A November holiday about resources
What November holiday brings attention to Americans’ bounty of natural resources? Thanksgiving? Perhaps. But also America Recycles Day.

America Recycles Day, celebrated last week, has been organized annually for the past 18 years by Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit organization funded by the U.S. EPA and major corporations; this year’s message focused on “recycling right.”

The America Recycles Day website listed events nationwide and promoted a recycling pledge drive. The pledge campaign asks participants not just to recycle, but to find out what materials can and cannot be recycled in their communities. This is an important step to avoid contamination of recyclables. For example, bottle glass can be recycled in any local curbside recycling program, but if you mix in glass from windows, picture frames, mirrors or ceramics, it harms the cause of recycling by making the resulting mixture undesirable to manufacturers who buy recycled glass.

For more information: www.americarecyclesday.org

Thanksgiving: Share the bounty
A better-known November holiday, Thanksgiving, is a good time to share with those who do not have as much on their tables. FOOD Share, Ventura County’s nonprofit regional food bank, normally accepts both shelf-stable food and food requiring use of its refrigerators or freezers. Since it is not open, however, from Thanksgiving until the following Monday, it is not able to directly accept prepared Thanksgiving food. Instead, caterers are urged to contact FOOD Share prior to the weekend, at 983-7100. Agency Relations team members will provide contact information for a nearby food pantry where unserved, prepared food can be delivered directly.

For more information:

A less often heard Thanksgiving message
The pilgrims came to the New World with faith in God to provide resources needed for survival. Arriving too close to winter, they struggled with the bitter reality of a hostile wilderness. Half died in the first year.

Similarly, the Indian tribe that shared the first Thanksgiving, the Wampanoag, had been recently decimated by disease.

Modern medicine now keeps epidemics at bay, and the threat of a dark wilderness overwhelming a pilgrim settlement has been replaced by a wilderness yielding to human development. The Center for a New American Dream therefore contends that we face a new danger as a result of our triumph over the types of hardship faced by our American ancestors.

In a series of online videos, where a cartoonist in superfast motion creates illustrations as a narrator speaks, the Center contends the resource consumption and waste production at this time of year spawn depression and anxiety, sometimes resulting in substance abuse. With over 600,000 hits, the message is resonating, urging Americans to “simplify the holidays.”

Rather than focusing on Black Friday sales, it encourages “the good life over the goods life,” and an emphasis on social gatherings, spirituality, playing sports, developing skills, gardening, enjoying the arts and committing to “no child left inside” (enjoying nature with children). It conceded that the campaign is an uphill battle, with little chance to overcome sometimes contradicting messages promoted through what it claims is $150 billion per year spent to promote products (advertising) in America.

For more information: www.newdream.org

Nature still threatens

Although most modern Americans are secure from the devastation faced by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag, our safety is still threatened occasionally by nature.

Such a threat could be imminent for some. El Niño storms are coming soon.

Prepare by clearing debris from gutters, waterways and agricultural ditches. Overgrown vegetation should be trimmed, debris and anything stored in waterways should be removed. If areas are known to flood, sandbags and straw wattles (fiber rolls) may be used as a temporary solution for diverting water and limiting pollutants entering waterways.

Storm-water management not only avoids damage due to flooding and erosion, but also prevents pollution. The most common “pollutant” in storm-water runoff is sediment. Sediment buildup not only impedes water flow, it discharges into rivers and streams, making them murky, which inhibits fish and other aquatic life from receiving necessary sunlight and oxygen. This problem can be reduced with erosion control and natural filters. Native vegetation such as woody shrubs and natural grasses are particularly effective in stabilizing soil and filtering pollutants. Because there is not ample time to establish this vegetation before the rains come, you may need straw wattles, jute or fiber blankets, all of which are made to biodegrade.

Free LED holiday light exchange
On a brighter note, you can recycle your old light strands and replace them with free LED holiday lights on Dec. 5, 8 a.m.-noon, at the Ventura County Government Center; 800 S. Victoria Ave., parking lot B. RSVP at 654-3664.

Visit upcoming events page on the net: www.vcenergy.org

Eye on the Environment is a service of the Ventura County Public Works Agency. This month’s Eye on the Environment article included text regarding El Niño from Dana Bogdanich