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[Environment]

Keep San Diego Green

By Christie Bartlett
of sandiegolovesgreen.com

The days are longer, school is out and we find ourselves spending more time outside. Whether it’s playing with our dogs at OB dog beach, hiking up Cowles Mt., body surfing at Moonlight Beach, or walking and biking through our many diverse neighborhoods there are many ways we spend our summer days outside.

We enjoy these activities not only because the weather is great here but also because the water is relatively clean, the trails and parks are easily accessible and we can breathe the clean air effortlessly. Our wonderful environment is possible with considerable effort. With over 3 million people in San Diego County it is becoming more challenging to maintain clean, natural open spaces we can all enjoy without long term consequences.

We have an obligation to keep our beaches, parks, trails and neighborhoods clean and accessible not just for ourselves but also for our children’s future. Our communities do not clean themselves and we can’t rely on the notion that it is someone else’s job to help keep San Diego clean and healthy.

This message spoke clearly to me today when I sat in my office looking out my window watching people eat their lunch in the small urban park across from my window. This area was created specifically for local office workers to enjoy on their lunch hour. There are a few benches and trash cans available and the landscaping is beautiful and well maintained.

I noticed a silver diet soda can lying on the ground near one of the benches. The sunlight made it particularly shiny and I watched throughout the lunch hour at least six people walk right past this can and not take the effort to simply bend over & pick it up and put it in the trash can nearby. Lastly, a young woman walked by it but then stopped after a few feet and turned around and went back to pick it up and throw it into the trash can. It was interesting to see that it didn’t automatically register for her when she first saw the can to pick it up but she couldn’t just walk away from it either.

Many of us have done the same thing. We get lost in our thoughts or so busy to get to the next thing or destination that we forget to notice and take stock of our environment. The additional time and effort is minimal but it requires us to change our habits and routine.

Many of us take for granted the natural beauty that surrounds us. We’re fortunate that San Diego has:

-Over 17 state parks and protected areas
-6 rivers
-Over 230 mountain peaks and summits
-Over 25 bays, lakes and lagoons
-Countless canyons, mesas and beautiful backcountry

If you’ve traveled to some foreign urban cities you realize how bad the water, land and air can get with so many people sharing the same resources without regard to long term consequences. We need to stop walking past our environment thinking that someone else will take care of it and ensure that we have beautiful clean natural future.

If you enjoy San Diego’s outdoor beauty here are a just a few simple ways you can contribute to help keep it clean and green:

Reduce water waste – we live in a desert environment and it won’t last forever. You think the politics surround oil is bad wait until we start running out of clean potable water.

Plant drought resistant lawns and shrubs.

Don’t use your toilet as a trash can. Flushing away your trash wastes gallons of water.

Install low flow faucets and water-saving shower heads.

Don’t run the faucet while brushing your teeth.

Pick up litter – recycle everything that you can. Much of it will end up in our waterways if not disposed of properly. Here is a list of what you can and cannot recycle in the City of San Diego: http://www.sandiego.gov/environmental-services/recycling/pdf/recycguide.pdf

When hiking remember these two rules – pack it in and pack it out and leave no trace.

Donate – Donate time and money to a local organization. The San Diego Chapter of Surfrider Foundation works hard to keep our coastlines clean and accessible to all. http://sandiego.surfrider.org/.

Donate time and money to help maintain our trails and parks.

Just a five dollar donation can make a difference.

Use Your Power – Knowledge is power. Take some time to educate your children, friends and co-workers on the importance of recycling, conserving water and protecting our environment.

Write your local elected officials when it comes to legislation that will have an impact on our environment.

Use the power of your wallet to buy local, organic and earth-friendly products. Shop at businesses that promote sustainable earth-friendly business practices.

For more tips on how to keep San Diego green and beautiful visit San Diego Loves Green at SanDiegoLovesGreen.com.

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Christy Bartlett is one of three partners at SanDiegoLovesGreen.com, San Diego’s online green and sustainability portal with articles, news, events and green business listings. San Diego Loves Green is in the process of reinventing the look and features of the website and welcomes input from the community on how they can better provide services that make our community more economically and environmentally sustainable. Please watch in the coming months as they introduce a platform for bartering and developing a local currency! Please write to Dawn@sandiegolovesgreen.com with your ideas and suggestions.

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