Confessions of a San Carlos Green Activist

By Pat Potter

Black_smoke_car-croppedIs it time to take things into our own hands? Lately, I’ve become less intimidated about knocking on a neighbor’s door when I see the environment being abused. My neighbors probably think I’m hysterical (not in a funny way..) but when I walked by a gardener’s diesel pickup truck that had been idling for over 15 minutes, I blew up at him. (Sorry neighbors!) I just made it clear that he had no right to pollute our neighborhood—I think he got the message.

Then a day or so later I’m walking in the neighborhood and see all this water spilling into the street from a leaking 4” hose. I thought I should let the homeowner know that their water was going into the street. No one answered when I knocked, but someone was in the back. It turned out to be their pool guy. He said he was dumping the pool water down the curb drain because he couldn’t find any other place to put it. I think this means that all those pool chemicals went into the Bay instead of the sewer for treatment. I learned that there is a fine for doing this—didn’t know it at the time.

wasted_water-croppedWalking up the Elizabeth St. hill became too painful for me a month or so ago—not physically, but emotionally. For several mornings in a row I would walk the hill only to watch a full-flowing creek of water running down the street’s gutter and into the curb drain. It hurt too much to see it every morning. So I changed my route. Then a few days ago I thought I’d give it another try. It was dry! Why? Because a San Carlos Green member who lives on Elizabeth took action, contacted her neighbor, and the sprinkler malfunction was fixed!

My point is that once you speak up about an obvious environmental issue in the neighborhood, it gets a lot easier to do it the next time. And if we all speak up, think how great that would be for San Carlos!

Tell us your Activist story that has helped San Carlos’s environment. We’d love to hear it, and if you give us permission, will put in our next e-mail blast.

EPA Clean Power Plan – overview video


“It’s about getting all the power we need, with less of what we don’t need: pollution.”

Introduced by Janet McCabe of the EPA, this 25 minute video includes an clear and concise overview of climate change, Clean Air Act Section 111, and important parts of the proposed Clean Power Plan.

To find out more and get involved, go to



Home Depot labelling plants with Neonicotinoids

bee_on_sedum-IMG_4067This article from the Great Sunflower Project has good news about Home Depot stepping up to do the right thing for pollinators!  Having a huge force in the market like Home Depot requiring labeling of plants is a big step in the right direction.  There’s more and more compelling science that implicates certain pesticides in harming honey bees. Check out the web site, and our sustainable gardening page for alternatives that are safer to use.

Conservation 101 free class, July 10

The RecycleWorks Volunteer Academy is designed to train volunteers about resource conservation topics and send them out into their communities to be a volunteer force of citizens. This free educational program is made available through the County of San Mateo. Resource Conservation 101 participants agree to give back to the community a minimum of 10 hours of volunteer service in the form of approved educational outreach throughout the County.  See the details in the flyer: RVA_Flyer_2014.pdf

Is it too hard to recycle smoke alarms?

234px-Residential_smoke_detectorI had heard that smoke alarms should be replaced every 8-10 years, so I took a look at the alarms installed in my house. I found that many of them should have been replaced years ago, and decided to replace them all.  This left me with eight old smoke detectors and a question: How can I dispose of them?
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