Policy Statement And Program Listing
December 5, 2006
The City of Sebastopol is dedicated to the enhancement and protection of the immediate and long-term wellbeing of the City, its citizens, and its natural environment. Sebastopol, while a very small City, is at the forefront of nation-wide efforts to implement new technologies and address critical environmental policy issues, which take on particular urgency in light of serious global environmental concerns.
With its limited resources and substantial responsibilities, the challenge facing the City is how to maintain the core water, wastewater, circulation, public safety, and recreation services that are the reason for its existence, while protecting and enhancing Sebastopol’s environmental quality, economy, and livability. Even with its constrained resources, the City has been proactive in addressing sustainability in its own operations, as well as furthering that goal with progressive public policies. The list below highlights some of the policies and programs which help to move the City toward its goal of making Sebastopol a model of sustainability, as well as to inspire individuals and organizations to participate in this objective.
Cities and Sustainability
By concentrating goods, services, knowledge and culture, cities are an environmentally responsible form of human ecology that are an essential component of civilization. Cities generally can fulfill water, sewer, transportation, communication, education, security, and cultural functions more efficiently and with less energy requirements or other adverse impacts than rural or suburban development. Supporting and improving city development and sustainability thus becomes increasingly important in an era of growing demands on limited resources and accelerating concerns about global environmental issues. This may entail a challenging public process to balance a variety of issues, needs and impacts, which encompass not only local, but regional and global factors. Sebastopol’s commitment to sustainability occurs within this context.
The United Nations World Commission on Environment and Development defined ‘sustainability’ as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Sebastopol, as part of a region, nation, and world, has limited ability to address or control macro-level environmental, social, and economic forces. But within the sphere of its control, and within the context of its core service objectives, Sebastopol has made a commitment to responsible stewardship of its environmental, economic, and social resources, so that its exceptional quality of life for this and future generations is maintained and improved. It is the City’s hope that its initiatives will also inspire and inform others to make a similar commitment.
The Three E's
Integrated decision-making is essential to sustainability. A central principle of sustainability is the recognition of the interdependence of the environmental, economic, and social equity concerns—the ‘three E’s.’ The multiple factors and forces that must be considered highlight the need for strong collaboration and communication between public, private, and non-profit sectors, which is essential to progress.
The natural environment is fundamental to the concept of sustainability. Air, water, and land are the basis of our very lives. Economic activity contributes to our high quality of life, and in Sebastopol, supports City services, including public safety, water and wastewater services essential to public health, streets and sidewalks that provide vital access, and public parks for recreation and enjoyment of the environment. The concept of social equity reflects the understanding that we are a community with diverse composition and varying needs. Balancing these concerns is essential to Sebastopol’s concept of sustainability.
Guidelines for sustainable municipal policy developed by other jurisdictions have been adapted for Sebastopol, and include the following:
1. The Concept of Sustainability Guides City Policy
The City is committed to meeting its existing needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The long-term impacts of policy choices will be considered to ensure a sustainable legacy.
2. Protection, Preservation, and Restoration of the Natural Environment are High Priorities of the City
Sebastopol is committed to protecting, preserving and restoring the natural environment. City decision-making will be guided by a mandate to maximize environmental benefits and reduce or eliminate negative environmental impacts within the context of the City’s essential functions, planned development, and overall goals and responsibilities. The City will lead by example and encourage other community stakeholders to make a similar commitment to the environment.
3. Environmental Quality, Economic Health and Social Equity are Mutually Dependent
Sustainability requires that our collective decisions as a city allow our economy and community members to continue to thrive without destroying the natural environment upon which we all depend. A healthy environment is integral to the city’s long-term economic and societal interests. In achieving a healthy environment, we must ensure that inequitable burdens are not placed on any one geographic or socioeconomic sector of the population and that the benefits of a sustainable community are accessible to all members of the community.
4. All Decisions Have Implications to the Long-term Sustainability of Sebastopol
The City will ensure that each of its policy decisions and programs are interconnected through the common bond of sustainability as expressed in these guiding principles. The policy and decision-making processes of the City will reflect our sustainability objectives. The City will lead by example and encourage other community stakeholders to use sustainability principles to guide their decisions and actions.
5. Community Awareness, Responsibility, Participation and Education are Key Elements of a Sustainable Community
All community members, including individual citizens, community-based groups, businesses, schools and other institutions must be aware of their impacts on the environmental, economic and social health of Sebastopol, must take responsibility for reducing, eliminating, and balancing those impacts, and must take an active part in community efforts to address sustainability concerns. The City will therefore assist in education opportunities to support community awareness, responsibility and participation in cooperation with area schools, colleges and other organizations in the community.
6. Sebastopol Recognizes Its Linkage with the Regional, National, and Global Community
Local environmental, economic and social issues cannot be separated from their broader context. This relationship between local issues and regional, national and global issues will be recognized and acted upon in the City's programs and policies. This may involve balancing local issues with broader concerns. In addition, the City's programs and policies should be developed as models that can be emulated by other communities. The City will also act as a strong advocate for the development and implementation of model programs and innovative approaches by regional, state and federal government that embody the goals of sustainability.
7. Those Sustainability Issues Most Important to the Community Will be Addressed First, and the Most Cost-Effective Programs and Policies Will be Selected
The financial and human resources which are available to the City are limited. The City and the community will periodically reevaluate its priorities and its programs and policies to ensure that the best possible investments in the future are being made. The evaluation of a program's cost-effectiveness will be based on an analysis of the associated costs and benefits, including environmental and social costs and benefits.
8. The City is committed to Procurement Decisions which Minimize Negative Environmental and Social Impacts
The procurement of products and services by the City and Sebastopol residents, businesses and institutions results in environmental, social and economic impacts both in this country and in other areas of the world. The City will abide by an environmentally and socially responsible procurement policy that emphasizes long-term values and will become a model for other public as well as private organizations. The City will support other local agencies, businesses and residents adopting sustainable purchasing practices.
9. Cross-sector Partnerships Are Necessary to Achieve Sustainable Goals
Threats to the long-term sustainability of Sebastopol are multi-sector in their causes and require multi-sector solutions. Partnerships among the City government, businesses, residents, property owners and all community stakeholders are necessary to achieve a sustainable community.
Sustainable Sebastopol City Programs
A number of specific policies and programs that implement Sebastopol’s sustainability objectives are briefly outlined below, with some of the policies and programs linked to detailed information on other parts of the City web site. While not inclusive of all Sustainable Sebastopol policies and programs, this listing is intended to serve as a resource guide to the City’s efforts in working towards a sustainable Sebastopol, and will be periodically updated as the City initiates new programs or policies.
Leadership and Innovation
The Sebastopol City Council comprises the democratically-elected leadership of the Sebastopol community and the City organization. The Council sets broad policy, which is implemented by City boards and Commissions, and by City staff. The Council is committed to responsible City management, including maintenance and improvement of public health, safety, and general welfare, as well as implementation of innovative policies and programs that are prudent, cost-effective, and set an example for other organizations and individuals.
The City’s General Plan, often called the ‘constitution’ of local government, addresses a broad scope of issues, and sets policy in a variety of areas. Sebastopol’s General Plan includes a number of innovative policies, including promotion of infill developer to limit sprawl, allowance of mixed-use development, provision of a Growth Management Program, and policies supporting preservation and restoration of the Laguna de Santa Rosa wetlands. General Plan: General Plan
The City Council has endorsed a Strategic Plan for the City, which identifies key principles for City management. The Strategic Plan includes multiple goals promoting economic security and environmental quality. Strategic Plan: Strategic Plan
Communication and information is a critical requirement for a sustainable City. Detailed information resources may be accessed on the City’s public web site. The City also publishes a quarterly newsletter, distributed to all of its water/sewer customers, and also posted on the City web site. The City also provides a building for the County Library at no cost. The library functions as a major community knowledgebase. The News and Events page of the City web site may be accessed at: News and Events
The Sebastopol Branch Library resources may be accessed at www.sonoma.lib.ca.us.
Regular meetings of the City Council, Planning Commission, Business Outreach Committee, and Design Review Board are also forums for public communication on a variety of projects and policy issues. In addition, the City Council periodically sponsors town hall meetings for open discussion of major community issues.
The local economy generates the primary financial resources to pay for City operations. Without strong local economic activity, the City would not have the resources to provide for public safety, maintain streets and sidewalks, and provide public parks. Revenue restrictions from Proposition 13 and other State-wide initiatives have had a major negative effect on the City’s ability to generate revenue to maintain City services. Fostering of local economic development has therefore become ever more critical to the long-term sustainability of City operations. The City recognized the need for partnership with private businesses and area non-profits in forming the Business Outreach Committee, with representatives from local businesses and the Sebastopol Area Chamber of Commerce as well as City leadership. Business Outreach Committee: Business Outreach Committee
The City Community Development Agency (CDA) maintains a commitment to assisting with maintaining economic vitality and economic development in funding an Economic Development Specialist position housed at the Chamber of Commerce, as well as providing matching grant funds for a Façade Improvement Program to assist local businesses.
Sebastopol is very concerned with global climate change and has taken steps to do its part of address this issue. Sebastopol, with all the eight other cities in the Sonoma County, and the County itself have pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions as part of a worldwide effort led by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives - ICLEI. Never before in this country has an area had 100 percent of its municipalities make such a pledge. Cornell University researcher Bogdan Vasi noted that Sonoma County is in the midst of making history with its climate protection activities. For additional information about the progress of the GHG Inventory for Sebastopol and the other cities and County visit: www.skymetrics.us
Sebastopol has set ambitious goals, with the objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from City operations by 42% by the year 2010.
Resolution No. 5229 Endorsing Aims and Objective of the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign
Link to PowerPoint Presentation on GHG Program (pdf file) or Powerpoint file.
Water is fundamental to life. Provision of sufficient quantities of clean water is one of the most critical functions of the City of Sebastopol. Sebastopol is committed to conservation of its water resources, which come solely from groundwater. An expression of this commitment may be found in an aggressive new water and energy conservation ordinance. This Ordinance addresses specified water and energy conservation requirements for new construction, additions over 500 feet of floor area or greater, out-of-service area agreements, and annexations. The purpose of the Ordinance is to reduce overall per-capita water and energy use, to help ensure a sustainable water supply, limit energy use, and reduce pollution related to energy and water production. The ordinance is one of the most far-reaching set of requirements for new development in the nation.
Sebastopol has other water conservation programs, including a commercial washer rebate program, and rebates for replacement of high-water use toilets. Water Conservation Ordinance
Another City program is the Water Efficient Landscape Program (WELPO). This program has been adopted by the City to ensure efficient water use by establishing standards for landscape design appropriate to Sebastopol’s climate, soils, water resources, land use, and resource planning.
Like other water systems in California, Sebastopol is under a State mandate to provide clean and healthy water to its customers. Sebastopol has high-quality water which needs a minimum of treatment. Water is regularly tested, and water quality reports are regularly provided to the community: Consumer Confidence Report 07-01-06.pdf
Energy Conservation and Alternative Energy
Sebastopol has made a major commitment to energy conservation. Working with the Local Government Energy Program, Sebastopol conducted an audit of major energy uses, such as pumps, vehicles, buildings, and equipment. As a result, new, more efficient equipment is in place, reducing energy needs. This includes new trucks for the Public Works Department, energy-efficient replacement vehicles of the Police Department, solar panels installed at Ives Pool, the Public Works Department and the Fire Department, and new HVAC systems at the Library, City Hall, and Police Department.
In addition, the City adopted a resolution creating an Administrative Policy that requires City departments to evaluate their energy usage in their respective buildings and identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption. The policy also outlines on-going measures that are to be taken in such categories as building heating and cooling, lighting, upgrades and equipment, and conservation measures during emergencies.
The City is a partner with Solar Sebastopol to promote the installation of photovoltaic systems on buildings in Sebastopol. Through this program, the Sebastopol are has become one of the leaders on a per-capita basis for PV installations.
The City will also be evaluating the opportunity to participate in a Community Choice Aggregation program that will enable City residents to have a greater choice for alternative energy sources for their electrical power, and to increase local control of energy sources.
Sebastopol is blessed with excellent air quality. One of the areas where Sebastopol has taken the initiative is wood smoke. Wood smoke is a source of particulates that have been demonstrated to be a threat to human health. One of the initiatives taken by the City to maintain and improve local air quality is the passage of an ordinance that regulates the type of wood-burning appliances that may be installed and maintained within the City, and that bans the use of non-certified burning appliances after June, 2005. Woodsmoke ordinance: Woodsmoke Ordinance
Green Building Program
Conventional building practices consume large quantities of wood, plastic, metal, cardboard, paper, water, and other natural resources that lead, unnecessarily, to their depletion. The City of Sebastopol encourages the use of building design and construction that results in the conservation of resources and the reduction of toxic pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. To achieve this, the City has adopted the Green Building Program. The goal of this program is to provide information on alternative building design and construction techniques and materials that can be easily incorporated into all types of construction projects.
Exemplifying the City’s green building program, building permits were approved in 2005 by the City of Sebastopol for Sonoma County’s first-ever official ‘graywater’ system. Graywater systems are intended to reduce water use and wastewater generation by recycling water from sinks, showers and other sources. The graywater system of the 12-unit mixed-use “Florence Avenue Live-Work Project,” currently under construction at the intersection of Florence Avenue and Healdsburg Avenue, will divert wastewater from kitchen and bathroom sinks, showers and washing machines to a filtration and irrigation system to irrigate the project common area landscaping, primarily during dry weather. The estimated diversion of water to the graywater system would reduce wastewater flow from the project by approximately 17%. The Florence Avenue Live-Work Project will also include an array of photovoltaic panels, with the ambitious goal of meeting all of the electricity needs of the development. The City of Sebastopol City Council was willing to approve a non-traditional home design to accommodate the solar collectors, as well as the use of permeable paving and a bio-retention system to promote groundwater recharge and reduce storm water flows. The developer is seeking the highest level of LEED certification (Gold) for the development.
Sebastopol has one of the most innovative and progressive green building programs in the State of California. While ‘green building’ practices are encouraged by many jurisdictions, Sebastopol is one of just a few jurisdictions in the State that mandates a minimum level of performance through a flexible points system, where designers make the choices to achieve a level of energy and water conservation to achieve performance in excess of minimum Building Code requirements. Green Building Program
Parks, Open Space and Street Trees
One of the elements of a sustainable City is adequate urban parks and open space. Street trees also contribute to the local environments.
With development of the pending skate park/community garden park, Sebastopol will have nearly 29 acres of developed parkland. Principal parks include Ives Park, Libby Park, the Laguna Youth Park, and the Town Plaza, and the soon-to-be developed skate park and community garden park.
In addition, Sebastopol has developed the unique resource of the Laguna de Santa Rosa Wetlands Preserve, comprising approximately 75 acres of open space and trails. The Laguna is a premier bird watching area, and visitors may be lucky enough to spot other wildlife. The Preserve began as only an idea in the 1980’s and became a reality in the late 1990’s. Much of the land has been reclaimed from a former wastewater treatment plant, a City dump, and an industrial waste (from apple processing) disposal field. The Preserve has served as a model for Laguna Preservation throughout the Laguna watershed, which extends from Rohnert Park to the Russian River. Entrances to the Preserve are located behind the Youth Annex, and at the south end of the Sebastopol Community Center parking lot at 390 Morris Street in Sebastopol. There is a short walking trail that adjoins the Laguna channel, looping around the City’s former wastewater ponds. From late Spring to early Fall, a floating pedestrian bridge is in place that crosses the channel and connects to a longer trail that loops around Meadowlark Field, site for 50 years of an industrial waste disposal area for the local apple industry. Bluebird Trail traverses the field. The City has conducted extensive native plant restoration along the perimeter trail, and more recently has begun restoration efforts in the central part of Meadowlark Field. Laguna Preserve: Laguna Preserve
The Sebastopol Public Works Department maintains an extensive inventory of street trees on City streets. Trees can improve air quality, provide shade, assist in ‘calming’ traffic, and reduce the ‘urban heat island’ effect. The City also encourages property owners to plant trees in their front yards to beatify Sebastopol.
Sebastopol has also adopted a comprehensive Tree Protection Ordinance, which may be found in the Municipal Code. The ordinance establishes protection for significant trees on private property, while allowing a process for removal of trees that are diseased, dangerous, or causing property damage.
Sebastopol has also adopted policy promoting the use of biodegradeable materials in City planting projects:
Resolution No. 5222 Promoting the Use of Biodegradable Materials in Planting of City Owned Landscaping Areas
Toxics Reduction Programs
While recognizing that the use of manufactured substances is part of the modern world, Sebastopol is concerned about health and environmental impacts of toxic substances. In May of 1999, the Sebastopol City Council voted to establish Sebastopol as a Voluntary Toxics Free Zone. With this Resolution, the City has chosen to minimize use of herbicides and pesticides on City maintained property, and support reduction of pesticide use among residents, thus creating a healthier Sebastopol for everyone.
A key project that came from this is The Next STEP newsletter, which since 2001 has been mailed to residents in the City water bills and provides convenient and helpful information on toxics and alternatives. You can see past issues of this newsletter at http://ci.sebastopol.ca.us/page/toxics-education-program-step.
Resolution No. 5108 Creating a Voluntary Toxics Free Zone to Reduce the Use of Pesticides and other Toxic Chemicals in the City of Sebastopol
Resolution No. 5121 Requiring the Purchase of MTBE Free Gasoline for City Owned Vehicles
Sebastopol does not operate a transit system, but supports the operation of Sonoma County Transit in and around Sebastopol, and encourages its residents to use the transit system as an alternative to the automobile. In addition, Sebastopol supports alternative forms of transportation, including walking and bicycling, which reduce use of fossil fuels, as well as promoting personal health.
Sebastopol has created several programs to enhance its streets and sidewalks to promote alternative forms of transportation, as well as to increase public safety. The City of Sebastopol was the recipient of a $20,000 planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which the City matched with $5,000 of local funds. The purpose of this grant was to develop a schematic plan for action to improve traffic flow, safety, livability, and pedestrian and bicycle amenities for Sebastopol’s “Main Street”: the Highway 116 corridor in the City limits. The Street Smart Program resulted in construction of improved pedestrian crossings at the Joe Rodota Trail and Highway 116, at the Post Office, and at the Town Plaza on McKinley Street.
Sebastopol has also adopted a Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program designed to help neighborhoods identify and develop traffic safety measures in their neighborhoods.
Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program
Street Smart Sebastopol
Resolution No. 5246 Supporting Alternative Fueled Vehicles
Social Equity and Affordable Housing
While not a social service provider, Sebastopol has recognized the need for addressing social equity in a number of programs, including the Community Development Agency’s affordable housing programs, inclusionary housing program, a housing linkage fee for non-residential development, and a living wage ordinance.
Twenty percent of the income of the Community Development Agency is set aside for affordable housing programs. In recent years, these funds have been used for low-income housing rehabilitation loans, for purchasing sites for two major affordable housing developments on Covert Lane and Walker Avenue, for subsidies to a small affordable housing project, and for a loan to an affordable housing developer to help them purchase a site.
The purpose of the inclusionary housing ordinance is to enhance the public welfare and assure that further housing development within the City contributes to the attainment of the housing goals of the City of Sebastopol by increasing the production of units available to, and affordable by, households of lower incomes, in order to promote a balance of housing for all economic segments of the community, and to meet the need documented in the Sebastopol Housing Element and to comply with the housing law. 20% of new housing units are required to be affordable to low-income households.
The City adopted an affordable housing linkage fee for non-residential development. The purpose of this Ordinance and resultant additional chapter in the Municipal Code (3.64) is to (1) implement the goals and objectives of the General Plan Housing Element goals adopted by the City, (2) mitigate the housing impacts caused by new, changed, and expanded nonresidential development in the City, (3) provide a source of revenue for housing affordable to persons of very-low and low income, (4) and recognize the limited amount of affordable housing in the City of Sebastopol as part of County-wide problem. The fee is assessed on specified types of non-residential development, which generates a need for housing in Sebastopol. Proceeds are used to help provide affordable housing in Sebastopol.
Sebastopol is concerned about the erosion of living standards for those are the very bottom of the wage scale. The City adopted a Living Wage Ordinance that requires the City itself, and specified contractors to it to pay an adequate, living wage.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
Sebastopol has a long-standing commitment to waste reduction and recycling, adopting an ordinance requiring waste and recycling areas in all new development. In addition, Sebastopol has worked with its waste haulers to implement comprehensive recycling programs, making Sebastopol and other communities in Sonoma County leaders in waste reduction efforts. Sebastopol is a member of the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, which is responsible for all of the diversion programs that have enabled Sebastopol and the other Cities and County to meet AB 939 diversion goals. For more information: www.recyclenow.org
The Municipal Code includes requirements for recycling and waste collection areas in all new developments and significant expansions to existing developments in order to assist in the reduction of waste materials, thereby promoting environmentally sound practices and to prolong the life of the receiving land fill. See Chapter 17.224 of the Municipal Code.
Natural Disaster and Emergency Management
The City is committed to planning and preparing for emergency situations. Sebastopol has experienced natural disasters in the past, including earthquakes, fires, floods and severe winter storms. The Fire Department spearheads the City’s disaster management efforts.
Sebastopol has also adopted an Extended Electrical Power Outage Contingency Plan. During times of natural disaster, winter storms, electrical system malfunctions, or when electrical use exceeds the power grid serving the City of Sebastopol, power may be accidentally or purposely turned off. The following are actions that can be taken to insure basic city services are maintained and to assist the public in coping in the event of discontinuation of power. Extended Outage policy: Extended Outage Policy
Planning and Land Use
Sebastopol’s General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and Subdivision Ordinance set forth numerous policies, programs and standards that address sustainable development. The General Plan and a subsequent voter initiative locked in an Urban Growth Boundary that is intended to focus development inward, rather than promoting sprawl into rural and agricultural areas. This is a major part of Sebastopol’s efforts to promote sustainable development. In addition, development ordinances provide for the promotion of mixed-use development, reduced parking requirements in the downtown, a requirement for bicycle parking, and reduced street-width standards, among other progressive land use policies. See Planning.
Local Foods and Agriculture
While there are no commercial farming operations in the City limits, Sebastopol supports local agriculture through partnership with the local Farm Market, which is conducted during most of the year on Sundays at the Town Plaza. Sebastopol supports the concept of local foods, reducing transportation costs and pollution, as well as maintaining a more diverse local economy. The City also supports home gardens, and Sebastopol’s newest park, the skate park/community garden park, will have individual community garden plots for use by residents who may not be able to have a garden where they live.
What You Can Do
Together, we can make a difference. Following are actions from a variety of sources, including www.climatecrisis.net, that you can take to reduce energy use and pollution, live a more sustainable life, and reduce greenhouse gases.
Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (cfl).
CFLs use 60% less energy than a regular bulb. For every change-out, this simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds!
Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer.
Almost half of the energy we use in our homes goes to heating and cooling. You could save about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple adjustment. The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy has more tips for saving energy on heating and cooling.
Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner.
Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
Install a programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats will automatically lower the heat or air conditioning at night and raise them again in the morning. They can save you $100 a year on your energy bill.
Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases.
Look for the Energy Star label on new appliances to choose the most efficient models. If each household in the U.S. replaced its existing appliances with the most efficient models available, we’d eliminate 175 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year!
Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket.
You’ll save 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year with this simple action. You can save another 550 pounds per year by setting the thermostat no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use less hot water.
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. You can use less hot water by installing a low flow showerhead (350 pounds of carbon dioxide saved per year) and washing your clothes in cold or warm water (500 pounds saved per year) instead of hot.
Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible.
You can save 700 pounds of carbon dioxide when you air dry your clothes for 6 months out of the year.
Sebastopol’s solid waste collection service includes recycling and yard debris containers. Use them! The yard debris container can also be used for composting fruit and vegetables from your kitchen. Additional recycling information is available at www.recyclenow.org
Turn off electronic devices you’re not using.
Simply turning off your television, DVD player, stereo, and computer when you’re not using them will save thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them.
Even when turned off, things like hairdryers, cell phone chargers and televisions use energy. In fact, the energy used to keep display clocks lit and memory chips working accounts for 5 percent of total domestic energy consumption and spews 18 million tons of carbon into the atmosphere every year!
Consider a rain barrel.
Rain barrels can be connected to downspouts to collect rain water. Be sure to use appropriate design to prevent mosquito infestation.
Replace high-flow toilets with ultra-low flow fixtures.
Water is a precious resource. Its production and transport consumes substantial energy. Replacing older high-flow models can have a major impact on water consumption, and earn you a rebate from the City of Sebastopol. Check with the City Finance Department for details.
Try car sharing.
Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance.
Walk or bike to your destination.
For short trips to the store or to a friend’s, take a walk or ride your bike—it’s good for you and the earth!
Buy locally grown and produced foods.
The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.
Buy fresh foods instead of frozen.
Frozen food uses 10 times more energy to produce.
Seek out and support local farmers markets.
They reduce the amount of energy required to grow and transport the food to you by one fifth. You can find a farmer’s market in your area at the USDA website.
Buy organic foods as much as possible.
Organic soils capture and store carbon dioxide at much higher levels than soils from conventional farms. If we grew all of our corn and soybeans organically, we’d remove 580 billion pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere!
Avoid heavily packaged products.
You can save 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide if you cut down your garbage by 10%.
Eat less meat.
Methane is the second most significant greenhouse gas and cows are one of the greatest methane emitters. Their grassy diet and multiple stomachs cause them to produce methane, which they exhale with every breath.
Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible.
Avoiding just 10 miles of driving every week would eliminate about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year! Click here to find transit options in your area.
Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates.
Sharing a ride with someone just 2 days a week will reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by 1,590 pounds a year. www.eRideShare.com runs a free national service connecting commuters and travelers.
Keep your car tuned up.
Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.
Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated.
Proper inflation can improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Since every gallon of gasoline saved keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, every increase in fuel efficiency makes a difference!
When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle.
You can save 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year if your new car gets only 3 miles per gallon more than your current one. You can get up to 60 miles per gallon with a hybrid! You can find information on fuel efficiency here and here.
Try car sharing.
Need a car but don’t want to buy one? Community car sharing organizations provide access to a car and your membership fee covers gas, maintenance and insurance.
Try telecommuting from home.
Telecommuting can help you drastically reduce the number of miles you drive every week. For more information, check out the Telework Coalition.
Consider a green roof for your new home or addition.
A living roof can insulate your home, lower ambient temperatures, and expand biotic area in urban environments. Installation of green roofs is a complex undertaking; be sure you obtain professional assistance.
Air travel produces large amounts of emissions so reducing how much you fly by even one or two trips a year can reduce your emissions significantly. You can also offset your air travel by investing in renewable energy projects.
Plant a tree.
Trees can shade your house and reduce ambient temperatures in hot weather, reducing the need for air conditioning. Shading pavement (streets and driveways) can reduce what is known as the ‘urban heat island effect’ whereby some urban areas have higher than normal temperatures due to extensive paved areas and lack of natural vegetation.