What do we want? Less garbage to landfill.
When do we want it? Now!
On Friday, September 16, Loyola Elementary School, with the help of the Boy Scouts and GreenTown Los Altos, embarked on a new waste reduction program.
Rashee Rohatgi, Loyola parent and chair of Green Loyola, spearheaded that initiative last year working with prospective Eagle Scout, Evan Marshall,
in designing and building good-looking and functional waste bins for the school. GreenTown worked
with Los Altos School District and district waste company, Recology, to create signs that clearly indicate which materials go in which bin.
Principal Kimberly Attell and GreenTown Leadership Team member, Margie Suozzo, kicked off the program at a school-wide morning assembly on the morning of September 16, helping the kids learn what materials go where. GreenTown volunteers helped monitor the stations during that Friday’s lunch period.
“Helping kids learn to do the right thing for the environment is always rewarding,” said Gloria Geller,
one of GreenTown’s volunteers. Ms. Rohatgi organized teams of students donning “planet protector” t-shirts to monitor the bins during the following week. This is the first of a series of schools that GreenTown is working with to ensure a more robust waste management system and divert even more waste from being “landfilled”.
On the morning of Sept. 17, 2016, GreenTown Los Altos volunteers contributed to the County’s Coastal Cleanup Day effort, organized by the Santa Clara Valley Water District.
From less than a mile of Permanente Creek behind Heritage Oaks Park, about 30 volunteers removed 8.4 pounds of trash, 13.4 pounds of glass, 3.4 pounds of mixed recyclables, and 4.2 pounds of compostable materials.
Special thanks to Christina Cerny, , Girl Scout troop leader, and Brownies of Troop 61172 for their efforts.
Countywide, in just 3 hours, a record number of 1,883 volunteers cleaned 60.75 miles of our local waterways and removed 55,010 pounds of trash. That’s the weight of 19 Prius cars! They also removed 6,442.7 pounds of recyclables that did not end up in landfill.
Special thanks to Joanne McFarlin of GrassRoots Ecology for the educational and engaging Enviroscape activity.
Native plant gardens come in many flavors and what’s called meadow landscaping is becoming popular for many reasons. You can find out more at a talk, Oct. 27, 7PM at the Los Altos Library. The talk summary follows:
Homeowners throughout our area are discovering the many benefits of meadow landscaping. Fill your yard with color, texture, movement and wildlife. Low maintenance meadows provide year round enjoyment for the family and sustenance for beneficial species in our environment. Songbirds, butterflies, pollinators and other beneficial species rely on native plants for their survival.
Speaker: John Greenlee
An expert in grass ecology and champion of sustainable design, John Greenlee, author of, “The American Meadow Garden” and “The Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses”, has created beautiful meadows throughout California.
Sponsored by GreenTown Los Altos, Purissima Hills Water District, California Water Service, Open Space Committee of Los Altos Hills, and Santa Clara Valley Water District.
On Oct. 1, an event called “Bay Day” was held to build awareness and appreciation for San Francisco Bay located at the heart of our 9-county Bay Area. It was the first of what will hopefully be an annual “Bay Day” event.
One organizer summed it up nicely, “Bay Day is like Earth Day, only for the Bay.” Two of the 51 events held that day were local: a walk in the Palo Alto Baylands and a drop-in event and photo exhibit after that.
Bay Day Walk
The 1.6 mile walk included stops at Lucy Evans Nature Center, the Environmental Volunteers EcoCenter, and Byxbee Park. With birdwatchers, photographers, a family and tech savvy locals in tow, we comfortably navigated the trails. Thank you to The City of Palo Alto, Junior Museum & Zoo (for bringing out Sequoia the bald eagle) and the Environmental Volunteers (EcoCenter), and to both organizations for staffing these facilities that morning.
We enjoyed the educational environmental displays at the EcoCenter, and looking down and through the “window” in the floor where you can see the Bay underneath.
After the walk, there was a Drop-In Bay Day event at Keeble & Shuchat Photography in conjunction with “Walking the Bay 2” photo exhibit. The exhibit included pictures taken from the Bay Trail from all 9 counties, and included shots from Palo Alto and Mountain View baylands. People dropped by to look at photos, pick up coloring sheets, ask questions about parks and walks, and read info about local environmental organizations.
Upstream from the Bay, GreenTown volunteers are doing creek cleanups and water monitoring, helping to keep the Bay healthy. The baylands and trail systems serve as a great way to improve health and well-being.
The Bay Trail, especially when connected to the Stevens Creek and other trails, can also provide a scenic, alternative commute to and from work. And commuting by bike can help cut down on vehicle miles traveled and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Measure AA’s passage will help continue to provide funds to improve infrastructure, trails, etc. along the Bay/Bay Trail.
Overall, a fun, educational event that we hope to continue for years to come.
by Arnold Ambiel
It’s fall. Some people are ready to roll, but we hope even more are ready to stroll!
Fall is a perfect time to walk in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Cooler days bring out bold fall colors making walking to many local events attractive. Unlike bicycling, most walking activities can start right out our front doors and enjoyed by anyone from 8 to 80.
Wherever you live, you can walk to one of our community’s seven shopping districts, local parks and schools to enjoy the outdoor beauty. If you’re a new resident, the City’s Bike Map is a useful resource which includes secret passageways that join many of our neighborhoods and make great fodder for a tricky treasure hunt!
Have you noticed political candidates walking in your neighborhood? With election season in full swing, such precinct walks highlight the best way to get to know your neighbors and build community: walking! Make sure to ask the candidates how they’ll support our local environment, if elected. Additionally, our neighborhood schools are an easy walk for most residents. And this year is a special year for walking to school – the 20th anniversary of Walk to School Day – so make sure you walk with your child on October 5th!
We asked Wes Brinsfield, BPAC Chairperson his take. “While the physical and mental health benefits of walking are well documented, what I really enjoy about walking in the Los Altos area is the sense of community that I feel. It’s so easy to meet and talk with people – friends and strangers alike – while walking through our Los Altos neighborhoods. Our city is mostly flat, mostly warm and sunny during the days, and there are lots of things to see and do within 1 to 2 miles of almost any starting point within the city limits”.
Join the fun! Events to walk by:
Oct 1 – Bay Day Walk
Oct 1/2 – Los Altos Fall Festival – Walk/Bike to Downtown
Oct 5 – 20th Annual Walk to School Day
Oct 7 – First Friday
Oct 15 – Walkathons – Many of our local elementary schools hold their walkathon fundraisers on October 15. There are a lot of tired feet in our towns that night.
Oct 21 – Homecoming Parade – Los Altos High School
Oct 31 – Halloween (watch for all the walkers that night!)
Resources for where to walk
City of Los Altos Bicycle Map (includes all of the secrets passages between neighborhoods)
Los Altos Hills Pathways Map (purchase at LAH City Hall)
City of Los Altos Pedestrian Master Plan – with suggested routes to school
Bay Trail Map
Mid Peninsula Open Space Maps
Each year for the last three years, GreenTown has held an annual fundraiser in October. Year after year it has surpassed our expectations. Besides being a high energy, fun party with environmentally savvy people the catering is superb and wine abundant! What more could you ask for?
This year, the event will be held on Oct. 22, 5-8pm at a lovely private home in Los Altos. The Farm to Table dinner is our only major fundraiser. Which is why we’re hoping we can break all records for attendance. Your participation at the event helps sustain and grow GreenTown’s environmental impact in our community. Are you wondering such as what? Here’s part of this year’s results:
Water: Spread the word about the drought
- Conducted two educational creek cleanups
- Hosted speakers on a range of topics
- Led a native garden bike tour.
Waste: Increased landfill diversion through education
- Worked with four Los Altos schools to improve their waste management and maximize diversion from the landfill.
Watts: Made clean energy a reality!
- Heavily advocated for a locally-controlled clean energy agency. This new energy choice program, has committed to providing 100% carbon free electricity to all homes and businesses in the region, including yours! Look for more info in Spring 2017.
WoW!: Encouraged more biking | walking | public transit
- Upped our educational efforts on bike safety,
- Supported development of a pilot bike safety education program in Los Altos School District and sponsoring Bike Day! on the green this August.
- Provided gently-used bikes to under served youth in Mountain View and San Jose.
- Staffed bike parking to make it easier for you to bike to events around town.
We know you support, and want these activities to continue. So join us at this year’s Farm to Table Dinner to demonstrate your support. Reserve your space here.
If you are unable to attend, please join us by donating (any amount is appreciated) and/or volunteering your time.
From the blender bikes churning out smoothies to the Safe Moves Bike Rodeo. From ABC (air, bike, chain) safety checks to checking out an easy to build bamboo bike, Bike Day was nothing short of a fun day. These pictures tell the story!
A message from Santa Clara Valley Water District:
If you have noticed an earthy smell in your tap water, we want you to know that we are aware of it and are working to correct the odor that, while unpleasant, does not pose a health concern.
The smell is affecting parts of Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Campbell, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Mountain View, Los Altos and Los Gatos, and to a lesser extent south San Jose, and is purely aesthetic. Our water still meets or surpasses drinking water standards.
The earthy odor is caused by geosmin, a compound produced by algae that has recently bloomed in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the San Luis Reservoir, where the water district gets more than half of the water it supplies to northern Santa Clara County. Geosmin is not an algal toxin, so the safety of the water is not impacted. However, the human nose is very sensitive to geosmin: some people can smell it at extremely low levels – as low as 1.3 parts per trillion (ppt). Levels up to 48 ppt have been measured in the source water and treated water.
At present, we expect the intense geosmin odor to subside in a few days as the water already in the distribution system works its way out. We have changed the source of water at our Rinconada and Santa Teresa water treatment plants to a local reservoir that has not been affected by the same odor. We are also increasing treatment at our three water treatment plants to rid our treated water of the unpleasant smell.
As we work to mitigate geosmin’s effect on our water, customers who do experience a taste or odor can chill their tap water before drinking in order to make taste and smell issues less noticeable. It is not necessary to boil water as the water is safe to drink and meets all state and federal public health standards.
The water district will strive to improve the taste and smell of the water in this unusual time. We put the highest priority on providing safe, clean water to Santa Clara County.
Learn more about taste and odor issues at http://valleywater.org/Services/TasteAndOdorFacts.aspx
If pictures tell a story, these scream happiness. The kids and staff at the staff at Theuerkauf School, recipients of some of the bikes we collected at the reCYCLE Bike Drive in May.
Thanks to the Los Altos Community Foundation for funding the drive. The bikes you deliver to GreenTown at the reCYCLE Bike Drive, to fix, clean up and send to those who could use a set of wheels are making some kids very happy.
So keep that in mind next time you’re cleaning out any unused bikes in good shape. Deliver it to us, and you’ll be delivering smiles!
The good news came on June 14 at the Santa Clara Valley Water District meeting. They set a 20% target for water reduction and reinstated rebates.
At the meeting, the SCVWD lowered its water use reduction target from 30% to 20% under 2013 levels. The Board emphasized that residents should continue their efforts to conserve.
On July 1, 2016 the SCVWD will reinstate the Landscape Rebate Program and the Irrigation Equipment Upgrade Rebates. If you’d like to know more, find details here.
We have to ask why take such action? The drought continues although it was eased by last winter’s rainfall. Local reservoirs and percolation ponds are close to full, however, our groundwater levels have not recovered.
In Santa Clara County, our groundwater aquifers are our largest source of water storage. This helps us to get through dry summers and drought. After pulling 100,000 acre-feet of water from our aquifers in 2014 and 2015, we ended 2015 with 232,000 acre-feet. In drought terms, this is Stage 3: Severe. Above 300,000 is normal and before the latest drought we had 340,000-350,000 acre-feet in groundwater aquifers.
So we still urge residents to do what they can to conserve. Like attending local events such as Sherri Osaka‘s talk July 21, 7-8:30PM at the Mountain View Library.
The talk, sponsored by the California Native Plant Society entitled “Design-It-Youself: Native Plant Garden”, has a clear focus: “You are finally ready to remove your lawn in order to save water, lower maintenance time and create habitat. But you want to create the design yourself. Come to this talk, and learn the principles of garden design. See an example of a design from start to finish. Pick up some handouts of different designs you can use and modify. And get ready to put pencil to paper!”
And look to GreenTown for more ideas flowing your way!