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Plenty to do for Earth Day
April 20, 2013, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal

Eager to celebrate Earth Day but not sure what to do? We’ve got you covered.

In the next few days, there are plenty of opportunities to help clean up — literally. Those who want to keep up the good work past Monday can also do some good throughout the year using tech trends.

Getting outside

On Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon, Belmont is celebrating Earth Day at Twin Pines Park with activities for all ages ranging from creek cleanup, making recycled crafts, resource booths, prizes and recycling opportunities. The activities will include stations for recycling electronic waste, document shredding, household battery dropoff and compost giveaway.

Additionally, Belmont Library will be present to accept gently used books for reuse. After dropping off your items for recycling, be sure to stop by the meadow and visit the participating booths for environmentally friendly information, activities, fun and prizes.

Downtown San Mateo will also be holding a spring cleanup from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday. Sponsored by the Downtown San Mateo Association and in partnership with the city and local businesses, the first annual Downtown Spring Clean Up will help keep downtown clean. Volunteer teams are joining forces to remove graffiti, wash windows, pick up litter and plant and weed planter boxes. Volunteers will meet at Central Park and split into teams to accomplish projects in various locations around the Downtown. For more information visit

Those interested in spending time on the Bay, should consider the Marine Science Institute celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at 500 Discovery Parkway in Redwood City.

Once a year, the Marine Science Institute throws open its doors to the public, so they have packed in a variety of watery ways to have fun and learn about the San Francisco Bay. Those who enjoy music, mud and sea creatures will have lots to do. There will be live music, programs with tide pool animals, fish and shark feedings, environmental information and ocean arts and crafts.

Those wanting more information about local green opportunities can swing by Millbrae’s Earth Day Outreach Monday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Broadway at Civic Center Lane. Staff will be on hand to chat and those who stop by can pick-up informative handouts.

Also on Earth Day, consider encouraging SamTrans employees who will be visiting several bus stops along El Camino Real during the morning to clear trash accumulating on the road and sidewalk.

If your green fix isn’t filled over this weekend, there are two other chances to help.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 28, the San Mateo Public Works Department, in partnership with Goodwill, Recology and RethinkWaste will host a free recycling event for San Mateo residents at the Beresford Park parking lot, 2720 Alameda de las Pulgas in San Mateo. The event includes an e-waste dropoff, a community paper shred and Goodwill collection. If you want to do some spring cleaning and have old files, small electronic appliances, computer equipment or other household items to get rid of, you can bring them to this free community event.

Millbrae will celebrate Arbor and Earth days Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to noon at Central Park. Those free can swing by to help plant trees and flowers, pick up trash and take on other tasks to spruce up the park.

Trash-tastic art

Interested in seeing how trash plays a part in being green?

RethinkWaste, in collaboration with Recology San Mateo County and South Bay Recycling, will be hosting the second annual “Earth Day@Shoreway” from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Shoreway Environmental Center, 333 Shoreway Road, San Carlos. The free event will feature a compost giveaway, art activities, tours of the facility, information booths, food and prizes. It will take place rain or shine.

The winners of RethinkWaste’s first “Trash to Art” Contest, open to all fourth through sixth grade classes in the RethinkWaste service area, will also be recognized by San Carlos Mayor Bob Grassilli during the Earth Day event.

“To us, Earth Day is every day, but an event like this provides a fun way to remind everyone that there are so many ways to reduce our impact on the environment, from reusing items instead of throwing them away, to using compost in their gardens,” said Faustina Mututa, RethinkWaste’s environmental education coordinator. “They can also see what happens to the materials they set out for collection in their carts every week, which is often a mystery to many.”

The free compost is for residents only, while supplies last. Paper bags and shovels will be provided for attendees to use, or they may bring their own containers.

Local children had more than multiple chances to turn what one might consider trash into something bigger.

The 2013 version of Weil Gotshal’s Recycled Art Project contest, the fifth sponsored by Weil Gotshal, took place at Redwood Shores Elementary School, Francisco Middle School in San Francisco, and Forest Hill Elementary School in San Jose. Students were encouraged to make or design their own artwork using only recycled materials, such as newspaper, PVC pipes, recyclable electronics, cardboard, bottles, etc.

Weil Gotshal's Geri Ward, who lead the art project, said it started in 2005 after an employee saw adults creating similar projects. Since starting at one school with 25 students, the program has grown this year to include three schools and 114 students — including pieces created by Redwood Shores Elementary School students.

“It’s fun for us,” said Ward of putting on the competition. “Every single year is different.”

This year a standout for Ward is a bag created with Capri Sun juice packs. Those who visit this weekend get to vote on winners. Ward really enjoys the creativity of the students when working with trash. Also, the challenge is so open ended, it creates a great opportunity for a wide, diverse group of children, she said.

The art pieces will be on display, giving attendees an opportunity to see firsthand how creative students can be.

Reusable future

Take time Sunday to invest in a reusable shopping bag or two. On Monday, a single-use bag ban goes into effect in many San Mateo County cities — except for San Mateo and Redwood City, where the rule change starts later this year. Consider using this day as a kickoff to your new habit of bringing a bag with you to stores.

If you forget to buy a bag, San Mateo residents can pick up a “BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) San Mateo” bay on Earth Day at various city facilities. For locations, visit

Want to learn more about the bag ban? The San Mateo Library is hosting a screening of “Bag it. Is Your Life Too Plastic?” from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. Monday.

The award-winning documentary explores society’s reliance on plastic bags and reveals the many environmental and health hazards associated with plastic. Spend your lunch hour this Earth Day with the city of San Mateo to learn more about the importance of reducing reliance on disposable bags.

A techie-shade of green

Making changes to the environment often starts with your day-to-day habits. Belmont-based BlogHer turned to its online community for ideas of how to use technology to be greener in daily life. BlogHer Co-Founder Elisa Camahort Page said one trend for homeowners is a product called the Nest — a smart temperature control device that learns a family’s habits, programs itself and can be controlled from a smartphone. The device uses gamification — like giving little leaf badges — to encourage environmentally-sound decisions. Camahort Page said that she even saw got a discount on her utility bill for the smart use of temperature control.

Using a smartphone also opens up people to instant information via apps. The Transit App, for example, uses real-time maps to offer the best public transit path to wherever someone is going. Those who are interested in certain topics — like animal rights, for example — could use the GoodGuide. Users can choose issues important for them, then can scan barcodes of products to see how it ranks compared to their personal, important issues, said Camahort Page.

A big way to be green, which technology supports, is telecommuting, said Camahort Page. Given the online community of BlogHer, many of its users take advantage of this. The Telework Research Network tracks the environmental impacts of people not jumping in the car to make that daily commute.

Lastly, those interested in actually working with their green thumbs can get tips from Sunset Magazine’s app, which offers everything from tips in gardening to recipes for how to use your home-grown produce. And, those wanting to light their garden, should consider getting solar-powered lights, which Camahort Page was surprised to learn are quite affordable.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

This article has been edited for clarification from its original version.



Tags: mateo, earth, those, mdash, earth day, earth day events, things to do on earth day

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