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Zero Emissions Day
The newest Climate Report from the IPCC stated that human contribution to climate change in the form of greenhouse gas emissions is “unequivocal.” On September 21st we observe zero emissions day, or ZeDay, to give the planet one day off from climate warming emissions.
While eliminating emissions completely may not be possible for you on this day, here are some things that you can do to observe ZeDay:
- Learn more about the sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Boca Raton and the impacts of climate change by exploring the City’s greenhouse gas inventory and the regional climate change vulnerability assessment.
- Learn more about electric vehicles by watching the City’s virtual ride and drive webinar and finding all of the City’s free and publicly accessible electric vehicle chargers.
- Consider installing solar electricity on your home or business. Go to the City’s Go Solar page to learn more.
- Consider biking or taking public transportation instead of your car for one trip today. Go to the sustainable transportation page to learn more.
- Plant a tree! Learn more about the City’s tree canopy and read the new tree canopy assessment.
National Water Quality Month
August is National Water Quality Month! In Boca Raton we are surrounded by water, from the Ocean and Intracoastal to our canals and lakes water quality is a part of our quality of life. The City works hard to maintain water quality but there is a lot that individuals can do to help. Check out the list below to learn 8 things that YOU can do to protect water quality in Boca Raton.
8 things you can do in Boca Raton to protect your water (adopted from nationalwaterqualitymonth.org):
- Wash your car at a car wash. While washing your car at home can save money, the water in car washes drain to the sewer where the water is treated in the City’s wastewater treatment plant and reused for irrigation through the City’s IRIS program. Water that runs off your driveway into the storm drains does not get treated before running into canals and other waterways.
- Pick up after your pet. Waste from our domestic pets can add nitrogen to the water increasing eutrophication and decreasing available oxygen. Why does pet waste have this impact more than wildlife waste? The short answer is diet.
- Keep yard waste from the storm drains. Did you know that in Boca Raton it is illegal to blow grass and other landscape clippings into storm drains and water bodies? The nutrients from this organic matter and any fertilizer they may carry can add excess nutrients to our waterways and facilitate harmful algal growth. Mulch or bag grass clippings instead and rake up and compost leaves.
- Follow the Florida Friendly Fertilizer rules. Do you know the best way to fertilize your lawn? Most people use more fertilizer than they need resulting in unnecessary costs and nutrient rich runoff. Don’t use fertilizer with phosphorus, use just as much as you need, and avoid fertilizing when there is rain in the forecast. Learn more on the City’s Florida Friendly Fertilizer page.
- Reduce runoff from your roof and driveway. The first inch of rain from your roof or driveway is the most toxic, carrying with it the most oils, dirt, and other pollutants. Reduce the amount of this runoff that enters storm drains and waterways. Planting trees, installing rain barrels, using pervious pavement, planting rain gardens, and maintaining your swale all help to reduce or capture stormwater runoff.
- Take oils, chemicals, and paints to an appropriate collection center. The Solid Waste Authority has Household Hazardous Waste drive through collection sites that are easy and convenient ways to dispose of chemicals, oils, and paints (as well as electronics, batteries, lightbulbs, and other things that shouldn’t go into the bin). These substances should never be poured down a storm drain, sink, or toilet.
- Do not dispose of medicine down a drain or toilet. Many of the compounds that are found in pharmaceuticals are not filtered by wastewater treatment methods and can become pollutants in the water ways. At the same time, it can be dangerous to dispose of medicines in the trash where they could be accessible by children or others. There are multiple pill drop-off boxes around the county courtesy of the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition. Learn more and find locations from SWA.org.
- Be careful about the ingredients of soaps, cleaning products, and cosmetics. Antibacterial soaps, many harsh cleaning products, and even sunscreens can be damaging to aquatic life. Use these products in moderation or replace them with versions that contain gentler chemicals.
Learn more about stormwater pollution from the City’s Stormwater Management division.
Beach Cleanup - July 17, 8am-10am - Spanish River Beach Park
Join the City of Boca Raton’s Office of Sustainability in an effort to remove harmful plastics and other trash from our beaches. This Beach Cleanup is part of a Sustainable Summer in Boca Raton, and supports Plastic Free July in Boca Raton by keeping plastics out the mouths of sea turtles, birds, and other animals that call these ecosystems home!
Sustainable Summer - Plastic Reduction Pledge
On World Oceans Day in June the City Council of Boca Raton took a big step in protecting oceans, marine life, human health, and the coastal economy by passing Ordinance 5580: Waste Reduction.
Be a part of the solution!
Take the City's Plastic Reduction Pledge.
- Each person who takes the pledge will receive a coupon code for 15% off the Sustainable Living Collection at the Gumbo Limbo Gift shop.
- By signing the pledge you can earn 20 miles towards Migration Madness.
Read more about the ordinance and the rules on polystyrene foam and balloons and confetti on the City's website. On the website you will also find information and resources about single use plastic reduction.
And don't forget, July is "Plastic Free July"! Sign up at plasticfreejuly.org.
If you are signing the pledge on behalf of a restaurant, don't forget to become a Coastal Connection Restaurant.
Sustainable Summer - Energy Efficiency
On Friday, June 18, 2021 the City of Boca Raton is encouraging you to observe Daylight Hour. Daylight Hour takes places annually on the Friday closest to the summer solstice (the day with the most hours of sunlight) and strives to raise awareness of energy efficiency and daylighting – using daylight instead of artificial light.
From Noon to 1pm flip off your light switch and work or recreate by daylight. Spend some time thinking about the other ways you can save energy and improve the environment this summer.
Energy Efficiency Resources:
- FPL Ways to Save programs: www.fpl.com/save/programs.html
- Department of Energy Home Energy Checklist: www.energy.gov/eere/femp/home-energy-checklist
- Department of Energy DIY Home energy audits: www.energy.gov/energysaver/home-energy-audits/do-it-yourself-home-energy-audits
Join the City of Boca Raton as we celebrate the 51st Earth Day this April.
Visit the Earth Month 2021 page to learn more about how to participate in the City Nature Challenge and Project Shade Tree! Learn about EV's from a racecar driver and sea level rise from a local author!
Black History Month
February is recognized as Black History Month in the United States. This February, take some time to get to know some of the black men and women who have shaped American environmental history and the scientists and activists currently working to change the world.
These resources are a great place to start:
- 6 Black Environmentalists who Changed History [sierraclub.org}
- African American Leaders in Science and Conservation [nature.org]
- Black Climate Scientists and Scholars Changing the World [greenmatters.com]
- Celebrating Black Environmentalists [sfenvironment.org]
Holiday Trees: Real or Fake?
'Tis the season for the annual debate: real tree or fake tree? While in the grand scheme of the environmental impact of the holidays what type of tree you use may be a small contributor, there are a few ways to make your choice a little more sustainable.
GOOD: If you prefer a fake tree, make sure to buy a high quality and classic tree you can use for many years. Each year it is reused, the less the environmental impact of the choice.
BETTER: If you prefer a real tree, make sure it is recycled! The City of Boca Raton collects holiday trees every year and turns them into fragrant mulch to be used in City parks. Drop off begins December 26th at Countess de Hornle Park. Learn more on the City's website.
BEST: The most sustainable choice would be to forget the traditional tree and decorate a potted native tree that you can plant in your yard after the New Year. If you would like a free tree, the City has a limited number of Bald Cypress, Dahoon Holly, and Live Oaks to deliver to your door! For more information, go to the City's Tree Give Aways page.
For more sustainable holiday tips, follow Gumbo Limbo Nature Center on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for their #sustainablesunday series.
America Recycles Day
We've all heard the phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle." Did you know that those three words were listed in order of importance.
FIRST. . . Reduce the waste you are producing. Avoid disposable products and unnecessary consumption.
SECOND. . . Reuse, repair, and repurpose any item that you can so that it does not become waste.
THIRD. . . If after reducing and reusing there is something to be disposed, if it can be recycled it should be recycled.
This America Recycles Day challenge yourself to not just Reduce, Reuse and Recycle but to actively REFUSE single use plastics. Learn more about #Refuse from Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
Visit the Videos and Webinars page on the City's Sustainability page to learn more about how to move "beyond the bag" and to virtually tour the Solid Waste Authority's recycling and renewable energy facilities and to hear from the Municipal Services Director on the challenges with solid waste collection during COVID-19.
Finally, visit the City's sanitation pages to learn how to Recycle Right in Boca Raton.
Celebrate Energy Efficiency Day by Planting a Tree!
October 7th is Energy Efficiency Day and, in Boca Raton, October is Tree Month! Did you know that trees can actually save you energy?
Trees, when planted in the right place, can shade your home and prevent it from heating up which will save you on your cooling related costs. Not only that, but trees actually help lower ambient temperatures which reduces not just cooling costs but encourages more time outdoors. Learn more about this and other benefits at arborday.org.
In September, park your car and go emission free!
In the month of September there are three days focusing on reducing or eliminating emissions, particularly from cars!
- Park[ing] day on September 18th (Parking Day’s Roadside Attraction, Smithsonianmag.org)
- Zero Emissions Day on September 21st (14 things to know about zero emissions day and car free day Recyclebank.com)
- Car Free Day on September 22nd (World Car Free Day is a great opportunity to reduce air pollution. UNEnvironment.org)
All three of these days recognize the contribution emissions of carbon dioxide from energy use, particularly energy use for transportation, plays in climate change. What can we do to take action?
- Over the weekend, look for things to do around town that don’t require a car. Ride a bike on any of Boca Raton’s multi-use trails or check out Downtown Boca’s self-guided walking tours.
- Have you been working from home during the pandemic? Telework has many benefits, including reducing emissions related to work commutes. If possible for your job, try keeping the telework habit at least a day or two a week (and scroll down to learn how to conserve energy while working at home).
- If you can’t leave your car behind, challenge yourself to be extra mindful of people on bikes or people walking while you are driving around town. Remind yourself of the rules of the road to do your part to keep yourself and everyone else safe.
Plastic Free July
Daylight Hour – Lights OFF, savings ON!
Conserve Energy While Working at Home
Over the past few months many of us have done a lot more working from home. While there are a lot of economic, health, and environmental benefits to working from home, so much so that Project Drawdown lists Telepresence as one of the top 100 actions to solve climate change. While telecommuting may reduce electricity used in commercial buildings and traffic congestion related to commutes, one place where it may not be saving us is in our home electric bills. Here are some tips to saving money and energy while working from home.
- Make your utility work for you. Florida Power and Light offers tools such as an online energy survey, rebate programs, and even opportunities to be involved in solar programs.
- Keep your cool. Especially as we start to enter the hotter months of summer, a big part of our energy bills will be on cooling. Without the daily break of heading in to the office, A/C units in homes around the City are working double time. Make sure that your windows and doors are properly sealed (Visit energy.gov for tips) and that your A/C unit is running efficiently (learn how at energy.gov). Next, try raising your house temperature a few degrees. Every degree warmer saves up to 5% on energy bills. Stay cool in occupied rooms by running fans and keep heat generating activities, like cooking in the oven, to a minimum. Use your outdoor grill and dust off your slow or pressure cookers instead.
- Use power strips. By plugging your whole work station in to one power strip you can unplug when you are ready to unplug! Turning off the power strip ensures you are not using standby energy or inadvertently keeping accessories such as printers, speakers, or even lamps on when you don’t need them. (Energy.gov has more information.)
- Make your computer more energy efficient. Check your computer settings and make sure all the "eco" settings are selected to maximize the life of your battery and use less energy. (Energy.gov can help)
- Practice device minimalism. Perhaps you are used to working on multiple monitors or devices. Take stock of what you really need and reduce the number of power using devices you need for your work.
- Let in the sun. Whenever possible work in spaces with daylight and turn off the lights! Join the City on June 19th to celebrate Daylight Hour by making sure your lights are off from 12-1!
How to reduce the impact of plastic bags:
- REDUCE your use. Invest in a few reusable bags and reuse them frequently. Cloth bags have their own environmental impact, so try to avoid accumulating too many freebies. The more plastic bags a reusable bag displaces, the better it is for the environment.
- REUSE plastic bags. Inevitably, some plastic bags will make it into your home. Give those bags as many additional lives as possible by using them to displace other plastic bags and containers, for example, as trash liners or storage bags.
- RECYCLE your bags. If you have more bags than you can reuse, bring them to a recycle bin located at a local retailer but DO NOT put them in your blue or yellow bin.
Once you’ve cleaned up your own plastic bag habits, reach out to some of local businesses that you frequent and request they clean up theirs. Let them know you’d like to see efforts to reduce or eliminate plastic bags! Support businesses that are already reducing plastic through the City’s Coastal Connection program.
What is the City doing?
On January 13th, 2020 the City Council passed a RESOLUTION strongly encouraging the Florida Legislature to address the environmental impact of single-use plastic bags and polystyrene materials by developing meaningful regulations limiting the use of single-use plastic bags and polystyrene materials and/or by eliminating the State preemption of regulations regarding the use, restriction and prohibition of single-use plastic bags and polystyrene materials.
Save the Date for April 4th - Springfest! The City’s spring festival also serves as our kick off to Earth Month. Come see how the City is working to green our events.
STAY TUNED for more announcements and actions from the City regarding single use plastic.
Wondering why we need to reduce single use plastics? One good reason, plastic waste impacts our oceans and wildlife! (YES, even if we recycle and YES, even though most of the ocean plastic comes from overseas - where many of our products are manufactured and disposed). How can you learn more?
- Watch WLRN’s documentary Troubled Waters, a Turtle’s Tale at https://turtletale.org/ to see how the ocean is being impacted and what Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and similar organizations are doing about it.
- Follow Gumbo Limbo Nature Center on social media and tune in for their #wakeupwednesday posts detailing a problem and one thing you can do about it!
- Learn more about what is being done around the world. National Geographic keeps a running list of actions on plastic pollution to help keep you up to date.
Low Waste Holidays!
The holiday season is a great time to connect with family and friends and take park in many festive activities hosted by the City and others! It is also a time where the boxes, packaging, single use party supplies pile up! Follow some simple tips to keeping it under control this year.
- Replacing your old twinkle lights with LED to save energy? Recycle your old lights at one of SWA’s drop off locations.
- Buy fewer gifts and give experiences instead! Support local businesses and organizations by giving gift cards or memberships or buy tickets to upcoming events. Visit downtownboca.org for ideas!
- Throw a low waste party! Find some tips at MarthaStewart.com and Going Zero Waste.
- Get creative with your gift wrap! Use newspaper or paper bags and paint to create unique recycled paper! Get more ideas from trashisfortossers.com.
November 15th is America Recycles Day!
RECYCLE RIGHT! November 15th is America Recycles Day! Making the right choice between the trash bin and the recycle bins is the most important factor in a successful recycling program. Are you recycling right? Find out at SWA.org.
FIELD TRIP!! Or better yet, go see for yourself. Every time you recycle something or throw it away it heads to SWA’s facility in West Palm Beach. Take a trip to learn about “Away” with the City. Find out more on event page and register online.
Here are some tips on how to RECYCLE RIGHT!
- Plastic bags CAN NOT go in you blue or yellow bins! Make sure your recyclables are loose in the bin and take your bags to collection bins at your grocery store (or better yet, switch to reusable bags!)
- Plastic bottle caps CAN be recycled. Just put them back on the bottle and throw them in the blue bin! (Or better yet, skip plastic bottles and use reusable instead!)
- Paper can only be recycled if it is clean and dry. This is why paper plates, paper towels, and pizza boxes cannot be recycled! Well, not all of the pizza box, anyway. If there is no cheese or other food on the lid, separate it from the greasy bottom half. Throw the bottom in the trash and the lid in the recycling!
- The #1 enemy of recycling is contamination which is often caused by WISHcycling, or throwing something in the bin because we hope it can be recycled. Remember to follow the Recycle Right guidelines and follow the mantra “when in doubt – throw it out!”
Do you want to recycle at your business or commercial property?
The Solid Waste Authority can help your business set up its recycling program! Adding recycling could even lower your waste bill!
October 2 is Energy Efficiency Day!
Fall is here just in time for us to finally get a little break on our air conditioning bills! Save money on energy all year round by increasing your home’s efficiency. Did you know that FPL offers free home energy surveys? Or you can conduct a DIY home energy audit. Find lots of way to save on your energy bill through simple switches on the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver site.
October is walk/bike to school month
It is October and the weather is finally starting to cool off! Why not enjoy the fall weather while walking or biking with your kids to school? Organize with some other families in your neighborhood to ride or walk together and take the opportunity to get some activity in your kids’ day and teach them about bicycle and pedestrian safety! Go to http://www.walkbiketoschool.org/ for ideas!
Tree Give Away
The City hosted their first ever FREE tree give away on September 28th with their partner Community Greening. The event was a huge success, the trees went fast! The City of Boca Raton was able to add 100 trees to our urban canopy and provide residents with trees that will provide them benefits for years to come! Did you get a tree? Make sure you are following Sustainable Tree Maintenance guidelines for where to plant and how to maintain it. Missed out on a tree? Watch for the Beautification Committee’s Project Shade Tree this spring.
International Coastal Cleanup
The International Coastal Cleanup took place on September 21st and over 600 pounds of trash were collected from Boca Raton’s beaches. Check out the Ocean Conservancy’s top ten items collected graphic. Many of these items are disposable plastic with easy disposal solutions and reusable alternatives! Plastic bottle caps can be placed back on the bottle for recycling, or better yet, drink from reusable bottles! Skip the straw and bring your snacks in reusable packaging. Remember to think about what you are bringing to the beach and the impact it might have if left behind.
Don’t forget to Recycle Right!
The number one easiest thing you can do to reduce your environmental impact is to reduce waste!
Go plastic free or zero waste. There are lots of fun and informative blogs out there such as Zero Waste Home, Going Zero Waste, and Trash is for Tossers. Remember, to make a difference we don’t need a few people eliminating waste completely, we need everyone reducing waste a little!
Anything that must be disposed of should be recycled when possible. Remember, reducing contamination is essential to ensuring the sustainability of recycling systems. Find out what can and cannot go in your blue and yellow bins and what to do with everything else from the Solid Waste Authority of Palm Beach County.