It’s Earth Month in Chula Vista

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Earth Month takes place during April every year. It’s a time to raise environmental awareness and create consciousness around the issues that affect mother nature during this time of crisis. Every April, leaders, and environmental activists from all over the world join hands to create sustainable development and offer climate solutions, to minimize our carbon footprint and prevent further harm to our planet’s natural resources. It’s increasingly important to observe this month as Earth starts to unravel the harmful effects of climate change which not only poses a threat to our existence but is irreversibly damaging all forms of life. Learn more about how you can participate this Earth Month.

The History of Earth Month Around The World

Earth Month started as a movement to resist the abusive and negligent consumption of leaded gas by Americans. This climate crisis started with air pollution brought about by the emissions of massive, inefficient automobiles. In 1962, Rachel Carson published the book “Silent Spring,” which became a “New York Times” bestseller, that raised awareness of the effects of pollution on all living organisms. Besides being a huge commercial success, selling over 500,000 copies in 24 different countries, the book was the turning point in people’s environmental consciousness.

In January 1969, several witnesses saw a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California, which caused major destruction to the environment. This captured the attention of senator Gaylord Nelson who wanted to use students’ passion and energy for anti-war protests for ecological activism, particularly regarding air and water pollution. This idea inspired a group of activists to dedicate themselves to encouraging all Americans to be proactive and environmentally conscious. They named their initiative Earth Day, which immediately caught the attention of the media and since a day isn’t enough to achieve the desired results regarding climate solutions, Earth Month was created. This was first celebrated on April 4, 1970.

By 1990, Earth Month became a global event after 200 million participants from 141 countries joined the initiative. By 1992, the United Nations became actively involved too which further enhanced the organization’s visibility. Today, Earth Month is widely recognized as one of the most important month-long observances in the world. Here are some great things Chula Vista is doing to celebrate Earth Month!

Chula Vista Zero Waste Academy – Inaugural Session Completed

The city of Chula Vista’s Office of Sustainability has just completed its inaugural Zero Waste Academy and 17 participants have become the first-ever Chula Vista Zero Waste Champions. The Academy was conducted in-person and online simultaneously. The weekly sessions ran from February 9 through March 23 consisting of five in-class learning opportunities and two sessions featuring tours of local facilities. The tours offered Academy participants firsthand, eye opening experiences of what becomes of the contents in their trash), recyclables, and food and yard waste. To acknowledge the achievement of becoming Zero Waste Champions, they will be honored at a City Council meeting later this spring.

The Academy educated Chula Vista residents on the fundamentals and practices of Zero Waste focusing on changing the mindset of residents to be keep things out of the landfill. The Academy created an awareness that many “wastes” are actually “resources which can be reused, repurposed, repaired or recycled” until their useful life is no more. With knowledge gained from the Academy, Champions are now equipped to educate their family, friends, and social networks on key facets of Zero Waste and initiate them to develop new habits for conducting easy-to-do Zero Waste practices that benefit the environment and their pocketbooks.

Zero Waste Champions learned about Chula Vista’s Waste Reduction Strategic Plan (Zero Waste Plan) and the city’s goals of achieving 90 percent waste diversion by 2035, which served as a foundation for the Academy. Other key topics included the Zero Waste Hierarchy serves as the ideological cornerstone of Zero Waste and managing wastes, contents disposed into the landfill, sustainable management systems, the circular economy, the recycling business, plastics issues including single-use plastics, textiles including fast fashion, green marketing and greenwashing, extended producer responsibility, waste reduction laws, and initiating civic responsibility to influence product manufacturers to reduce waste. The Academy took a deep dive into recycling properly and food waste recycling now required by state law. Academy participants learned numerous tips on eliminating the use of single-use products and replacing them with reusable items such as cloth napkins, reusable coffee and drink containers, and reusing paper bags for food waste recycling and other crafty uses.

To further their knowledge, Academy participants utilized the Zero Waste Hierarchy to develop their own Home Waste Assessment to determine what to do with contents that has accumulated in their homes. For this exercise they developed a plan for reusing, repurposing, repairing, recycling, or donating items to keep things out of the landfill.

Facility tours provided Academy participants with firsthand knowledge of what happens to various wastes after pickup at the curb or at construction sites. The Otay Landfill showed how trash is disposed into the landfill and how food and yard waste is processed into a nutrient-rich soil amendment (compost and mulch) at the state-of-the art Otay Compost Facility. The second tour featured two facilities. A materials recovery facility (MRF) which processes recyclable contents including a variety of plastic containers, paper, cardboard, and glass, aluminum and plastic beverage containers. Academy participants learned how items are separated and sorted by both people and high-tech machines using optics, magnetism, and air blowing equipment followed by bailing for shipment to be manufactured into new products. The Construction and Demolition (C&D) Debris facility where dumpsters containing mixed loads of lumber, drywall, concrete, metal are delivered from construction sites and then separated into piles of raw materials for processing into new materials.

Visit www.chulavistaca.gov/zerowaste to learn more about the Zero Waste Academy. Click on Attend Chula Vista’s Zero Waste Academy button to get on the Wait List to be contacted about the next Academy to be scheduled later this year.

 

FREE Drug Take Back & Electronic Waste Disposal Event

On Saturday, April 22, the City of Chula Vista Office of Sustainability, the Chula Vista Police Department, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will provide the public an opportunity to dispose of unwanted prescription medication. The annual Drug Take Back Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and residents may bring expired, unused or unwanted prescription drugs for disposal to the Otay Ranch Town Center, 2015 Birch Road, Chula Vista, in the southern parking lot in front of Macy’s. The event is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Please note that sites cannot accept liquids or sharps, only pills or patches.

The safe disposal of prescription medication addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the United States are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Medicines that are improperly disposed in the trash or toilet also pose an environmental hazard to people and animals.

Residents will also be able to bring their old electronics for recycling. The City of Chula Vista Office of Sustainability is partnering with Secure E-Waste Solutions to provide free recycling of electronic waste such as televisions, computers, monitors, phones, vacuums, microwaves, and more. For more information, visit https://www.chulavistaca.gov/residents/advanced-components/site-content/city-calendar.

 

Benefits of Compost Application

It has been a wet winter and spring for San Diego, let alone the whole State of California, creating problems of erosion and runoff. Most erosion can be prevented with compost application through the structural benefits that adding compost provides.

Compost increases the permeability and infiltration of our heavy clay soils. In doing this, it decreases the amount of stormwater runoff that flows over the soil. Since overland stormwater flow is largely responsible for erosion during storm events, compost decreases this erosion.

In addition, compost slows water flow through the soil by increasing the holding capacity of sandy soils. This further decreases on-site erosion.

Finally, compost reduces erosion by acting as a soil “glue” that holds particles together. These “sticky” properties are due to its high humus content; humus is a stable residue that results from the decomposition of organic matter.

Since 2015, Republic Services has provided free compost to residents and businesses of Chula Vista each year in March, August, and November. This year they added an additional event that occurred in January.

If you would like to reap the benefits of adding compost to your soil attend the next Free Compost “Earth Day” Event at the Otay Ranch Town Center parking lot (near Planet Fitness) on Saturday, April 22nd. Don’t forget to bring your shovels, containers, and tarps!

For more information on the “Free Compost” events or the City’s Backyard Compost program go to www.chulavistaca.gov/sustainability and click on the “Home Composting” link.