Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

San Jose: Great American Litter Pick Up

The “Great American Litter Pick Up” is this Saturday March 20, 2010

Registration 8 AM-8:30
Clean-up 8:30 – 11:30
FREE – celebration lunch for volunteers, 12 noon – 1 PM

Volunteers: bring your own pick-up stick & gloves
All youth under 18 need supervision & transportation to get to clean up sites.

For registration information see “don’t let LITTER trash your community!

For more information or to sign up call: (408) 277-3208
Para información sobre este día de limpieza comunitaria, llame al (408) 277-3208.
Muoná bietá tin töcù banè g tiená g Vietä veà viecä donï racù vötù böaø baiõ , xin goiï soá (408) 277-3208.

Gardening: Saving Water and Bees in San Jose

Limnanthes vinculans (Sebastopol meadowfoam)

For many reasons plants native to California are quickly disappearing, urban development being just one. Citizen groups are encouraging homeowners to use native plants in their landscaping. Not only do these plants look natural and save water, they may be beneficial to birds, butterflies, and play a role in saving the bee population.

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man,” – a quote attributed to Albert Einstein.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District has four Saturday workshops where the homeowner can learn to select plants and how to be more efficient with their water use.

One of the workshops will be presented by Rebecca Schoenenberger.
Rebecca, a garden consultant, will discuss how to garden with native plants.

Gardening with Native Gardens:
Santa Clara Valley Water District
Saturday March 20th, 2010
9am to 12 noon
Cost: Free
Call 408-265-2607 (x 2554)
Class size is limited.

Native wildflower Blazing Star (Mentzelia lindleyi)

Pollinators and Native Gardens, with Rebecca Schoenenberger (landscape and maintenance expert)
Learn how to create a habitat garden and encourage pollinators:
Almaden Valley Library
6455 Camden Ave, San Jose
March 23rd, 2010
6:30pm to 8pm

Rebecca Schoenenberger
California Nativescapes
408-666-1822 (Cell)
408-243-5663 (Office)

California Nativescapes on facebook

The Going Native Garden Tour 2010

This free tour features plants native to California which can flourish with as little water, chemical, and pesticide use as possible.

Registration for the April 18, 2010 Going Native Garden Tour is now open. It (Registration) will close on Sun, April 18, 2010 @ 3:00pm or when the tour reaches capacity, whichever comes first.

Each tour of about 45 gardens will be from 10 am to 4 pm.

Check the site for the details.

A look at the gardens of 2009

Local School Club Gets Award

Minutes 6-13 of the City Council meeting shows a portion of the Horace Mann Recycle Club getting an award, from either HP Pavilion or Allied Waste, not sure. This is an effort over the last few years at a local school, and the lengths and breadth of this program is pretty neat. Each day kids divide waste up and staff and parents work with the kids to educate other students on how to recycle. They also worked with a new waste vendor to get recycling services incorporated- and are working on composting. Very sweet & touching- and I’ve heard *a lot* about this program, as the volunteer who coordinated is my sister! “Super volunteer,” as the mayor calls her, aw.

Just a little intro- I’m a SF dweller but grew up in Cupertino and, as you can see, visit family and frequently work there as well. I guess you can call it “guest blogging”- I don’t write that frequently for SF either, but if something comes down the line that I think may be of interest, it’s nice to post directly to the site instead of goading one of my SJ friends to post it! I’m also glad to join this great group of writers. My home on the internet:

Let it Snow!

From my balcony.

From my balcony.

HAMCAMS are two cameras mounted on the roof of Lick Observatory.

Images on Mt. Hamilton and the valley below. A new set of stills and a movie daily.

For more information on the HAMCAMS see Gary’s post.

Winter Spare the Air Day Alerts 2009-2010

Cord of Wood

Cord of Wood

The times they are a-changin’. It used to be give the chimney a thorough cleaning and order a cord of wood. Nowadays it’s check the website or e-mail alerts before thinking about sitting around a cozy fire.

Winter Spare the Air runs: November 1, 2009 – February 28, 2010

Get Notifications:
* Check the newspaper, radio, and TV
* Check the web for wood burning status.
* Sign up for e-mail or phone alerts.
* If that’s not enough there is a widget.

Report wood smoke concerns (snitch on the neighbors) call 1-877-4NO-BURN (1-877-466-2876).

One way to get that ‘warm cozy’ during “Spare the Air” is to put on a wearable fleece blanket with sleeves (odd looking monk robe), then put in a sold by Amazon Fireplace DVD, or try Comcast.

Comcast On Demand:
TV Entertainment go to Yule Log & More- click on Fireplace – or TV Entertainment scroll down to TV Screensavers.

I can not recommend the 20 minutes of “Island Sunset”. The squawking bird sounds turned thoughts of peaceful, soothing and warm to thoughts of an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle! – – but that’s another Christmas story.

Follow SpareTheAir on twitter.

Rebates for water-wise gardening

Fall is a great time to replant a garden, and, if you’re willing to plant a low-water garden, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is willing to help out with rebates for water-wise landscaping improvements. The rebates are available if you replace at least 100 square feet of high-water landscaping with approved new plants, or replace wasteful irrigations systems with high-efficiency irrigation like drip tube. Low-water landscaping is a great opportunity to plant Californa native plants, which look beautiful, save water, and provide food and habitat for our native critters. Although its not as pretty, the landscaping rebate is also available if you landscape (or maybe replace pavement) with “permeable hardscape”, meaning porous solid surfaces that allow water to drain through into the soil.

There’s quite a few restrictions on the rebate program, and you have to contact SCVWD before starting your project, so check out the details on the website for landscape replacement rebates or irrigation equipment rebates.

(Hat tip to Bonnie on NNASJ for this story)

Disposable shopping bags on the way out

It looks like the days of disposable plastic shopping bags are numbered, at least in San Jose.
District 3 councilmember Sam Liccardo gave a good explanation why in his latest email newsletter:

We pay for those “free” bags in numerous subtle—but substantial—ways. Since grocery stores spend billions of dollars for single-use bags in the U.S., a share of those costs undoubtedly find their way to consumers in the form of higher food prices. Waste haulers and recyclers in San José suffer repeated breakdowns when the plastic bags become lodged in their digesters, requiring manual removal that forces them to shut down machinery several times a day. As rate payers, we pay for those additional labor costs on the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. In a myriad of ways, we also pay for the litter resulting from the thoughtless disposal of these bags, the most obviously through the cost to taxpayers to dislodge and clean the bags from clogged outfalls, sewers, and streams. In addition to these costs, we face the challenge of reducing the bags that are filling our landfills as we try to move toward “zero waste” strategies to address our lack of landfill space.

Plastic bag recycling has several limitations. It’s not easy for consumers to know which kinds of plastic can be recycled, and any food debris or other contaminants will make the plastic undesirable for recyclers. Market realities also make it challenging; as reported in the Christian Science Monitor (March 29, 2007, “Seldom Recycled”), it costs $4,000 to process and recycle one ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for $32. Where recycling often requires heavy taxpayer subsidies, it’s better to keep the product out of the waste stream rather than spinning our wheels in quixotic recycling efforts.

And not only are the costs of keeping the disposable bags high, the inconvenience of doing away with them is really minimal.

Travelling in Europe last year, I got to see how a bag ban could work in practice. In Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic I never saw a grocery store give away a bag, but it was no problem. The key is one thing that doesn’t seem to have caught on here yet: re-usable plastic bags. Much heavier-duty than the current disposable bags, they could still be folded up and kept in your pocket. They cost only about 25 cents each, and lasted through dozens of grocery trips.

There’s still a few hurdles before San Jose truly goes disposable-bag-free, but the city council deserves kudos for setting this in motion.

Creek Cleanup-Get Dirty for Good


Are you tired of driving by the creeks around San Jose only to see them clogged with debris of all sorts? Here’s your chance to do something about it!

This year is the 25th Anniversary of California Coastal Cleanup Day, one of the largest events of it’s kind of the year. Just because we aren’t actually on the coast doesn’t mean we can’t chip in and clean up our waterways (which eventually lead to the ocean) now does it?

Last year, just in Santa Clara County alone, 1,331 volunteers removed 95,656 pounds (47.8 tons) of debris and 16,327 pounds (8.2 tons) of recyclables from 26 locations throughout the county.

So get on over to and find out the details on one of the 35 locations targeted for clean-up. Bring your own gloves, sturdy shoes, sunscreen, a hat and some water (in a recycled bottle please!) and pitch in. You’ll also need to download and sign a waiver to participate, and it’s a good idea to visit the volunteer page for instructions.

San José going green: Will bags be sacked?

plastic bags -- should they be banned?

Plastic bags -- should they be banned?

This week, the City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee met to discuss a ban on plastic and paper bags. According to a Mercury News article on the issue, the only large city that has implemented a ban like this is San Francisco, as most cities which have implemented bans have banned only the plastic bags. The effort in San Jose is being spearheaded by Vice Mayor Judy Chirco and Councilmembers Sam Liccardo, Kansen Chu, and Nora Campos.

According to a presentation given at the committee meeting, fifteen other Santa Clara County cities are considering banning bags because of encouragement from the County Board of Supervisors and environmental agencies.

The City of San José’s proposed ban also includes paper bags because of the environmental impact involved in manufacturing them. “Green” paper bags, with at least 50% recycled content, would be excluded from the ban.  Restaurants would also not be required to discontinue usage of plastic bags.

Not surprisingly, the plastic industry lobby has already been urging the Council not to be hasty in making their decision. Nevertheless, the matter is heading for vote and discussion by the Council as soon as November, thanks to a unanimous recommendation by the committee.

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