Sustainable Living to Save the Earth

In honor of Earth Day, officially designated as April 22, the City of Thousand Oaks hosts its 20th Annual Thousand Oaks Arbor/Earth Day Celebration to educate the public about living sustainably year-round.

“We want to impress upon people what a beautiful world we have and how we all have to do our part to help keep our environment clean and safe for future generations,” says Jana Covell, committee chair of the event.

Presented by the City of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Recreation and Park District, the Earth Day event takes place at Thousand Oaks Community Park.

“The latest information to go green will be found at this event,” Covell says.

“Whether you want to know about climate change, local wildlife, recycling or why we need to keep our trees alive, this is the event to attend.”

The celebration will feature approximately 100 vendors and exhibitors, including garden clubs with plants for sale and companies with information about solar panels.

Richard Elsley will be in attendance to raise awareness of the Conejo Valley chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby, a grassroots, non-partisan organization with 55,000 members in the United States and Canada.

“Our goal is to convince our governments to pass legislation that will stop climate change,” Elsley explains. “The first step is to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we emit into the atmosphere. We are harnessing the political will of our population to build a livable world for our grandchildren.”

Leah Haynes will be on hand to discuss the University of California Master Gardener Program of Ventura County. This program provides science-based gardening education and community outreach, with a goal to enhance the overall well-being of people, plants and the environment.

“Master Gardeners are certified volunteers who extend horticultural knowledge to home gardeners,” says Haynes. “These volunteers play a vital role in providing the local public with non-biased gardening information.”

Additional Earth Day highlights include compost workshops and opportunities to chat with representatives from local environmental groups. There will also be an environmental art show featuring art created by local students and school groups.

“For entertainment, local resident Brooke White, an American Idol finalist, will headline the event,” Covell says. “We will also provide children’s crafts with recycled materials, food vendors and more.”

Green Your Lifestyle

The annual event coincides with the city’s efforts to educate the public year-round about ways to go green at home.

“There are a variety of things residents can do at home, at work, or at school to help reduce their impact on the environment and live a sustainable lifestyle,” says Rod Cordova, assistant analyst in the sustainability division for the City of Thousand Oaks.

According to Cordova, the following simple changes in routine and behavior can make a big difference:

Reduce: Limit single-use consumer goods and instead choose durable/washable/reusable water bottles, grocery bags, lunch containers, dinnerware and utensils, hand towels/napkins. When shopping, buy in bulk when possible, and choose products made from recycled content and with less packaging.

Recycle: Recycle paper, aluminum and metal, such as junk mail, newspapers, cereal boxes, beverage containers, tin cans, glass containers and jars. All plastics numbered 1-7 can be placed in your recycle bin (look for the recycling symbol).

Conserve Water: Install low-flow water fixtures in toilets, shower heads and faucets. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shaving. Turn off the sprinklers during periods of rain, and replace traditional sprinkler systems with drip irrigation systems. Replace turf and water-hungry vegetation with drought-tolerant landscaping. Collect rain water with a rain barrel or install a grey water system, and use the water for your garden and flower beds. Sweep driveways and hardscapes instead of using water.

Save Energy: Turn off the lights when exiting a room. Choose energy-efficient appliances and lightbulbs. Turn off or unplug appliances and electronic devices when they’re not in use. Resort to natural sunlight when possible.

Prevent Pollution: Cut back on driving your car by taking public transportation, walking or riding a bike. Avoid harmful fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and instead use organic alternatives. Properly dispose of household hazardous waste like motor oil, paint, batteries, solvents, pesticides and chemicals at your local hazardous waste collection event or facility.

Compost: Food scraps and landscape waste can be composted at home and turned into a nutrient-rich soil amendment for your garden and flower beds.

Repair: Fix items when they break or need repair to extend their life and reduce waste. These items include clothing, appliances, electronics, bicycles and sporting equipment. There are many online resources, such as YouTube, to help you do it yourself. You can also check out online “repair cafes” in which people share tools and knowledge on how to repair common consumer and household goods.

Take Action: Buy locally farmed fruits and vegetables or start a garden and grow your own. Dispose of trash responsibly and pick up litter when possible. Donate unwanted or gently used clothing, toys, books and electronics to thrift stores and charitable organizations. Print on both sides of paper. Use rechargeable batteries. Carpool or rideshare when possible. Consolidate errands into fewer trips. Make sure car tires are properly inflated. Hang dry laundry. Plant a tree.

“These are just a few ways residents can green their home and lifestyle,” Cordova says. “There are many other ways to reduce their environmental impacts.”

For more eco-friendly tips and resources, visit TOaks.org/Departments/Public-Works/Sustainability.