Tahoe Basin Watershed Education Summit (TBWES), partners high school students and teachers from the Tahoe-Truckee region with resource specialists, and resource conservation district personnel in a 3 day, extensive watershed monitoring project. Students from both South Shore and North Shore high schools work alongside scientific professionals, and are involved in hands-on, field data collection critical to developing future restoration activities for this impaired watershed. Students participate in a complete experience that combines community service, educational development, environmental stewardship, and career exploration. TBWES is a collaboration between Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships and South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition. 2014 funding was generously provided by Clif Bar Family Foundation, and The American River Conservancy.
Read article at Tahoe Daily Tribune HERE.
Would you like a free, reusable bag for your groceries today?
That was the greeting many people received before entering Truckee’s Safeway and Save Mart on Sunday morning, the first day of the town’s plastic bag ban.
“I think it’s great because I see those plastic bags blowing all over the place,” said Meredith Walkington, of Truckee, before heading into Safeway. “We never should have had them in the first place, and they shouldn’t have lasted as long as they did.”
Others shoppers, however, were less supportive of the new law.
Diane Sullivan, of Bakersfield, Calif., said she’ll go elsewhere to do her grocery shopping now.
“Wait until you get these tourists in town,” she said. “They are going to be very upset. They’re hot and tired, and they’ve been on the road for hours (when) they’re coming into the store to get their stuff and then they’re hit with that (charge).”
Those who don’t bring reusable bags will be charged a minimum 10-cent fee per recycled paper or reusable bag at check out. Stores will keep money generated by the fee to help offset the cost of buying paper bags.
On Sunday, a few people could be seen walking out of Safeway with paper bags, while others carried their unbagged groceries in their hands. Yet, the majority came with reusable bags, either from home or supplied to them.
Outside Safeway and Save Mart, Truckee High School Envirolution Club members handed free reusable bags supplied by the town to customers.
“It’s been overwhelmingly positive,” said Savannah Wilkinson, an Envirolution member, outside Safeway. “Almost everyone has been really excited about it. … That’s been really encouraging — those positive responses.”
In addition, Safeway offered free reusable bags for customers who spend $25 or more on their groceries.
According to the law, retailers can provide free reusable bags to customers as a promotional event. However, such promotions cannot exceed 90 days in any consecutive 12-month period.
While Truckee residents Andre Ciszak and his wife, Kathleen Lubman, used plastic and paper bags before the ban, they don’t expect the switch to reusable to be a problem.
“It’s no big deal,” Ciszak said. “Everybody has been doing it for years.”
While the ordinance applies to all Truckee grocery and retail establishments, roughly a dozen businesses were given an exemption upon request so they could use their remaining stock of plastic bags, said Nichole Dorr, recycling coordinator for the town. They will need to comply by Dec. 1.
“Hopefully, as time goes on, we’ll just see less pollution and less plastic floating around in the environment,” she said. “I think for us, the bigger message is to just start reducing single-use in general. It’s not necessarily about getting rid of plastic and the paper issue; it’s just all about being a more conscious consumer, and really paying attention to all your little small actions because they do add up to a bigger impact.”
Read article at Tahoe Daily Tribune here.
Sometimes a seemingly simple idea can make a big impact.
Executive Director of Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships Missy Mohler thought disposal sorting bins she saw at Whole Foods Market would be a good fit for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.
The bins, housed in wooden cabinets, had clear compartments with examples of each bin’s material.
Mohler snapped a pic and shared with Joanna Walters of Sierra Cost Management and TTUSD’s Anna Klovstad, who leads the district’s sustainability, energy conservation and waste reduction efforts.
Klovstad thought the bins would compliment the district’s Green Team efforts with accurate sorting to prevent contamination. The bins are customizable, so each Green Team decides what materials will be collected.
Truckee Elementary composts lunchroom waste. Glenshire Elementary and others participate in terracycling. Some schools might sort aluminum separately from other recyclables.
The women took their idea to Mike Nedersole of MD Construction. Nedersole developed a drawing and built a prototype he shared with the Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe (C.A.T.T.) Community Project group.
C.A.T.T. Community Project agreed to work with Nedersole, volunteering their design and construction time to complete six bins, two each for use at Truckee Elementary, Tahoe Lake Elementary and Kings Beach Elementary schools where the Green Teams have established sorting programs.
Community collaboration didn’t end there. The costly project materials weren’t in the schools’ or the district’s budgets.
Mohler and Klovstad approached The Shane McConkey Foundation, which has funded the elementary school Green Team’s establishment, helped Truckee Elementary become the first “green school” in the district and offered a $20,000 EcoChallenge grant previously.
The Foundation agreed to pay for the Kings Beach and Tahoe Lake bin material. Truckee Elementary’s PTO covered the materials cost for their school.
Klovstad believes the bins present additional educational opportunity. The students accurately monitor what percentage of their school’s waste is recycled, composted, reused, terracycled and goes into landfills. The Green Teams go through the bin bags, make sure proper materials were deposited, weigh each bag and keep record of it.
“This one small project is so united with how the district is trying to shift the teaching process to hands-on and directly relevant learning, that fits in with the Common Core ideas,” said Klovstad. “Already students are aware of the impacts that they’ve had in reducing what goes into landfills. They are taking this knowledge home with them and educating their families and the community to use reusable containers and shopping bags. Our students are truly becoming stewards of the environment.”
The Green Teams at each school got busy preparing the bins and setting up the viewing areas for unveiling ceremonies at their schools.
Tahoe Lake Elementary, Truckee Elementary, and Kings Beach Elementary each had special assemblies the week of April 28 to unveil the bins and honor Earth Day. The Green Teams put on skits and demonstrated how to use the smart sorting bins in school-wide assemblies.
Klovstad is exploring grants and other options to build more bins.
Since the establishment of TTUSD’s energy and conservation program in 2008, the program has saved $400,000 annually in electricity and gas alone.
Green Teams, with support from The Shane McConkey Foundation, SWEP, Klovstad and other community partners have succeeded in the following initiatives:
Reusuable trays for lunch instead of disposable paper boats are now used at all elementary school sites.
Kings Beach Elementary, Glenshire Elementary and Truckee Elementary schools have eliminated disposable sporks from their cafeterias and now use reusable utensils. These first two initiatives also involved great collaboration with the district’s and individual schools’ Food Service departments.
100 percent post-consumer recycled paper towels are used district-wide.
Hand dryers replaced paper towels at Kings Beach and Truckee Elementary.
Eco action clubs have been formed at the middle schools.
The Shane McConkey Foundation recently awarded $3,000 of their EcoChallenge funds to North Tahoe High School. Their project was designed to raise environmental awareness by promoting daily actions students and staff can take to reduce their impact on the environment.
EcoFriendly Fridays encouraged students to use reusable lunch bags, take reusable water bottles and to turn off lights when not in use.
NTHS plans to use the money to install a water bottle refilling station to replace the water bottle vending machine.
Read article at Tahoe Daily Tribune Here.
Winter Film Series benefits SWEP
Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships, SWEP, would like to send a heartfelt thank you to Alpenglow, Tahoe City. Brendan Madigan and the Alpenglow staff dedicated proceeds from two of their popular Winter Film Series.
On Feb. 27 a series of small films were presented inside Alpenglow to a packed house. On March 13, Alpenglow presented an evening with North Face athlete Emily Harrington, who narrated slides and a video of her climb of Mt. Everest and Big Wall climbing in Morocco.
Several hundred folks attended both events and supported SWEP through the sale of raffle tickets, donations and admission costs. Raffle prizes included snowshoes, back packs, climbing shoes from Alpenglow and sponsored items from North Face and Smith.
SWEP received a total of $2,700 towards its Winter Discover Program.
The Winter Discovery Program is an official Snow School site that works to provide winter ecology field trips that combine science explorations with cross country skiing and basic winter skills. SWEP partners with Tahoe Cross Country Ski Education Association to hold these classes at the yurt at Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area.
SWEP promotes environmental stewardship by connecting students to their community and local environment through comprehensive watershed education and service learning. SWEP fulfills its mission through collaboration with local teachers, school districts, community partners such as Alpenglow, and individuals.
For information and participation as a partner or volunteer, visit http://www.4swep.org.
Green Team students preparing “Smart bins” to roll out soon at TES, KBE, TLE schools. These bins will help separate trash to be diverted and up-cycled! Helping schools reduce waste!
Thank you to the following partners for helping make these bins a reality:
- Mike Nethersole & MD Construction
- Contractors Association of Truckee Tahoe – Community Projects
- The Shane McConkey Foundation
- TES PTO
- TTUSD Conservation & Sustainability Dept.
- TTUSD Food Services