With 2018 in the past, it’s time to look forward by setting new year’s resolutions for 2019. Along with “take more vacations” or “get fit” consider adding “become a Watershed Warrior” to your list with these 7 ways to spark the watershed conservation movement for the new year.
- Take the Scenic Route: Seeing is believing, and you’ll learn what’s to love, and protect, by visiting one of Riverside County’s three watersheds. There are amazing sights to see and plenty of activities to take part in. Check out the watershed map on our website to help guide your trip.
- Watch Your Waste: Plan meals for the week so you buy just enough food and avoid having to throw any away. If you do find yourself with excess vegetables, search the Internet for new recipes for soups or stews. Compost any remaining food such as fruits or vegetables, avoiding meats, cheeses and dairy products.
- Don’t Be Trashy: Minimize the amount of trash you create by making a conscious effort to recycle and reuse. This includes bringing reusable straws to restaurants, reusable cups to order coffee, and even taking reusable totes to the grocery store.
- Take Care of Your Ride: We take vehicles for work and play every day, so make sure you’re keeping up with their maintenance to prevent oil leaks. Wash your car regularly with eco-friendly soaps and cleaners.
- Eco-Furry Companions: Don’t forget your pets when you’re making your resolutions. Picking up after your pet is an important step in protecting our watersheds. Carry a bag on walks with your dog to dispose of dog doo. #DooGood
- Volunteer Your Time: Time is a priceless contribution and volunteering your time to help clean our watersheds is invaluable. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for upcoming volunteer opportunities to help make a difference.
- Spread the Good Word: There’s strength in numbers, and the more people that make small changes in their lives towards a more sustainable lifestyle, the bigger impact it will have on our environment and watersheds. Tell a friend! Forward the newsletter! Share the tips we send!
Opening a gift clad in festive paper is part of the excitement of the season. Unfortunately, gift bags and wrapping paper contribute almost 4 million tons of waste a year. In fact, during the holiday season, household waste can increase up to 25%. A lot of that extra waste is from food, product packaging, wrapping paper and bows. Here are 3 ways you can celebrate a more sustainable holiday season:
- Reduce the Waste: Reducing the packaging of the gifts you buy reduces the waste. Items purchased from local craft fairs or thrift shops usually come with minimal packaging. Amazon offers toys and electronics with frustration-free packaging, which removes the extra packaging and makes it easy for you to unbox a give-ready gift. Stick a bow on the iconic smile box for an even easier wrapping job.
- Wrap Responsibly: Help reduce waste by wrapping responsibly. Instead of the sparkly snowflake wrapping paper that will just end up in the trash on Christmas morning, use newspaper, magazines, paper bags or old maps. Try wrapping gifts within another gift, such as a scarf, kitchen towels, or reusable tote bags.
- Give Experiences Not Excesses: Instead of getting your family member another pair of pajamas, give them the gift of an experience. Choose something they might not buy for themselves, like a pottery class, museum membership or gift certificate to a spa. Or get tickets for a movie or concert and tag along for an extra special memory.
A cornucopia – an overfilling horn of plenty – is an enduring symbol of Autumn, representing the bounty of harvest. Excess, however, can lead to waste which is often discarded, threatening the watersheds. Learn to enjoy all the fun of Autumn – colorful gourds, pretty chrysanthemums, Fall foliage and a Thanksgiving feast – without contributing to watershed pollution with these seasonal suggestions.
Leftover Halloween Jack-o-lanterns are a great addition to improve soil in your garden or lawn. Add to your compost pile or, if you don’t have one, simply dig a hole for Jack. Follow these instructions for best results:
- Remove candles or any other lights used inside.
- Clean out any remaining seeds or you may end up with your own pumpkin patch next year!
- Smash into smaller pieces. It’s not actually necessary but it sure is fun.
- Add those miniature white pumpkins or other decorative gourds when the December decorations come out.
Don’t Leave Out Leaves
All those fallen leaves raked into a pile are a magnet to small children who are eager to jump in! The raking is good exercise; the bouncing in the leaves is, too. The crackle of fresh leaves amid the laughter of youthful joy will create great memories with your kids or grand-kids. When the merriment is over, add those leaves to the compost pile to provides the carbon needed for healthy soil. Composting leaves means they don’t end up clogging storm drains or the watershed.
Whittle Out Waste
Cooking a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings may be an overwhelming task but dealing with food waste from your holiday feast doesn’t have to be. As you wield the paring knife, throw potato peels, green bean ends, onion skins and apple cores into the compost pile, not the trash. These leftover bits will add nitrogen for a thriving soil addition. To reduce waste while cooking and keep it out of the landfill and watershed, follow these simple instructions to compost:
- Keep a large mixing bowl on the counter for cut off ends and peelings as you prep the meal.
- Separate vegetable end pieces and peels that can be reused to create homemade vegetable stock later.
- Reconsider peeling root vegetables like beets, carrots and potatoes. Once these vegetables are cooked, you might not notice the “flaws” you usually peel away.
- Do not add any meat or dairy scraps.
- Combine food waste with used paper towels and cardboard food mix boxes before tossing into compost pile.
Check out this article for more tips on dealing with waste from the Thanksgiving feast.
Chemicals in typical household cleansers can lead to headaches, respiratory problems and eye irritation. A simple solution is to ditch the products with harsh ingredients and find natural harmless alternatives. Mixing up natural cleansers for your spring cleaning tasks – and everyday cleaning – can be better for your family, your wallet and the watersheds.
- Embrace Homemade Sprays: You can clean everything from mirrors and windows to sinks and tubs with mixtures made from vinegar, baking soda and citrus fruits like lemon or lime (or their essential oils). Books, blogs and websites abound on natural cleaning products that can give you the recipes and the confidence to get you started.
- Tee Up Dust Rags: Drop the paper towels and dig into the back of the closet. An old worn out tee shirt can be cut into several soft rags. The cotton content will pick up dust, buff up furniture and protect your wood finishes. Toss gently used rags into the washing machine for re-use. Discard the grimy ones and recycle another tee shirt!
- Ditch the Dryer Sheets: Vinegar and your favorite essential oil added to the wash cycle will help keep clothes soft and static free.
- Polish from Scratch: Store-bought furniture polish often has waxy ingredients that create unwanted buildup. A great alternative instead is to make your own with olive oil, distilled white vinegar, and lemon juice.
Did you know that you can negatively affect the watersheds from your home? Some basic household products we use can do more harm than good if not managed properly. Here are three household items that you probably didn’t realize can damage our watersheds:
Weeds and harmful insects can damage lawns and gardens so the home gardener often reaches for pesticides as a solution. Unfortunately, through rainfall or irrigation runoff, pesticides flow into storm drains and aren’t treated before emptying into the watershed. A better solution is choosing natural products such as cayenne pepper to deter pests and using mulch to combat weeds.
Batteries power our clocks, smoke alarms, tv remotes, flashlights and other useful household items. When it’s time to replace them, whether it’s AA or 9 volt, don’t just toss them! Batteries that end up in the landfill leach toxic chemicals and heavy metals into the ground over time, which contaminates the watershed. Collect used batteries in a shoe box or other non-metal container, store in a well-ventilated closet or cupboard, then recycle at your favorite home improvement store.
- Water Bottles
Drinking water is a healthy habit but how you choose to drink that water could be unhealthy for the watershed. Disposable plastic bottles from the market are quick, convenient and inexpensive when purchased in bulk. Unfortunately, the average person ends up throwing away 21 lbs of plastic this way. Not only does this discarded plastic consume space in a landfill, where more than 400 years will pass before it biodegrades, but this approach requires that more plastic bottles be made. A good answer is to recycle all your plastic bottles so they can be reused in other products. The best solution, however, is to use a reusable water bottle to quench your thirst and skip the plastic altogether!
DROP off your hazardous waste and SHOP for free products! Stop by our Drop & Shop reuse stores to pick up FREE products for your next home or vehicle maintenance task. All products are inspected and made available to other customers for FREE. Most products are in good condition and sometimes even unopened! Availability of free products varies, but may include: paint, cleaners, pool, spa, lawn care and automotive products. Accepted household hazardous waste varies per location, see below for details.
See the Household Hazardous Waste flyer for addresses and hours.