Environmental longevity is at the forefront of my mind as Earth Week 2021 arrives.
The implications of major news reports in recent weeks statewide about another early fire season, another awful rain year statistically and another serious drought potentially on the horizon should not be ignored. They can't be because the conditions, should they come to pass, will impact us all.
But the notion that we can all do our part, in little ways or big ways, to effect positive change to support our Bay Area environment now and into the future continues to give me optimism -- though I recognize the time for inaction in some areas has all but dissipated.
It's with positivity that I look ahead to an inspiring slate of Earth Week activities and programs on the schedule for the Tri-Valley in the days ahead.
Earth Day has always had special significance for me. Of course, that's in large part because it also happens to be my mom's birthday, but that personal connection makes all the difference.
It's also been great to see how the observance has evolved from the single day of volunteering or lessons on April 22 (like when I was a kid growing up in the late-90s and early-00s) to a chock-full Earth Week focusing on many, many aspects of the environment.
I try to be aware of what steps I can take to help "the world around me" as often as I can, but openly acknowledge it's mostly small- and medium-range stuff.
I drive a hybrid car. I use reusable cloth shopping bags. Rechargeable batteries around the house. Turn off extraneous lights. Is a product sustainably made and/or locally sourced? Do my best to remember to say "no plasticware" when ordering takeout because we have utensils at home.
I'm dutifully cognizant of my actions outdoors near dry vegetation. I've gotten better about the amount of water I use doing the dishes -- but, admittedly, take showers that are still a bit too long.
My wife and I like to donate to good causes, including some that prioritize sustainability, but I have never volunteered my personal time nearly enough to support nonprofits in the flesh.
I'm not perfect. Nobody can be. But what I strive to do is to become better informed and to limit preventable lapses or mistakes.
That's why I often cringe when I throw my banana peel away in the green bin outside our office building here in Pleasanton or dump our household food waste into the organics cart at our condo complex in Walnut Creek.
Almost every time I lift the green lid, there are bags of trash, loose (non-organic) garbage or recyclable plastics piled inside -- even though the proper, respective bins are inches away.
This embarrasses and frustrates me to no end as a supporter of the environment, industry innovation and California ideals.
I mean, c'mon. It's 2021; people know those white or black plastic bags have no business in the "organics" bin. Most times there's a clear breakdown of what goes where on the bins' lids, or look through those mailers from the waste company. Because putting something in the wrong cart, especially the green one, disrupts their operations. Our progress on waste reduction too.
Just like in many aspects of life, doing those little things add up toward achieving a desired goal.
The Pleasanton Unified School District's "1 Small Act" program caught my eye this month. The district is urging people to support the environment through one little act, and consider sharing it with the community via pusdedu.info/1smallact.
Examples so far include growing vegetables, relying on reusable water bottles instead of single-use plastic ones and capture shower water in a bucket while waiting for it to heat up, per PUSD.
I also encourage you to visit the calendar on our website and look over the plethora of Earth Week special events planned across the Tri-Valley.
East Bay Parks, for example, is holding "Virtual Earth Day Celebration" and "Volunteer Earth Month Neighborhood Cleanup" instead of large in-person gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Dublin Senior Center has an "Earth Day Drive-Thru for Seniors" set for next Thursday.
The Tri-Valley Citizens' Climate Education group is promoting more than a dozen events during the week -- a Family Cycling Workshop with Bike East Bay at Del Valle High on Sunday, "Fingerprinting the Climate System" webinar with a Livermore Lab scientist Monday, and discussions on relevant films like "The Human Element," "The Story of Plastic," and "Resist and Restore."
I know I also plan to keep an open mind as I educate myself on the big-picture issues facing the California environment in 2021. I take to heart when the Zone 7 Water Agency last month called for voluntary water conservation because this year "is looking to be even drier" or when Gov. Gavin Newsom earlier this week signed off on the state's $536 million wildfire prevention plan.
Pay attention and think about how these issues can impact you, how you can do your part to help and how you can prepare for changing conditions.
Oh, and watch what you put in that organics bin.
Editor's note: Jeremy Walsh has been the editor of the Pleasanton Weekly since February 2017. His "What a Week" column runs on the first and third Fridays of the month.