How to use the EV charging stations in Rossmoor

How to use the EV charging stations in Rossmoor at a glance*

The three groups of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are almost complete. Gateway has the first set of charging stations available for use. There are 10 parking spaces with charging connectors at each location: the Gateway parking lot across from the bus stop, the west side of the Fitness Center parking lot, and the Event Center parking lot. Each location includes two handicap-accessible-compliant stations.

The GRF Board has adopted some rules for use:

  1. Parking at all locations is NOT dedicated to electric vehicles.

Parking is first-come, first-served for all vehicle types from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

  1. Parking IS dedicated to EVs between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  2. There is a three-hour limit for charging between the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  3. EVs plugged in over three hours between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. will be charged a penalty rate of twice the normal rate.
  4. Rates do apply for charging. The rates include the cost of electricity plus a 20 percent mark-up for GRF and any fees charged by the service provider Greenlots (currently a 5% surcharge).
  5. Rates will be available on the Greenlots website (www.greenlots.com/ev-drivers/ and APP.
  6. Residents with electric vehicles will need to call or go on the Greenlots website to register and get the APP or a RFID key fob. See accompanying article from Greenlots on frequently asked questions.

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Charging at the Gateway EV charging station using the Greenlots App (notes by a SR member)

  1. activate the Greenlots App on your mobile phone (this is not the RFID key fob procedure)
  2. scan the station bar code or enter the station number by hand:  the Gateway Station ID number is:  112476U  (Note the Station ID 112476U is same for all 10 Chargers/Connectors at this location; it will be different for another location such as the Events Center.)
  3. select the “Connector” (See screen-shot with purple circle around the “8 SAEJ1772” connector entry. Touch the screen for a drop-down box showing all the connectors available at this location and select the one you intend to use.)
  4. touch “START Charge“  (touch “STOP Charge” when finished)

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Here are frequently asked questions on charging electric vehicles at the new EV charging stations in Rossmoor.

Q: How does a driver start a charge session?

Start a session with the free Greenlots APP, a Greenlots RFID card or call 855-7584. Sign up at www.charge.greenlots.com.

Q: Can my electric vehicle use the stations in Rossmoor?

Yes. Most electric vehicles are equipped with the standard J1772 level 2 charging port. For DC Fast Charging Stations, CHAdeMo or CCS are also standard on most electric vehicles.

Q: Can a driver pay with a credit card?

Yes, you can pay with a credit card using the mobile APP, or by calling 855-900-7584.

Q: How much does it cost to use?

Session fees vary and are determined by the site owner, but the Greenlots APP lists the pricing for each station.

Q: What if the driver needs help?

The customer care team is available to assist drivers 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached by calling 855-900-7584.

Q: How can a driver find the Greenlots APP?

It is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Q: How can a driver order a Greenlots RFID card?

After signing up, log in to your driver account to request an RFID card or call 855-900-7584.

Q: Can the stations be used in the rain?

Yes. The station is safe to use in all weather conditions, but charging may be slower in cold or hot conditions.

Download How to use the EV charging stations in Rossmoor at a glance

* EV Charging Station Information courtesy of the Rossmoor News, July 25, 2018; p. 8A.

Civil DISOBEDIENCE, fighting for Our Environment

Civil Disobedience, fighting for OUR Environment

When:  August 8, 7:00 pm
Where:  Peacock Hall

DISOBEDIENCE is a persuasive and handsomely produced documentary from the activist organization 350.org. Disobedience tells the David vs. Goliath tale of front line leaders battling for a livable world. Filmed in the Philippines, Turkey, Germany, Canada, Cambodia and the United States, it weaves together these riveting stories with insights from the most renowned voices on social justice and climate. Disobedience is personal, passionate and powerful — the stakes could not be higher, nor the mission more critical.

A panel discussion will follow this 41 minute film — See Discussants List Below

Residents who’ve been brave enough to step up and risk being arrested will share their stories. We’ll ask the questions: When is it justified? Does it help or hurt a cause? Does it have a lasting benefit?

The future of the planet is under attack. In just the past few years, we’ve witnessed unprecedented waves of brutal storms, massive oil spills engulfing our oceans and sea life, and the hottest temperatures ever recorded in human history. Climate change is real, and it’s up to the will of the people to reverse its adverse effects. This is the argument that drives the film.

The film begins with a critical eye on the actions undertaken at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris. While each world leader seemed satisfied by the outcomes of their conference, the film contends that their final agreement does little to change the tide of global warming in the years to come. Believing that the call for real and lasting change cannot be answered by often impotent politicians, the film showcases a diverse group of activists throughout the globe who have taken the fight into their own hands.

Lidy Nacpil, a spokesperson for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, works to galvanize a citizen force against a proposed coal plant in Batangas. The plant would produce over 7 million metric tons of CO2 emissions every year, and therefore poses a severe environmental threat. The country knows from experience how the voice of its people can inspire wide sweeping change. In 1986, urgent protests led to the ousting of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. A growing community of like-minded citizens hope to spark the same level of passion and outcry against the region’s blossoming fossil fuel industries.

In Canada, a rapidly expanding pipeline is gradually polluting the purity of the ocean water and other natural resources. Area residents refuse to take a payout from big corporations in exchange for their complacency. They choose to fight.

In one profile after another, DISOBEDIENCE introduces us to inspiring groups of people who are advocating for a better way of life for their families, their communities and their planet. In the process, scientists and scholars educate viewers on the role of civil disobedience in affecting reform, the economic impact of environmental catastrophe, and the myriad of social issues which are worsening in the midst of climate change.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmynS5zkbQM

PANEL DISCUSSION

When Is Civil Disobedience warranted? Add your voice to those of the three panelists discussing non-violent direct action in defense of the environment on Wednesday, August 8th after the movie sponsored by Sustainable Rossmoor. The film DISOBEDIENCE starts at 7:00 pm in Peacock Hall, the panel discussion follows at 7:45 pm. Information about the film is in the movie section.
The panelists will share their stories and rationale for occasions when they veered from their professional lives to lead or join with others to defy authority. They include Steve Nadel, Janice Kirsch, and Rossmoor resident Bob Hanson; the moderator will be Marcia McLean, President of Sustainable Rossmoor. There will be time for your questions and comments.

PANELISTS

STEVE NADEL states that the essential message of non-violent civil disobedience is “It is time to end Business as Usual. When our institutions fail to protect or actively endanger our health, environment and climate we must step in to say the harm must end now.” Steve started his political organizing at the height of the Viet Nam war, and the first Earth Day in 1970. Later in the 1980’s, he took direct action at the Port Chicago Naval Weapons station to stop arms shipments to Central America. Recently, he helped organize a blockade by Sunflower Alliance at the Kinder Morgan rail lines in Richmond, when they attempted to sneak in fracked Baaken Crude to the Chevron refinery. Steve has testified multiple times at the Bay Area Air Quality Management District but also is ready to lead a protest at the Phillips 66 marine terminal in Rodeo to prevent expansion designed to accommodate Alberta tar sands.

JANICE KIRSCH, MD, MPH, is a physician who has been deeply concerned about climate disruption since her Berkeley pre-med days in the 1970’s. She has also been an activist with Physicians for Social Responsibility and been arrested for peaceful direct action on two occasions. She serves on the steering committee for 350 Bay Area, on the Board of Directors of The Climate Mobilization, and as a presenter for The Climate Reality Project.
Since climate chaos is the greatest public health threat that humankind has ever faced, she sees civil disobedience as a medical as well as a moral calling.
BOB HANSON, a Rossmoor resident, is an anti-war and anti-nuclear weapons activist who plans on being arrested Monday, Aug. 6th for the 4th time. This will happen at the annual Livermore Labs protest on Hiroshima Day. Bob was a founding member of both the Rossmoor Peace & Justice Club and Sustainable Rossmoor. Bob is very passionate about the environment, but has yet to be arrested for any actions in this area. But he says: “I won’t rule it out.”

To The Ends of the Earth – July Film

July Film:  To the Ends of the Earth

When: Wednesday, July 11, 7:00-8:30 pm   Where: Peacock Hall 

(2016), 82 minutes

Sustainable Rossmoor will show TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH — a new film about extreme oil extraction deep under the Arctic, from the Alberta tar sands, and from oil shale under at the Colorado River headwaters. This award-winning film is narrated by Emma Thompson and details the environmental problems resulting from the use of extreme oil extraction technologies.  It also reveals the struggles of concerned citizens living at the destructive frontiers beyond traditional energy, and interviews those who fight for a different future with environmentally sensitive energy solutions.

In 2005, something unexpected happened, the growth of the traditional fossil fuel energy market stopped. The age of extreme energy was born. Unconventional energy extraction is defined by both the geology and the geography of a resource. All forms are technically difficult, energy intensive (requiring more energy to harvest than traditional methods), expensive, and pose serious environmental risks.

What do you do when the river catches fire?

The film bears witness to humanity’s descent further down the “resource pyramid.” At the top of the pyramid, energy is easy to find and cheap, and it requires minimal labor and has the highest capital and energy return on investment (EROI), as in the case of Saudi oil. In the middle of the pyramid, resources are more difficult and costly to extract, as is the case for mining the Alberta tar sands or hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. “Drill, baby, drill” has become “mine, baby, mine,” “steam, baby, steam,” and “frack, baby, frack.” At the bottom of the pyramid, there are energy resources such as Utah’s and Colorado’s oil shale, the economic feasibility of which, despite billions in investments, remains uncertain. Extreme energy is much less profitable, and there are diminishing returns on investment.

After 10 years of rather intensive global development,

unconventional resources now comprise 42% of the planet’s energy mix.

In the words of interviewee and author Richard Heinberg, “Given that 95% of all economic transactions in our globalized economy bear the footprint of fossil fuels, does this spell the end of economic growth for our civilization?”  We meet the people uniquely positioned to watch this global crossroads unfold, and who are fighting for something different.

The first site of extreme extraction revealed in the film is under the ice . . . at the ends of the earth – the Arctic Sea. The United States Geological Survey has given a 50% probability that there are 90 billion barrels of oil under the Arctic; that’s about 3 years of global energy consumption. With the decline in the price of oil, there has been a decrease in commercial interest, except for those nearby countries whose economies are heavily oil-dependent: Russia, Norway, and Canada. International companies including Chevron and Exxon-Mobile have multiple contracts in the Arctic with these countries.

In Arctic waters, oil exploration starts with seismic testing; large air guns send blasts aimed at the bottom of the ocean to determine the presence of oil. “Aside from nuclear explosions, these are the loudest man-made sounds. These shocks that happen every 12 seconds around the clock for months at a time, can be heard from 3,000 km away —basically over 1/2 of the Atlantic,” reports marine biologist Lindy Weilgart. She has been studying the effects of underwater sounds on whales, dolphins, narwalls, and other sea-life.

We meet the mayor of an Inuit village in Canada’s high Arctic (on Baffin Island) who is concerned that seismic testing for oil in the ocean is blowing out the eardrums of the seals and narwhals that the Inuit hunt to survive. There have been significant die-offs of these animals who are unable to find air holes in the ice or hunt for food when their own sonar systems are compromised. The Inuit people have taken the Canadian government to court for granting permits for seismic testing.

Next, the film tells the story of bitumen and the Albert tar sands oil industry. The Canadian film director, David Lavallee, has experienced first-hand the tragedies of Tar Sands mining. The production of oil there, consumes huge amounts of water and power – more than exists in Alberta. They must frack for natural gas and dam rivers in neighboring provinces for the resources needed to process the dirty tar sands, polluting the territories multi-fold and changing river life forever.  It has halted economic growth in the provinces. A new nuclear power plant is planned in Saskatchewan to keep up the pace.

The Alberta Tar Sands are the major source of oil used in the US and is the second largest source of energy production worldwide.  It is economically unsustainable.

We learn more about EROI, energy return on investment, by following the money and doing the math. The cost of energy investment to harvest oil more than doubled between 2005 to 2013 at the Tar Sands. This does not include the cost of water, or the dumping of tailings, the destruction of farmland, and so on.

We also learn that the world economy is built on investments dependent on expanding economies. As energy becomes more expensive, an economy built on fossil fuel energies will grind to a halt at some point. It cannot continue expanding. This will happen while there’s plenty of oil still in the ground, but much of the world’s earth, air, and water is fouled beyond repair. We learn about the concept of Degrowth — the slowing of the consumer society that will happen either by design or by disaster.

Burning oil shale, a rock that ignites, is an even more expensive source of energy. It is the resource that exists under the Grand Canyon and similar sites. It’s earned the label “extremely unconventional energy.” It has never shown a net profit.

As is true of every form of extreme extraction, environmental damage is necessary.

As of 2013, 15 million people in the United States lived within 1 mile of a frack well. The number has increased markedly since then.  Many million children attend school near frack wells. Typically, after 2 years, the well’s natural gas (methane) production decreases and it is no longer profitable. New wells are then drilled. All wells invariably leak. The methane can be seen from outer space, with the US fracking operations being the worst. Fracking is also extremely thirsty for water, and highly polluting of it. First Nations have been joined by others to fight pipelines, water permits, and port expansions. Natural gas was once heralded as a cleaner source of energy than coal.

The greenhouse footprint of natural gas is two to three times worse the coal

due to methane release into the atmosphere.

Switching to 100% renewable energy will not be enough. For the world to become sustainable, we’ll need to consume less. The film clarifies the economic effects — not just of energy and its extraction, but of growth and also degrowth. We might want to consider slowing of the consumer society by design rather than by disaster.

Watch the 2 minute trailer:  http://endsofearthfilm.com/

100 Percent Renewable Energy

Did you know 100 percent of your electricity could come from renewable sources with the click of your cursor? Or a phone call. Did you know you already are getting more clean energy than customers of PG&E?

Let’s first answer the question, who cares? You are saving money if you are getting your energy from MCE Clean Energy – just like 88 percent of the other residents of Walnut Creek do. PG&E charges more for their dirtier energy. Hard to believe, I know. Clean energy is from renewable sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass. Unless you took a special step to “opt out” of MCE, you are likely getting 50 percent clean energy at a rate 2-5 percent lower than PG&E’s 33 percent clean energy.

It might be confusing because you’re still getting a bill from PG&E. But, look at the one tiny line item that reads “electricity generation” and you’ll see MCE’s generation charge has replaced PG&E’s generation charge. This started in September 2016, but you probably didn’t notice. Ever since then, you’ve been saving money and getting cleaner energy coming to your home.

All about MCE

But the story gets better. MCE Clean Energy is a not-for-profit public agency without shareholders. Its governing board is made up of one elected council member from each participating city and one elected supervisor from each county in its jurisdiction (Contra Costa, Solano, Napa and Marin). All its meetings are open to the public and video-recordings are archived online. Revenue has been invested in a training center for green jobs, building local solar farms, energy efficiency programs, solar rebates for low-income residents and an extra benefit to customers with their own rooftop solar. In sum, MCE is both adding more clean energy to the grid and contributing to the local economy.

Maybe the most important reason to care about the cleaner energy option is because it helps us to reduce greenhouse gases. The basic MCE plan that everyone gets is the Light Green plan, but for an extra 1 cent per kilowatt-hour, anyone can “opt up” to MCE’s Deep Green plan, which provides electricity from 100 percent renewable sources. This costs the average homeowner $4.50/month but will vary depending on how much electricity you use.

Importantly, a person can “opt down” to Light Green (50 percent renewable) anytime one wants – maybe if one’s finances become tight. A Deep Green home reduces by over 1 metric ton the amount of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere each year; that’s equivalent to driving 2,437 fewer miles using gasoline. The impact is even more impressive for those if us in Rossmoor who have all-electric manors.

But that’s just one home. A city council can vote to opt up its municipal accounts from 50 percent to 100 percent clean energy. It sets an important example for residents; in fact, when other cities have opted up their municipal accounts, the number of residents who do the same doubles within a few months, on average. It’s called the multiplier effect. Every city in the MCE service area opted up their municipal accounts last year, except Walnut Creek. Tsk. Tsk. And the statistics correlate.

Walnut Creek

Jenna Famular, MCE’s community development manager, showed a chart during Earth Awareness Week that revealed Larkspur had the most number of residents who had opted up, over 8 percent higher than any other city. Sadly, Walnut Creek is one of the lowest in the region at 1.3 percent. Our neighbor, Lafayette, with whom Walnut Creek City Council sometimes tries to compete in “greenness,” has 3.6 percent residents who are Deep Green customers. But behold! We in Rossmoor have 2.3 percent of our residents who have opted up to 100 percent clean energy. We are setting an example to others in our city. This is where you can help.

Request the Walnut Creek City Council to opt up its municipal accounts. This month, our city council will vote on a budget that could include opting up its municipal accounts. There’s a surplus on the city’s coffers that will more than cover this. It’s a small item for a city with a total budget of over $110,000,000. Write a letter to the city clerk at: lechuga@walnut-crerek.org and ask it to be distributed to all the council members.

UPDATE:  On May 15, 2018, the Walnut Creek City Council voted unanimously to opt up all the municipal accounts to 100% renewable energy!

The right thing to do

In addition to the multiplier effect, the city has made a promise to us. In its 2012 climate action plan (CAP), one of several environmental goals the council set was to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Opting up is the most cost-effective method to city can use to reach their goal for 2020. Furthermore, every year the city delays, increases the pollution. All these are the reasons every other city in MCE’s territory has opted up. We just celebrated Earth Day – it’s the right thing to do.

In addition, you don’t have to be a Sustainable Rossmoor member to join a delegation to appear at the council meeting in person. Contact me below to join a carpool.

What else can you do? Opt up to the Deep Green plan if you can afford it, even for a few months and join the Sustainable Rossmoor Living Lightly team: http://mcecleanenergy.org/livinglightly. Again, you don’t need to be a Sustainable Rossmoor member. Take a look at the website and see how we lead the region. This website allows you to click on “Enroll in Deep Green.” Scroll down to join the Sustainable Rossmoor Living Lightly team even if you opted up sometime ago – you too can join the team. Or call: 1-888-632-3674. This gives us more than bragging rights – it makes our air cleaner. It’s one simple way to reduce pollution, and reduce our health risks and those of our children and grandchildren.

This article first appeared in the May 9, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Carol Weed can be emailed at: carol4ofa@gmail.co

How You Can Save the Planet

Since this column will be appearing in the middle of Rossmoor’s Earth Awareness Week, Managing Editor Maureen O’Rourke suggested that I devote the space to letting the readers know how they can contribute to the goal of living lightly on planet Earth. Although our actions are for the most part small in the big picture….as you well know….little things add up. There are many ways the average person can make his or her daily routines more eco-friendly. I will suggest a few, and then toss in some suggestions from Pope Francis.

Action One: Cut back on car use. Look for alternatives such as biking, walking or public transportation. Carpool. Combine several errands into one trip. When you are driving, brake and accelerate less; drive at a moderate speed.

Action Two: Make good food choices. In the United States, we throw out about 40 percent of our food each year. When possible, buy local food. The farmers’ markets will be open soon. Learn to love leftovers. Don’t be shy about asking for a “doggie bag.” Most restaurant meals are more food than we need and the take-home box can save you having to cook tomorrow.

Action Three: Reduce your waste. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Our local thrift stores do a great job and have lots of bargains. Their profits support good causes. Avoid disposable plastic water bottles, plates, cups and silverware. Reuse plastic sacks.

Action Four: Conserve water. Take short showers. Use low-flow shower heads. Turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth. Wash your car with a bucket of water and not the hose.

Action Five: Save energy. Instead of turning on the heater, put on a sweater. This summer, open all of the windows each morning to cool down your home, then close up tight as the outside air heats up. Maybe you won’t need that air conditioner today. Obviously, make a habit of turning off the lights when you leave a room (that goes for Rossmoor meeting rooms, also). Unplug appliances when they aren’t needed. Give some consideration to buying solar panels or a fuel-efficient car. Have someone from Walnut Creek Saves visit your place and do an energy audit, which is a free service. Buying a new appliance? Look for the Energy Star rating.

Action Six: Give financial support to nonprofit groups working for the environment. Some to consider: the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, 350.org, Union of Concerned Scientists and Earth Justice.

Even Pope Francis is calling on his followers to help save the environment. A few of his practical tips include: 1. Transition to renewable energy resources. 2. Protect biodiversity. 3. Be aware that synthetic pesticides and herbicides will hurt birds and helpful insects. 4. Get back to nature. 5. Stop needless consumption. 6. Protect vulnerable species.

I part company with him when he says “Stop blaming problems on population growth.” But not even the pope can be expected to get everything right. Have a great Earth Awareness Week. Do your part to save our beautiful planet.

This article first appeared in the April 18, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctoroutdoors@ comcast.net.

What Goes Where: Recycle & Compost List

Why recycle & compost? If you don’t sort your trash, we all pay. The costs are part of our coupon. If your entry needs a large landfill container because recyclable items aren’t separated, you waste $500 to $1000 a year. It will increase. By 2020, the State of California will require all trash companies to divert 75% of the waste they haul – or they face huge fines which will be passed on to us.

How you can help… If you’re like many Rossmoor residents, you want to put trash in correct containers but, at times, you’re unclear about what goes where. Here are answers to questions Rossmoor residents have asked:

AEROSOL CANS & PROPANE CYLINDERS. They are flammable, even when empty. See HAZARDOUS WASTE below.

APPLIANCES. See HAZARDOUS WASTE. Rapid Recycle, (925) 671-8088, will remove for a fee.

MATTRESSES & BOX SPRINGS: Bay Area Recycle, (925-465-5576), will remove for a fee.

BATTERIES. Small batteries go in box just inside Gateway entrance. See HAZARDOUS WASTE.

BOOKS. Put paperback and hardback books, phone books, and spiral notebooks in RECYCLE (container or bin with blue lid). Give books, books-on-tape and DVDs in good condition to a local library or thrift store.

BOTTLES, CARTONS & CANS. Remove lids before putting in RECYCLE. Make sure bottles, cartons and cans are dry. If necessary, invert and air-dry.

CAPS, LIDS & PULL TABS. Metal lids go in RECYCLE. Flip-top tabs (e.g., from aluminum cans), plastic lids, rings and caps go in LANDFILL (container or bin with black lid).

CARDBOARD BOXES. Breakdown and flatten so they fit in RECYCLE. If a box is big or hard to break down or if you have several boxes, take up to MOD Corporation Yard/Dumpster Site. Leave room for your neighbors!

CELLOPHANE. Cellophane bags and wrap go in LANDFILL. Envelopes with cellophane windows go in RECYCLE. (Cellophane crinkles.)

CONSTRUCTION DEBRIS. Residents can bring recyclable debris to MOD. If you see construction debris being dumped in a trash enclosure, immediately email alterations@rossmoor.com with as much information as possible. If Mutual Operations is closed, call Securitas, (925) 988-7899.

DIRT. MOD accepts dirt if it’s in a pot or bag.

DVD & CD DISCS. Recent DVDs and CD discs go in LANDFILL. Discs older than 20 years often contain toxic chemicals and should NOT go in landfill. BEST BUY will accept them. Cut discs with personal data in half. Do NOT try to break in half – they splinter.

EYE GLASSES, HEARING AIDS & CELL PHONES. Put in Lions Club’s WHITE COLLECTION BOX in front of Gateway.

FOOD WASTE. If you don’t have COMPOST (green container), put compostable trash in LANDFILL. Food scraps (raw and cooked); bones; corks; flowers, plant trimmings; leaves; tissue paper; paper plates, towels, napkins, other soiled paper; and pizza boxes go in COMPOST. Loose waste is preferred, but food scraps in a paper bag, newspaper or compostable bag are OK. (Biodegradable bags are NOT!) To keep container from getting grody, put newspapers or dry leaves at bottom before adding food waste.

FURNITURE. For options, see GIVE IT AWAY, WHAT GOES TO MOD? and TRASH HAULERS.

GIVE IT AWAY. Here are some options: — WALNUT CREEK FREECYCLE is a resource for giving stuff to others rather than throwing it away: https://www.freecycle.org — LEFTOVERS THRIFT SHOP, a non-profit thrift store at 2281 Olympic Blvd, Walnut Creek, accepts secondhand clothing, housewares and collectibles. — GOODWILL, 2536 N Main St, Walnut Creek, accepts pre-owned clothing, furniture, housewares.

HAZARDOUS WASTE. Aerosols & propane cylinders; ammunition; anything with an electric cord (small appliances and lamps); automotive products (used motor oil, antifreeze); batteries; electronics (TVs, computers, DVD player, cell phones); paint (all types); fluorescent light bulbs (straight or coiled); pesticides and household cleaners; thermometers and other products with mercury can be picked up by AT YOUR DOOR, http://wmatyourdoor.com or 1-800449-7587. If the scheduler balks at picking up small appliances, assert the pickup is in Walnut Creek.

ITEMS LEFT OUTSIDE CONTAINERS. Your mutual is billed extra if trash containers are overflowing or if items like furniture or folded boxes are left outside containers. This increases your monthly coupon.

LIGHT BULBS. Standard, LED and halogen light bulbs go into LANDFILL. Fluorescent light bulbs (straight or coiled) are HAZARDOUS WASTE.

MATTRESSES & BOX SPRINGS: Bay Area Recycle, (925) 465-5576, will remove for a fee.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT. John Muir Clinic, Goodwill and others accept everything from hospital beds to walking canes. RACORSE NETWORK in Oakland, (510) 251-2273 both accepts and gives them to the uninsured, disadvantaged, ill and elderly.

MEDICATIONS & NEEDLES (SHARPS). Sharps, which go in RED BOX, must be in a hard container (not a soft, plastic baggie). Keep medications in their original container (but mark out personal information), put in a sealable plastic bag, then put in BEIGE BOX in the lobby at Gateway. (Keep lids on tubes. Put medication patches in a baggie or the original box.)

OVERFLOWING CONTAINERS: Your mutual is billed extra if trash bins are overflowing. Having the lid up makes it easier for raccoons to get in and leave a trail of trash. Plus raccoon pee stinks! If your entry’s container is overflowing and needs an extra pickup, call Mary Ann at MOD, (925) 988-7650. (A fee is charged for extra LANDFILL service.) If RECYCLE containers are often overflowing, your mutual director can order twice a week pickup for free.

PACKING MATERIAL. See PLASTIC BAGS for instructions on bubble wrap and air pillows. Bag the peanuts. Put Styrofoam and other packing material in LANDFILL. Or bring clean packing material to the UPS Store at Rossmoor Shopping Center.
PAPER. Cash register receipts, metallic paper and carbon paper go into LANDFILL. Paper napkins, towels, plates, cups, “to go” cardboard boxes and tissue paper go in COMPOST. Shredded paper in a paper or see-thru plastic bag, other clean paper and Post-its go in RECYCLE.

PLASTIC. Soft plastic goes in LANDFILL. All hard plastic (with or without numbers) goes in RECYCLE. Items must be EMPTY and DRY, not perfectly clean, just dry. Plastic cannot be bonded to metal or paper (NO bubble-padded mailers). Republic Services wants all RECYCLE items to be loose (not inside a paper or plastic bag) – except for the bags of plastic bags or shredded paper.

PLASTIC BAGS. Bag the bags! Put clean, dry, plastic bags; plastic wrap; popped bubble wrap; and popped plastic air pillows in a plastic bag. You don’t need to remove paper labels. Before putting in RECYCLE, knot the top of the plastic bag to form a plastic “pillow.”

PRINTER INK CARTRIDGES. Drop off at the Computer Center in Gateway Complex.

SELL IT. You can sell stuff on CRAIGSLIST or use HOME CONSIGNMENT CENTER, 1901 Camino Ramon # F, Danville.

STYROFOAM. All Styrofoam goes in LANDFILL.

TRASH HAULERS. Couches, mattresses, carpeting, and other large items don’t belong in the black, blue or green containers. If MOD won’t accept them, they need to be hauled away. Trash haulers who have good reviews on Yelp.com include Rays Hauling, Vets Move Junk, East Bay Hauling, Lamorinda Hauling, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and All American Hauling.

What Goes to MOD? MOD accepts cardboard boxes, grass cuttings, tree and shrub trimmings, wood products, plywood siding, decking, tree logs, furniture that is not upholstered, dirt in a pot or bag, and recyclable construction material from residents. Be ready to show your Rossmoor ID to staff at the site.

More Information…Recycle and landfill posters are in the Rossmoor phonebook, pages 18 and 19. RecycleSmart has a more detailed list: https://www.recyclesmart.org.

Trash, Recycle or Compost, DOWNLOADABLE

The Making of a Pessimist

One of my main tasks as publicity chairman for Sustainable Rossmoor is to see to it that an Earth Matters column gets submitted twice a month. Several other club members have been helpful by submitting columns from time to time. But when no one sends me a column, I have to come up with something. I can assure you that writing about environmental issues isn’t a happy job. Most of the material I am able to find by research is bad news.

Almost every day, I read of another anti-science crony being appointed to an important position in the Environmental Protection Agency or some other federal government bureau. It is painful to read about the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the concessions being given to the coal, gas and petroleum industries.

Most scientists are in agreement that the earth is unraveling due to human caused global warming. The current extinction rate of species is 1,000 times the historical level. Global wildlife populations have decreased nearly 60 percent since 1970. Coral reefs are dying and the oceans could be completely free of fish by 2048 due to climate disruption, overfishing, pollution and habitat loss. The great Pacific garbage patch is now several times as large as the state of California. Many fish mistake small bits of plastic for food with awful consequences.

In spite of what we are being told by the anti-scientists in Washington, D.C., climate change is proceeding dramatically and abruptly. Hurricane Harvey led to the single largest rain event in U.S. history, which was followed by Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded. In Canada, rapidly melting permafrost is already releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This in turn causes warming, which increases the thaw further. Meanwhile, our forests are being cut down and/or burned. Anyone who has driven to Lake Tahoe has noticed the massive numbers of dead or dying trees. Some of this is caused by draught and much more by the bark beetles, which are pretty much out of control. Dying and burning trees, of course, release tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the cycle feeds on itself.

Now I read that the melting Arctic Sea ice is impacting the Atlantic Ocean water circulation system. Predicted sea level rise will cause devastation for the 145 million folks living on lands less than three feet above sea level. One author suggests that there will likely be 200 million climate refugees from sea level rise by 2050. Authorities are talking about possible sea level rise of 55 feet.

The Trump administration continues to work feverishly to scrub any mention of climate change from government websites. I tend to be a pretty optimistic person, but with regard to the future of the planet, I don’t see much to look forward to. We Depression babies and baby boomers have enjoyed a very good life. It is looking more and more like we have lived in the “best of times.” It may be all downhill from here on out.

Some experts are hinting that if humans continue adding carbon to the air and oceans, a global mass extinction event could be triggered by 2100. I hope they are wrong for the sake of our grandchildren and great grandchildren, but I sure wouldn’t bet any money on it.

This article first appeared in the April 4, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctoroutdoors@comcast.net.

What’s the Big Deal About Plastic Straws?

Plastic drinking straws seem like such a small thing. Why do I find myself reading about them so often these days? Why are some cities banning the use of plastic straws? What’s going on here?

According to a CNN news story, nearly eight million tons of plastic waste makes its way into oceans and waterways each year. It is estimated that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. Plastic straws are a single-use item.

Every day, Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws, enough to circle the earth twice. These straws are made of a petroleum by-product, polypropylene. It does not biodegrade naturally. When in the ocean, it floats until it’s consumed by some form of ocean life or else it makes its way to one of the floating ocean garbage dumps.

The Plastics Pollution Coalition states “Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, including the small amount that has been incinerated and has become toxic particulate matter.” While the straws do not degrade, they do break into smaller pieces. These pieces act like sponges absorbing chemical compounds like PCB and DDT that are in the water.

The small pieces are eaten by sea animals and then become part of their bodies. They make their way up the food chain, eventually to be consumed by humans. Straws that don’t end up in the ocean cause other kinds of problems. Since they don’t biodegrade, those that are in landfill site are there forever.

Another negative consequence is that they go down storm drains adding to the build-up of debris that causes property damage when streets flood. These single use plastic straws are among the top five items removed from the sand when beach cleanups are held. The Ocean Conservancy has shared the following: Millions of plastic straws pollute our ocean where endangered animals like sea turtles can choke on them.

The average American eats out four times a week and almost everyone gets a straw (or two). If we get 25,000 people to skip the straw at restaurants every time, we can keep 5 million plastic straws out of our ocean and landfills in just one year. Take the Last Straw Challenge: When eating out, ask your waiter or waitress to skip the straw.

People have good reasons for using straws. What I am talking about is single-use plastic straws that restaurants routinely place in drink orders. There are alternatives to these. Paper straws are biodegradable. If you need to use straws at home, consider these or reusable straws made of glass, stainless steel, bamboo or other that can be washed and reused. While I don’t believe a ban on plastic straws will end the plastic pollution problem, it is a place to start.

For information, go to thelastplasticstraw.org.

This article first appeared in the Rossmoor News, March 21, 2018. Author Linda Walonen is a member of Sustainable Rossmoor’s Trash Talkers Team. She can be emailed at lsw923@comcast.net.

Day Zero: Lessons From Cape Town’s Crisis

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists of Feb. 16 featured an interview by journalist Dan Drollette Jr. of Peter Gleick, recipient of a MacArthur “genius” fellowship and founder of the Pacific Institute, on the water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa. Gleick explained that for the first time a major city is on the verge of literally turning off its municipal water supply system because of a lack of water. Whether or not it actually happens will depend on whether they’re able to implement programs that reduce enough demand and whether it starts to rain.

Although there are still enormous disparities, South Africa has been a world leader since apartheid ended in addressing previously unmet needs for water and sanitation. The problem is a combination of population growth and absolute limits on new supply. They’re running into peak water constraints and the new reality of climate change.

Previously, water planners and managers had assumed that the climate was variable but stable, that there would be wet years and dry years but that it wouldn’t be changing over time in the long run. That’s no longer true.

We know that humans are causing climate change and we know that some of the worst impacts will be manifested in changes in the hydrologic cycle and changes in water availability and demand. Cape Town is at the limits of getting any new supply. Cape Town is over-tapping its rivers and over-pumping groundwater. The population continues to grow and demands for water continue to grow. Higher temperatures worsen the severity of the drought by increasing the demand for water and the loss of water from soils and reservoirs.

Even though water is a renewable resource, there are limits to how much we can take and use. When the entire flow of rivers, such as the Colorado or Yangtze or Yellow, has been taken a peak constraint occurs. In addition, as much as a third of all the groundwater that’s pumped worldwide now comes from non-renewable groundwater resources. That’s a peak limit as well. More and more regions of the world are reaching peak water. Pumping from ever deeper and deeper levels becomes economically infeasible.

The Ogallala Aquifer is a good example of a peak limit. It is a fossil aquifer that underlies Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas and several other states. It was laid down over tens of thousands of years, but it is being pumped out in decades. Other examples of peak limits are happening in the Middle East, Northern China, parts of Indian and in parts of the Central Valley of California.

Fortunately, the United States has the economic and technical ability to shift water from one user to another, to implement conservation programs that reduce demand–to do the things that Cape Town is doing now–but to do them more effectively. Places like Jakarta or Tehran, or places in the developing world where they don’t have alternatives, where they don’t have the economic ability to use treated wastewater or to desalinate water, and where they don’t have the management ability to implement smart and effective conservation programs are more threatened.

In the 1980s, engineers in Boston plugged a lot of leaks and upgraded all the pipes in the city’s water supply system and reduced water consumption by 40 percent. The cheapest source of new water is not actually new water – it’s spending money on conservation and efficiency programs that let us save water we’re already using.

The smartest thing we can do is make our water use more efficient, to grow more food with less water, to flush our toilets and wash our clothes with less water, to keep the benefits of our water use while reducing the volume of water required to satisfy those benefits.

In the fourth of five years of the California drought, the state imposed a mandatory reduction in urban water use of 25 percent. This was accomplished through a mix of programs. People were offered money to remove lawns and replace them with “xeriscaped” or drought-resistant gardens. Utilities offered rebates on efficient toilets and washing machines. There were restrictions on the timing and the amount of outdoor landscaping. There were changes in rate structures that encouraged people to save money by saving water. Penalties were imposed on high water users.

In the long run, we’re moving toward a sustainable future for water or the soft path for water. It involves alternative sources of supply, like using treated wastewater and capturing more storm water; improving the way we use water and becoming more efficient; smart economic policies and better management. It involves accepting the reality of climate change and integrating the risks of climate change into the way we plan and manage our water systems.

This article first appeared in the March 14, 2018 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Judith Schumacher-Jennings can be emailed at sjmadrone@sonic.net.