Earth Day, Earth Month and year-round care for our planet
By David Goldstein 04/25/2013
Earth Day wrap up
We should honor our planet every day, but April 22 was designated as the 43rd annual Earth Day internationally. The occasion reminds people worldwide how much we depend on the earth for resources, and how the earth’s ecosystem depends on us for protection. Congratulations to the organizers of successful Earth Day events that took place this month: Oxnard Earth Day, April 6, Plaza Park, organized by city staff; Thousand Oaks Arbor/Earth Day, April 13, at Conejo Creek Park North, organized mainly by city staff; Simi Valley Arbor Day Celebration, April 16, at Rancho Tapo Community Park, organized by the city of Simi Valley Environmental Services Department and the city’s Tree Advisory Board; Ojai Earth Play, April 20, Oak Grove School, organized mainly by school volunteers and the Ojai Valley Green Coalition; Ventura Earth Day Eco Fest: April 20, Ventura beachfront Seaside/Promenade Park and Surfers Point Boardwalk, organized by the Ventura Charter School of Arts and Global Education; and Camarillo Community Gardens Earth Day, April 20, First Baptist Church, organized mainly by volunteers associated with the community garden provided by the Camarillo First Baptist Church.A special “Green Tom Sawyer” award should go to Friends of Channel Coast State Parks and California State Parks officials who organized an environmental version of the white- washed fence extravaganza described in Mark Twain’s famous novel. Organizers of this innovative Earth Day event recruited 124 volunteers, divided them into six work teams and led them in the completion of various improvements at San Buenaventura State Beach. While most Earth Day celebrations involved music, dance, food and fun (and also lots of learning, we hope), these “celebrants” picked up trash, weeded, planted and landscaped. Afterward, participants thanked organizers for the opportunity to help.
www.earthdaycamarillo.com/fbc-community-garden-earth-day, www.toaks.org/government/depts/public_works/environmental/events/arbor_earth_day_2012.asp, www.simivalley.org/treeadvisoryboard, ojaiearthplay.org, www.venturaearthday.org, www.friendsofccsp.org
a year-round program
in Ventura County
One way to honor the earth this month is to prevent water pollution by participating in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day this Saturday, April 27, organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to provide opportunities nationwide for convenient and safe disposal of medications. Here in Ventura County, pharmaceutical collection programs operate year-round, so local partners of the DEA participate in Drug Take-Back Day by informing the public why unused drugs must be safely discarded and reminding people of safe disposal options.
Leftover medications provide opportunities for abuse by thieves or curious children, and improperly disposed medications can pollute water. Some people flush drugs down drains, but wastewater treatment facilities are seldom equipped to remove the full range of pharmaceuticals before discharging to waterways. Even in diluted amounts, pharmaceuticals can harm fish, and sometimes the residue of discarded drugs can even enter drinking water supplies.
Fortunately, Ventura County residents can safely dispose most unwanted medication at free household hazardous waste collection facilities (see links below), and drugs containing narcotics can be legally handled by law enforcement officers, licensed pharmacists or prescribing physicians.
You can also legally discard most drugs in your curbside garbage cart by using “trash tricks” to avoid problems: Mix in water and salt, dirt or ashes. Disguise medical packaging inside an outer container. Keep on the safety caps, and wrap containers in tape.
On the net:
www.citizenscampaign.org/campaigns/pharmaceutical-disposal.asp, www.mindfully.org/Water/Wastewater-Contaminants-US-StreamsMar02.htm, www.nodrugsdownthedrain.org, www.wasteless.org/HHWevents, www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/takeback, blogs.discovermagazine.com/discoblog/2008/12/02/prozac-ocean-fish-absorb-our-drugs-and-suffer-for-it
Another way to take action for the environment is to use your water more intelligently.
Water from your clothes washer can be used to water flower beds and shrubs. This is called using graywater, and following rules and guidelines can make such reuse safe. The Ventura County Building and Safety Division will hold graywater workshops this summer to teach smart and simple ways you can use graywater at your home, without a permit.
These workshops will cover a simple system, called a laundry graywater disposal system, that can distribute graywater from a residential clothes washer to your landscaping. By following 12 simple rules outlined in a standard plan, installation of this system can happen with relative ease and low cost. Visit www.ventura.org/RMA/build_safe/pdf/graywater-workshop.pdf.
Here are some simple rules to remember about graywater systems: Never allow graywater to flow out to the open ground. Doing so is unsafe and potentially harmful to the environment and people. Never use it for watering low-to-the-ground food-producing plants such as strawberries or root plants such as beets. It is OK to water fruit trees with graywater. Please contact the Ventura County Building and Safety Division at 654-2771 for additional information or if you have any questions.
The Eye on the Environment column is a public service of the Ventura County Public Works Agency. Nonprofits and public agencies wanting to have a topic covered should contact David Goldstein at firstname.lastname@example.org