Friday, December 28, 2018

Confessions of a Bath-a-holic

"The Bath-a-holic"
My name is Jana. There is nothing I care about more than water security and... I am a bath-a-holic. Yeah, it's a thing. This is the 20th anniversary of my short film, "The Bath-a-holic," inspired by my mom. When I was little, my mom would disappear into the bathroom with a magazine - no doubt to escape her noisy horde of kids. Now that I think of it, I should have known. She brought a magazine into the bathroom, but no matches. So that's why we never had any hot water. That's why dad always bellowed about wasting water. Who knew dad was a water conservationist!

This isn't easy for me to admit. If you follow my blog, you know that Dan and I put a lot of effort (and muscle) into conserving water in the desert. Dan dug catchment basins to catch greywater from our washing machine. We use rainwater from the roof on desert-adapted heritage fig and pomegranate trees. We even carry our dishwater out to water the compost pit and our hummingbird trumpets. We turn the water off while we brush our teeth or while we soap up in the shower. You might say we're a little compulsive about the whole water thing.

But, if I'm gonna be completely honest...sometimes I don't feel like carrying a tub of water outside. I make convenient excuses like it's already raining out there. And I have to confess...I don't always turn the water off while I scrub my hair. Sometimes, just sometimes, I like to lean back and enjoy the steamy hot water massaging my worried little head. I perfect my vocal stylings as I turn the water up hotter and hotter and HOTTER. Sometimes I just have to wash away all of my cares about our 19 year drought or how Tucson's water is pushed 326 miles uphill using a dirty coal generator to power the pumps. Shoot! That just killed my buzz. I'm out of hot water anyway. Oh, well. Next time I'll do better. I'll let Dan take his shower first so the water won't go down the drain while it warms up. (My baby is so stoic and strong!) I'll turn off the water while I shave my legs. Or better yet I'll stop shaving my legs. I'll let the water mellow until Dan uses the toilet in the morning. I'll let him put a composting toilet in our cactus garden! Anything! As long as I can sing "The Way We Were" at the top of my lungs until the hot water runs out - at least once in a while.

I guess I should clarify why I wrote this blog. I don't have some deep-seeded need to confess - I'm doing the best I can right now. Changing habits is hard - as I expressed in an earlier tongue-in-cheek blog, "Spilt Tomatoes."  In this capitalist country we have been taught to consume, consume, consume. Our current economy relies on it. The only acceptable reason for most people to slow down is because it is cost prohibitive. We take our water for granted because we don't pay the real cost of it. We complain when our water bill goes up to cover those costs.  Many Arizonans have no idea where our water comes from. We're only beginning to understand the impact of our 19 year drought.

Now that we are aware, we can do something. Being conscious of our water use is the first step in conserving it. Turning the water off while we brush our teeth or we scrub our hands is a good place to start. Once that becomes a habit, it becomes easier to see other ways to conserve water. Planting native trees that don't require a lot of water is pretty painless... Dan and I really enjoy transforming our yard into a desert rainwater oasis. It is a process. A process of unlearning unsustainable consumer thinking and starting new habits. So I guess the point of this blog is that even though I'm not perfect, I can do something to make a difference. It's not easy. But it's a start.

It's time to start.


Picture on top of page: The talented Caroline Reed in The Bath-a-holic.

I wrote my Member of Congress, "Repealing Waters of the U.S. Makes it Legal to Pollute Arizona Water."

Cienega Creek Watershed that flows into Tucson's watershed
Reprinted from Desktop Activist Tucson, January 16, 2019

This morning I listened to the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler to head of the E.P.A. It was good to hear members of Congress challenging Wheeler's actions and pressing for climate action! But I was disheartened to hear Wheeler's statement that repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule would not affect the States' authority to protect their water. Unfortunately, that isn't true of Arizona. Arizona law prohibits the state from passing regulations that go beyond federal standards. So essentially repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule makes it legal to pollute our water. (See details in letter below.)

At Sustainable Tucson's environmental education meeting with Rep. Kirkpatrick, I urged her to sponsor a bill codifying the rule into law. My request is included in my water presentation that I posted here.

I wanted to share my letter encouraging Sen. Sinema to do the same. 
Dear Senator Kyrsten Sinema,
I believe that the future of Tucson depends on preserving and protecting our water supply. Towards that end, my husband and I volunteer a great deal of our time promoting conservation and rainwater harvesting. 
I am writing to urge you to work on codifying the Waters of the U.S. Rule into law - since it is currently an EPA rule that any acting president can change at will. In fact, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are already implementing Executive Order 13778 which directs federal agencies to rescind the Waters of the U.S. that included rivers that don't flow year around. Repealing this rule will have a devastating impact on our water supply. All of our waterways are connected. If we don't protect streams and non-perennial rivers, we aren't protecting the bigger rivers. Tucson, in particular, will be negatively affected by repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule. Arizona's water has already been depleted by a 19 year drought. But repealing the Water of the U.S. Rule will leave Tucson's water supply completely unprotected.

As Pima County Administrator C.H. Huckelberry stated:
Tucsonans rely on both surface water and groundwater derived by infiltration or runoff, as well as Colorado River water. History has shown that pollutants entering dry riverbeds can contaminate our drinking water. Changes in standards for the Clean Water Act would be particularly consequential in Arizona. While other states have the authority to protect the quality of streams not subject to the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction, Arizona does NOT. In Arizona, state legislation forbids state agencies from exceeding the federal regulatory framework. Therefore, any reduction in scope of federal jurisdiction may have the effect of exempting certain areas from water quality protections at the state level. 
EPA data showed that 94 percent of streams in Arizona were protected by the Waters of the U.S. rule. These streams are small but they feed into the Gila and Santa Cruz rivers. If the protections of the Clean Water Act are reduced to perennial waters, the vast majority of Arizona's streams will have no water quality protections at all. Essentially pollution becomes legal unless the state steps in. The state means the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality - which advertises that it sped up the permitting process for businesses and reduced "burdensome" laws and regulations - 48 of them.

The Waters of the US Rule affects most of Tucson’s rivers (because most are not perennial). For example, without the Waters of the US rule, there is little to stop the operators of the Rosemont mine from dumping tailings and other pollutants into Davidson Canyon where they eventually would make their way into Cienega Creek and Tucson’s water supply. This stream provides Tucson with 20% of our ground water.

Senator Sinema, it is vital for the Waters of the U.S. rule to be codified into law to protect Tucson's water supply for now and in the future. Please, do everything you can to make the Waters of the U.S. Rule a law. 
Thank you,
Jana Segal

You might consider writing your Representative and Senators to work on codifying the Waters of the US into law so it can't be changed by any acting president at will.

The details are included in the e-mail I just sent to Senator Kyrsten Sinema.  Feel free to use the facts, but personalize it so it won't sound like a form letter.

You can contact Sinema at 602-598-7327 or email contact@sinema.senate.gov.

If you would like to thank Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick for meeting with us and urge her to codify the Waters of the U.S. into law, I believe she can be reached at:

1636 North Swan Road, Suite 200
Tucson, AZ 85712

309 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2542

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Lessons from our Recycling Queen


After the city's falsely named "Recycling 101" event turned out to be more of a budget meeting than a presentation on how to recycle, Sustainable Tucson hosted our own program, "Recycling and Beyond."

We stressed to Sherri Ludlam, Environmental Scientist in the Department of Environmental and General Services, that this time we wanted her to concentrate on the rules for recycling. Her chosen topic was "old and new challenges to Tucson's recycling program." One of the new challenges was that China wouldn't be accepting all of our dirty recycling anymore because of the contamination. Contamination is all the trash that doesn't belong in recycling - including plastic bags that jam up the machines. That same contamination is costing the company contracted to do our recycling truck loads of money. Our bad. Tucsonans put everything from dirty diapers to dead cats to Saguaros in our recycling cans. Sherri reminded us that there are actual people who sort through all that yucky trash. So don't throw in anything that you wouldn't want to find in the recycling can.

Present at both meetings was a bold young woman, Sharia Des Jardins, who gamely explained why you can't recycle freezer boxes. (See reason below). Besides doling out much needed explanations for the new recycling rules, Sharia was there to ensure that conversation covered more that just the profit margin for the recycling company. And Sustainable Tucson had it covered. After an enlightening presentation on the 5 R's  () by Zero Waste Maven Alex Kosmider, we had a lively discussion that led to forming a "Zero Plastic Waste" working team.  We are already doing research to repeal the Arizona law prohibiting towns from banning plastic bags. 

Possible Zero plastics team project? 
Of course it is still important to safeguard Tucson's recycling program by following the new rules. Toward that end,  I asked Sharia to clarify the recycling rules recorded at the meeting. I like to think of Sharia as our own "Recycling Queen." 

Queen Sharia Des Jardins shares her own version of "Recycling 101"

I am the first to admit that the info put out by the city is confusing. They say that we can recycle plastic, cardboard, paper, and glass. They show us pretty pictures on a nice blue background but there is much that they actually don’t say that would be helpful. The only way in which we will be able to fulfill our part in the aspects of proper recycling is to fully understand what is and isn’t good. And by that I don’t mean what is and isn’t good for their bottom line. I mean for the planet and for our future.

So, to begin with here are the basics:

Yes – plastics, bottles and containers with numbers 1-7. What they really want for the city is 1&2 but they will take 1-7. Any bottles such as gallon milk jugs, water, soda, etc. should be lightly rinsed – preferably air dried, and the cap put back on before tossing in the bin. This goes for things such as laundry soap bottles too. Please don’t crush them either. 

Yes – ridged plastics such as buckets and storage containers. Even igloo coolers. There are some things in this category that will be dismissed at the sorting facility but trying to figure out just which ones they won’t take is too hard. If in question they ask that you trash it rather than send it to them. You can always call to get a more definitive answer for larger items.


Yes – glass – bottles, jars, etc. Lightly rinsed and air dried, no lids. (Save water by putting a little water in the bottle and shaking it..) 

Yes – aluminum cans from foods– rinse, leave labels on. Also, if you can don’t fully remove the lids. When using a can opener try to open it most of way but not fully so that the lid is still attached. The small, loose metal lids get lost at the sorting facility. 

Yes – soda cans – rinse, air dry. Please don’t crush it makes it harder for them to be sorted as they become smaller. 

Yes- paper – office paper, mailers, brochures, etc. They ask if it is small that you don’t recycle it. It just slips through the rollers at the sorting center. You can always put small slips in an envelope. Just don’t over stuff it or they will pull it off the line wondering what might be in it. 

Yes- periodicals, phone books, etc. They are easy to sort and if they haven’t been ripped apart, they should be easy to recycle.

Yes – newspapers, paper bags – don’t bundle them up, leave them loose so that they can be separated for processing. It used to be a thing for us to bundle the newsprint now they want it to be free moving to make it easier to sort and process. 


Yes – corrugated cardboard – any of those Amazon or shipping boxes. Don’t worry about the tape unless it covers more than 50% of the box. Just remember to break them down and no need to cut them up in pieces. The bigger the better to fit through the machinery at the sorting facility. 
Yes – paperboard, molded fiberboard - cereal boxes, processed food boxes, egg cartons (not Styrofoam), etc. Again, break them down if you can. 

Yes – ½ gallon milk containers coated in wax, containers from broth, soups, drink boxes that are foil lined. 
No – frozen food boxes! What! They accept waxy milk cartons, but not freezer boxes?! That’s right folks, you thought they were just a box but no, they are paperboard mixed with plastic so that when they are exposed to temperature fluctuations and wetness the boxes won’t collapse. 
No – pizza boxes – no, just no! Anything that has come into contact with food or grease is a no go. Worst contamination you can do. If the lid is clean, you can rip it off and recycle it. 

Greasy pizza box - NO! 

No – bakery boxes, takeout boxes – these have also come into contact with food and grease. If there is a single spot on it it is contaminated. Please put these in the trash not the recycling bin. 

No – loose shredded paper. This must be put into a clear plastic bag to be pulled off the line and processed by hand. The paper is too small to go through the sorters. 

Shredded paper in a see through bag so waste management workers can identify it.

No – plastic lids for containers such as yogurt and sour cream. Those lids are actually made of lower grade plastics than the containers themselves. They are also small and less likely to stay on through transport than tops that screw on. Once loose they will fall through the rollers at the sorting facility or gunk them up and cause shutdowns. 


No – plastic films that that are security covers - such as the lift off ones on yogurt containers. Those aren’t even recyclable at the shops. 

No – Styrofoam in recycling cans. The city has no way to recycle this. 


No – compostable containers. These may be from lettuce or other produce/foods. These are not made of plastics that are recyclable. They are made to break down in the landfill or your compost pit. 
No – plastic bags – absolutely not! They are the bane of recycling centers across the nation. If you must take them from the grocery stores, please return them to a participating store that will recycle them for you. They go to a completely different type of facility to be processed. 

Remember these guys...


What to take to your local grocery stores that accept recycling:  Plastic bags, deflated air pillows from shipping, Tyvek packaging, plastic shipping envelopes, etc. If the plastic had foods in it or has become dirty or sticky, please at least rinse and dry if not clean before recycling. You can contaminate a whole bin while the shop waits for it to be full enough to send off for processing. 

No – trash – this includes anything you know for sure won’t ever have another use. Things like used diapers, kitty litter, doggy doo, broken stuff. Furniture, strollers, etc. 

Please remember that when you put things in your recycling bin that aren’t recyclable someone has to pull those things out. If you wouldn’t want to touch them, please don’t make them do it either. Consider compassionate recycling!

Guest blogger Sharia Des Jardins
sharia@shariadesjardins.com

Sharia has been doing eco/green coaching professionally for the last 3 years. She managed an eco-friendly home and kitchen store in Portland for many years. While running the T-Rex Museum in Tucson - sustainability, ecology and recycling were part of every group tour for the 6 years she was there. She made sure that every staff member ended their tours with the inevitability of human extinction if we continue in the manner of which we are accustomed to treating the planet. She has been educating friends and family for the last 20 years about what they can do. Sharia also works part time at Jen’s Organic Home and Baby here in Tucson since her return to the city in April 2018 after over a decade of living in the Pacific Northwest.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Sustainable Tucson's holiday party: "Celebrate Our Sustainable Future."

You are invited to Sustainable Tucson's holiday party.

Tuesday, December. 11, 6-8:30 p.m. (Doors open at 5:30 p.m.)
St Mark's Presbyterian Church, 3809 E 3rd St. Geneva Room
(Parking on 3rd St. and 2nd St. 2nd St. lot is closer to the Geneva Rm.)

Share the bounty of the season at our holiday potluck. Non-alcoholic drinks provided by Sustainable Tucson. Save a dinosaur; bring your own flatware and glasses.

REASON TO CELEBRATE 
If you read the recent IPCC study on climate change, you might not think there is much to celebrate this holiday season. The idea that climate change is progressing faster than first predicted can be quite a jolt, even if you’re already working to fight it. But it could also be an opportunity to come together as a community to envision and create a better, more sustainable and resilient Tucson!
At this year's holiday party, Sustainable Tucson will be celebrating the possibilities by creating a festival atmosphere with street fair activities:
Design Your Dream Neighborhood: Create a walk-able, inviting neighborhood from a typical Tucson neighborhood map using blocks that represent elements of complete streets. (Model built by Changemaker High School students.)
Creating Our Future: Draw the ways we can create a sustainable future for Tucson by 2038 on panels we will join together into a paper quilt.
Community Tree: Add leaves with your ideas about what we can do as a community to make Tucson Sustainable by 2038.
Time Capsule: Place your note to the future in our time capsule to be opened in a year: What are your hopes for Tucson or what will you make happen in Tucson in the coming year?
"Tales of Future" storytelling stage: Local Comedian Jeremy Segal will host impromptu stories about pursuing your vision for a sustainable future and other fun environmental stories.

Come celebrate with us!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Strengthened by the Storm

It has been a turbulent year. Since President Trump was elected, it has been a constant battle against the relentless storm that is the Trump Administration. The constant assaults on our land and water.
Being bombarded with bill after bill repealing or dismantling our hard fought for environmental protections. 

My one respite from that storm was getting out in the morning light and seeing our beloved moringas finally flourishing. By the end of August the largest one was blooming and bearing fruit.  The long awaited pods were 8 inches long and nearly ready to be cooked into a yummy Filipino stew.  

But then the storm (remnants of Hurricane Rosa) hit our little food forest.


One night we came home to this.



With heavy hearts, we tried to salvage what we could of the pods and leaves. 

 Sadly, the pods were still too thin to eat or save for seeds.  


I did manage to save most of the leaves...

That was little consolation.



 But our moringas had lessons to teach. 

Our fallen moringa came back, as moringas do

Reminding me to hang loose...


While the lazy, unpruned moringa droops and strains from its own weight 

threatening to tip over if a carpenter bee lands on a misplaced flower. 


The moringa that was savaged by the storm 

is stronger and fuller for its struggle.

Pruned back by the micro burst

the edible leaves are now greener than ever and in easy reach

as they were meant to be.

The forces of nature accomplished what we couldn't.




Watching our durable moringa grow strong gives me hope. 

A sign that our country could be strengthened

by our struggle with the storm. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Tucson a hub for Ecotourism? Maybe...Share your preferences for our Tourism Master Plan



As part of their effort to create a 10-year tourism master plan, Visit Tucson is seeking insights from people who live and work in Metro Tucson. Responses to the survey (link below) will help those involved in this planning effort to better understand and respond to the community's experience and quality of life issues. It takes an estimated 15 minutes to complete

This is your chance to share your vision of a sustainable Tucson. For me, that includes restoring the Santa Cruz with a riparian area that would attract more of our state's ecotourism visitors to Tucson. Tourism brings in 23 billion dollars to Arizona. Ecotourism is a big part of that. Bird watchers come from around the world to enjoy the Sky Island's biodiversity. Developing our bike routes, increasing our tree cover, improving our air quality, and even keeping trash picked up will enhance that experience and inspire those tourists to include Tucson in their vacation plans. Expanding green infrastructure and complete streets with shady sidewalks and safe bike paths would encourage visitors and Tucsonans to slow down and enjoy local businesses (instead of rushing them out of town - which widening Broadway would do...)

What is your vision for Tucson? Would you like to ride your bike along a flowing river surrounded by twisty mesquite? Enjoy the sight of hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators fluttering around desert shrubs and local art in a traffic calming median? Shop at a farmers market in your neighborhood? Enjoy community events and music in an outdoor arena? 

This is your chance to share your preferences with Visit Tucson.