like any other organic product, growing cotton organically prevents pesticides from entering groundwater, a large contributor to the world’s fresh water supply. In fact, today 50 percent of groundwater is contaminated with pesticides from agricultural production – including cotton. Companies such as Adidas, Pottery Barn, and Levi’s (to name a few) are making commitments to help alleviate groundwater pollution by using organic cotton in their product production.  Locally, Danville Area Sustainable Business Olive Boutique offers sustainable fashion for all occasions made with 100% organic materials.

Do you recycle at home, but wonder where those plastic bottles ultimately go? You may not have to look much further than your closet. By doing some minimal research online, you can find companies that use partially or 100 percent recycled material for their fleece products.  Not only will you help the environment by purchasing fleece clothes made out of recycled plastics, but you will keep your loved ones warm and cozy all winter.

While you are online searching for eco-friendly fleece, you might also want to check out other sustainable clothing companies. Many items from these companies can be purchased through Amazon, or any other number of online retailers.

The holidays are not only a time for giving and receiving from your loved ones, but they are also a time to give back to the world that we live in. One way to help the planet and assist those who are less fortunate than you is to go through your closet so you can donate clothes and recycle shoes. Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program (www.nikereuseashoe.com) takes your old athletic shoes and reuses them for athletic grounds or apparel. Another way to give back is to buy a pair of Tom’s shoes (www.toms.com). For every pair of shoes (or glasses) you buy from Tom’s, a pair is donated to a child in need. As of September 2010, over one million pairs were donated to children around the world, including here at home in the United States.

Of course, we always encourage people to shop locally. There are many wonderful stores in the area that sell locally- and/or organically-produced goods, including clothing. For the list of Danville Area Sustainable Businesses, visit the Sustainable Danville Area website at www.sustainabledanville.com – you will find clothing stores, restaurants, home furnishing studios, and more. By shopping at these local businesses you will not only be helping the environment, but you will also be supporting your neighbors and helping the local economy.

Sustainable Danville Area wishes our friends and supporters a happy and peaceful holiday season.  There will not be a forum in December, but we hope to see you in the New Year. For more information, please visit us atwww.sustainabledanville.com, on Facebook or @greendanville on Twitter.

Reprinted with permission from Alamo Today/Danville Today News