From the Publisher

Walk your talk

by Chris Klein
spend so much time in these pages encouraging, cajoling and - hopefully - inspiring others to action, that I thought it might be a fair turnabout to share some of what I've been doing for the environment this past year.
Composting. Some time ago we purchased a composting bin, a one-yard black cube. I remember the thick, rich, black compost, swimming with earthworms, that my uncle Jack used to spread on his garden. I couldn't wait.
But after about three months of dutifully putting our vegetable trimmings and yard wastes in the bin, I was puzzled that the level of waste in the bin didn't seem to be getting much higher. The puzzle was solved one night when I investigated a noise coming from the bin. I think the possum was as surprised as I was. It seems that the local wildlife - possums, skunks and mice - had dug a freeway under the bin. So ... I guess we don't have a composting bin, we have a wildlife feeding station.
Water. Our most dramatic results have been in the area of water conservation. Since my wife Carolyn and I moved into our current house, we've installed two low-flow toilets (in '93 and '94) and a low-flow shower head (about 6 months ago). In our yard, I recently completed installing a drip watering system, have removed most of the sprinklers, and added a more sophisticated timer.
According to our water bill, these changes have reduced our water usage from about 395 gallons per day (average, May - Oct '93) to 219 gallons per day (Sept/Nov '94). That's a reduction of 45 percent, and 43 percent below the 1989 residential average. This saves about 5,300 gallons of water a month, and me about $20. (If I understand my bill correctly, this lower water usage will result in lower sewer fees in July. We'll see.)
Recycling. We recycle all of our newspaper, aluminum and metal cans, glass bottles and #1 and #2 plastic bottles. I wish we had curb-side recycling, but we don't, so we haul it off to our local recycling center. (I hope the city expands the curb-side program some day.)
We were recycling paper - every room has paper recycling bins - but the market for mixed paper evaporated. Similarly, we were recycling polyfoam ("Styro-foam"), but our local market has stopped taking it.
One recycling tip. Many restaurants use those polyfoam containers for to-go orders and for doggie-bag take-homes. If you eat out much, you can end up with a stack of containers. We wash these and put a supply in the trunk of our car. When we go into a restaurant, we take our own container for take-homes. With some care, you can get 4 - 5 uses before the polyfoam breaks.
Volunteering. I volunteer about 10 hours a week with San Diego Earth Day, helping run the office and produce events. Starting in February, as Earth Day approaches, this jumps to about 30 hours a week, March is just about full-time, and April is heavy overtime. I love it.
Most non-profit organizations are small, relying on the efforts of a few dedicated individuals. If your New Year's resolutions include making a difference in your community, find a non-profit that matches your commitments and give them an important gift - your time.