Women's Environmental Watch http://www.we-watch.org Working together to sustain the beauty and environment of the Santa Ynez Valley Sat, 27 Aug 2016 17:28:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 102785068 Those Pesky Pesticides http://www.we-watch.org/those-pesky-pesticides/ Thu, 17 Sep 2015 22:10:25 +0000 http://www.we-watch.org/?p=514 WE Watch sponsors Pesticides Lecture

 Those Pesky Pesticides:  Connectivity and Consequences

 Dr. Jay Means, an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Toxicology in the Bren School at UCSB, will present a lecture entitled, “Those Pesky Pesticides: Connectivity and Consequences” on Saturday, October 10, 4:00 p.m. in Stacy Hall at St. Mark’s Church. This free event, followed by a reception, is one of a series of informative presentations sponsored by WE Watch.JayMeans

We live in an age when we come into contact with thousands of natural and synthetic chemicals each year.  They are in the air, water, soil and the foods we eat.  Of the more than 80,000 chemicals in commerce today, one group- pesticides- is unique because pesticides are intentionally designed to be toxic.  While these chemicals have benefits protecting our food supply and preventing the spread of certain diseases, pesticides have been shown to cause adverse effects on so-called non-target species of organisms like fish, birds, our pets and us.  Humans work and live connected inseparably to ecological systems around us that bring us all into contact with the pesticides we use.  The consequences of this contact are often unknown or underestimated and only rarely understood.


Dr. Means is a semi-retired university professor and administrator.  Dr. Means was a Diplomat of the American Board of Toxicology [2007-2012] and is a Fellow of the Academy of Toxicological Sciences.  Over the course of his career, Dr. Means has been involved in the development and application of trace analytical methodology to the analysis of environmental media using state-of-the-art instrumentation and has published over 120 peer-reviewed papers in the area of analytical chemistry, environmental chemistry and toxicology of organic chemicals in aquatic systems including groundwater, major river and lake systems, estuaries and coastal marine regions.  He has been the principal investigator of dozens of grants and contracts totaling over $15 million dollars dealing specifically with the biogeochemistry, chemodynamics, and toxicological of trace metals, organic and organo-metallic substances in aquatic organisms, mammals and man.  Dr. Means has an established research and publication record concerning chemodynamic processes that govern the fate and distribution of hydrophobic organics in aquatic and has worked with herbicides, hydrocarbons, PCBs and pesticides in these studies for over 40 years. In total, Dr. Means has advised 26 doctoral students and 14 Masters student in the fields of toxicology, and environmental chemistry. He is currently serving as an Adjunct Professor of Environmental Toxicology in the Bren School at UCSB.

Start Your Own Victory Garden http://www.we-watch.org/start-your-own-victory-garden/ Tue, 29 Mar 2011 05:19:15 +0000 http://www.we-watch.org/?p=24 What is the best shopping tip? Don’t shop—at least not for everything. Why buy when you can grow?

You don’t need a huge backyard to produce a significant amount of food. You can grow some of your own produce in containers on front porches, balconies and windowsills. Here in our Santa Ynez Valley some of us have enough land to have a substantial garden. Raising your own food isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for you and your wallet.

Square foot gardening gained popularity with the home farming movement in the 1970s and has recently undergone a huge resurgence. It is easy and yields beautiful results. Gardens are built in a raised bed or box divided into a grid. Because plants are grown so close together, these gardens maximize production while using a minimal amount of space. In theory, each square should contain a different type of plant. Be creative and feel free to plant whatever you like. Grow in season, show a little love and your garden will thrive.

You will probably not grow every kind of vegetable that you would like to consume so for the ones that you don’t grow—visit your Farmers Market.

The choices you make in what you consume and how you consume it do matter. You don’t have to obsess over every purchase—just be aware of the difference your shopping power can make.

Download Start Your Own Victory Garden

What are Locavores? http://www.we-watch.org/what-are-locavores/ Sat, 29 Jan 2011 05:33:09 +0000 http://www.we-watch.org/?p=133 Lately it has become trendy to think about food in a decidedly old- fashioned way. While plenty of gourmands still explore the bounty of exotic fruits, vegetables and spices available from around the world, others are sticking closer to home.

Locavores are people committed to eating only foods that have been grown and produced locally. They are at the forefront of the local food and Slow Food movements, and they restrict their diets for environmental, economic and gustatory reasons. Some like the challenge of cooking with seasonal foods, others say food that goes from field to plate in one day just tastes better.

The definition of locavore, however, isn’t as strict as it sounds. Locavores set their own radius for what they consider “local”. That can limit them to 100 miles from home or be as broad as the entire state. Some locavores also make exceptions for mainstays that aren’t local to most places such as sugar, salt, coffee and olive oil. (Although in the Santa Ynez Valley we now have a thriving olive oil production.)

The movement sounds expensive but it’s actually in keeping with slow economic times-locavores sometimes supplement their food with produce from their own garden. After all, it doesn’t get any more local than your own backyard or balcony garden.

Download What are Locavores

Operation Medicine Cabinet http://www.we-watch.org/operation-medicine-cabinet/ Fri, 29 Oct 2010 05:38:17 +0000 http://www.we-watch.org/?p=140 Teenagers and young adults are abusing medications, some are taken directly from their parents’, grandparents’ or friends’ medicine cabinets.  One in five teens has abused a prescription pain medication.

For everyone’s safety, monitor your medicine cabinet.  Rid your medicine cabinet of unused, unnecessary or expired prescription medications immediately.  You can do so by participating in the local prescription drug “take back” programs available nationwide.

In response to growing demand for a safe, convenient way to dispose of household medications, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department has teamed up with County Public Works to install drop boxes at each of the Sheriff’s nine substations throughout the county.

Our wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to remove any of the chemicals found in medications, so these materials remain untreated in our water system.  Medications thrown in the trash are also in danger of being picked up by individuals or ingested by pets.  In our landfill, medications can enter the environment.

The following can be deposited in the drop boxes:

  • Over the counter medications
  • Prescription medications
  • Medication samples
  • Medications for household pets
  • Medicated lotions and ointments

It is requested that you keep medications in their original containers and remove or scratch out all personal information, including your name, address and phone number.

Our local drop boxes are located at:
Solvang Sheriff’s Station-1745 Mission Drive (805) 686-5000
Buellton Sheriff’s Station-140 West Highway 246 (805) 686-8150

Download Operation Medicine Cabinet

More Healthy Alternatives http://www.we-watch.org/more-healthy-alternatives/ Mon, 29 Mar 2010 05:39:43 +0000 http://www.we-watch.org/?p=144 There is a secret obsession taking place in kitchens across America.  It’s an addiction to paper towels and napkins.  We know they are easy and convenient and sanitary but there are other choices that will help you tread a little more lightly on the planet without sacrificing convenience.

The most eco-friendly option to paper towels and likely the most inexpensive in the long term is to dedicate a drawer in your kitchen for reusable washcloths and towels that will last for years.  Yes, you will have to launder them and that requires energy and other resources, but this impact is far less than the impact of continually producing, distributing and disposing of a paper towel that we use just once.

If you just aren’t ready to give up paper towels completely, then pick a better paper towel.  Look for towels made from recycled paper.  Specifically those made with a high post consumer content of 50 percent or more.  That is the recycled paper you and I as consumers generate.  Now when you reach for a paper towel at least you aren’t reaching for a virgin paper product that will never get used again.  Paper towels and napkins can’t be recycled because they are usually soiled with grease or food residue that can contaminate the recycling process.

Don’t worry if the recycled paper products you buy are not gleaming white.  Paper isn’t white naturally.  It has to be bleached.  When pulp and paper mills use chlorine-based bleach the result is toxic emissions into our air, land and water.  So feel good about your selection of slightly off-white or brown recycled paper towels (and napkins) knowing that you are not only reducing waste, you are reducing pollution in the environment too.  For help selecting chlorine-free paper towels and napkins with the most recycled content visit DoYourPart.com/columns.

Habits are hard to break but it is easy to reduce your dependency on paper towels and the added benefit is that you will also save money by buying less paper products.  Whether you cut out paper towels completely, cut back on how many you’re using or pick a smarter paper towel you’ll be doing your part everyday to live a greener, more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Based on an article published in the Charlotte Observer.