Local groups give advice on saving the planet

POULSBO — It’s not just about Earth Day. It’s about every day.

That’s what conservation and environmental groups in Kitsap County are saying. Changing habits and getting out and getting involved are the two key points.

“Join an environmental or conservation group,” said Sandra Staples-Bortner, executive director of the Great Peninsula Conservancy. “Volunteer with these groups. We offer stewardship activities throughout the year.”

An example, she said, is the work currently being done in the Port Gamble Forest at Heritage Park, in north Kitsap County.

The park recently received an additional 1,300 acres and volunteers are working to create trails and view sites overlooking the bay.

“Right now w e have about 700 active members and they all support us in different ways,” she said.

According to its website, The Great Peninsula Conservancy believes that the region’s shorelines, streams, forests and open spaces are still critical to the health and well being of its people and communities. As the area attracts more people and development, the region’s natural resources are under increasing pressure. The landscapes that sustained previous generations and drew many of us to this place are changing.

The region’s population is expected to nearly double by decade’s end – a growth trend that is expected to continue through the first quarter of this century.

As a land trust, the Conservancy uses many tools to assist landowners and communities in their preservation efforts. Call 360-373-3500, or go to www.greatpeninsula.org to find out about volunteer activities.

Even the “Zero Waste Lady” agrees that individual actions can help.

Diane Landry, chairman of Zero Waste for Sustainable Bainbridge, who is known as the “Zero Waste Lady,” said start with your own energy use.

“Think about energy use, because that is going to be more impactful,” Landry said. “Like in our house, we close the doors to the rooms we aren’t using, just to save heat. And try to carpool. That will take more cars off the road.”

Another message from Landry, “Clean your plate.”

“There’s a real push on right now to reduce the amount of food waste we produce,” she said. “Just cook what you’re going to eat. Or eat your leftovers. And when you eat out, eat what your ordered.”

Another idea from Landry is to reduce the amount of clothing you buy.

“Clothing manufacturing is the second-biggest user of energy,” Landry said. “So think about swapping clothes with someone, or buy recycled clothing at the bargain boutiques.”

Since coming to the island, Landry has been active with Sustainable Bainbridge, an organization that supports cooperation and collaboration among a broad-based network of local organizations, businesses, government and individuals to protect and strengthen our community’s economic, social and environmental sustainability for current and future generations.

The group she is in charge of, Zero Waste, is an off-shoot of Sustainable Bainbridge and meets monthly to address how Bainbridge Island can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in its landfill.

Landry can quote statistics off the top of her head.

“Did you know it takes 70 cans of (raw) material to create what’s in the average one can of trash?” she asked. “And an aluminum pop can …if you recycle it, it saves about 95 percent the original energy that it took to make it.”

The idea behind Zero Waste, she said, is to reduce, reuse and recycle, in order to save energy and lessen the amount of trash that ends up in the landfill.

Zero Waste also sponsors a table at the Saturday Bainbridge Island Farmers Market once a month where you can find out more about recycling. Go to www.sustainablebainbridge.org for more.

Another group, The Bainbridge Island Land Trust, offers ways to support the local environment.

The Bainbridge Island Land Trust’s mission is to preserve and steward the diverse natural environment of Bainbridge Island for the benefit of all. To achieve this goal, the Bainbridge Island Land Trust acquires interests in land having significant or potentially significant conservation values such as scenic vistas, wetlands, open spaces, tidelands, forest, unique plant and animal habitats and stream and wildlife corridors.

“We work with private landowners to protect their land using land protection agreements called conservation easements,” said Jane Stone, executive director. “We also work with a variety of partners to acquire land for parks, trails and public use.”

One opportunity with BI Land Trust is its First Wednesday Work Parties. The monthly event takes place on various Land Trust conserved properties.

“We perform a variety of work tasks, including but not limited to invasive species removal, native species planting, and trail maintenance. Folks of all ages, experience levels, and backgrounds are welcome to join us.”

There’s also a brown bag lunch and talk today (April 14) at the Bainbridge Community Center beginning at 11:45 a.m. where they’ll be tallking trash.

“Actually, weeds,” Staples said. “We’ll learn about the ‘Dirty Dozen’ the 12 most invasive weeds around here.”

And folks can pull those weeds in the “All Island Weed Pull” every Sunday in April. There’s free disposal at the Bainbridge Island waste site on these Sundays.

For more, go to www.bi-landtrust.org.