We recently added solar panels to our home in our continuing efforts to be more sustainable. Not only is it a good investment with a pretty good financial return, we have had fun watching the meter, even on cloudy days, showing we are producing energy.
The solar panels are just the latest in our efforts to be more sustainable and to save money as well.
Our home is well-insulated and small. Our garden gives us a surprising amount of food. We use a drying rack instead of a dryer, which is a surprising money saver in terms of both energy and wear and tear on clothes.
Thanks to composting and the recycling opportunities available in Corvallis (along with the opportunities to buy in bulk) our garbage output is small, requiring a pickup every few months instead of weekly. We have used reusable shopping bags since the mid-1980s.
But we know there is still more we can do.
As we celebrate another Earth Day in April, check in with members of your household on ways to reduce your impact on the planet. You will have fun, save money, and be an inspiration to others — maybe even to the policy makers on whom the health of our planet now rests.
• Complete Organic Gardening course: Every week throughout April, Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning April 3, at the SAGE Garden and the Avery Nature House. The cost is $275 and includes materials. For more information call 541-753-9211 or email SAGE@corvallisenvironmentalcenter.org. The course is sponsored by the Edible Corvallis Initiative, Oregon Tilth and the Oregon State University Extension Service.
• Pacific Lamprey in the Marys River and the Willamette River: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. April 3, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, 645 N.W. Monroe Ave. Free. Sponsored by the Marys River Watershed Council.
• Ocean Acidification and our Near Shore Ecosystems: 7 p.m. April 4, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, 645 N.W. Monroe Ave. This free presentation, by George Waldbusser from Oregon State University’s College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, will cover the effects of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide on the formation of shells in marine bivalves. For information contact email@example.com. Sponsored by the Marys Peak Group of the Sierra Club.
• Biological Soil Crusts: Charismatic Microflora: 7:30 p.m. April 8, at the Avery House Nature Center, 1200 S.W. Avery Park Drive, Corvallis. Lea Condon, doctoral student at Oregon State University’s Department of Botany and Plant Pathology, will describe her work on the microflora in the soils of Oregon and the Great Basin. Contact Alexis at 860-878-2049 or Kevin at 208-921-0827 for more information. Sponsored by the Native Plant Society of Oregon, Corvallis Chapter.
• Living with Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest: 7 p.m. April 9, at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, 645 N.W. Monroe Ave. Richard Waring, professor emeritus at the OSU College of Forestry, will discuss the effects of climate change on our bioregion. Free. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 541-230-1237. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Corvallis.
• Sustainable Living Clinic — Starting Your Spring Garden: Drop in between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. April 11 at the Benton County Sunset Building Lobby, 4077 S.W. Research Way, Corvallis. Free. For information email email@example.com, or call 541-766-6750. Sponsored by the Oregon State University Extension and Benton County Master Gardeners.
• Local Birding Walk: 7:30 a.m. to noon, April 13, meet at Benton Center, 757 N.W. Polk Ave., Corvallis, to organize the carpool to Willamette Park. Free. For more information contact Bill Proebsting, firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsored by the Audubon Society of Corvallis.
• Avery House Garden Work Party: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 13, at the Avery House Nature Center, 1200 S.W. Avery Park Drive, Corvallis. Help with spring cleanup of the native plant garden. Bring work gloves, tools and a water bottle. Contact Esther at 541-754-0893. Sponsored by the Native Plant Society of Oregon, Corvallis Chapter.
• Hike to the Source of Dixon Creek: 1 p.m. April 13, meeting place will be announced when you register. Discover the source of one of Corvallis’ main creeks. Free. For information contact Irene Schoppy at email@example.com. Sponsored by the Marys Peak Group of the Sierra Club.
• Spring Wildflower Hike on the Marys Peak Lower North Ridge Trail: 9 a.m. to mid-afternoon, April 20, meet at the OSU Wilkinson parking lot diagonal from the Beanery at 26th and Monroe, Corvallis. The free hike is about 4½-mile round trip and includes a gentle climb. Bring lunch and water. Contact Esther at 541-754-0893 for more information. Sponsored by the Native Plant Society of Oregon, Corvallis Chapter.
• Oregon State University Earth Week Celebration: April 20 through 26, at various campus locations. For a schedule of these free events check http://tiny.cc/earthweek or contact at Andrea.Norris@oregonstate.edu or call 541-737-5398. Sponsored by Oregon State University Campus Recycling.
• Sustainable Landscaping Seminars: April 20. At 10 a.m., “Ten Tips to a Sustainable Landscape,” followed by “Right Plant, Right Place” at 2 p.m. Both of these free presentations will be at Home Grown Gardens, 4845 S.E. Third St., Corvallis. Owen Dell, landscape architect and author of “Sustainable Landscaping for Dummies,” will present. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-768-2137. Sponsored by Home Grown Gardens.
• Earth Ball 2013 — An All Species Masquerade: 7 p.m. to midnight April 20, at the Corvallis Oddfellows Hall, 223 S.W. Second St. A benefit party for the Corvallis Environmental Center. Tickets are $7 in advance at the Corvallis Environmental Center, 214 S.W. Monroe Ave., Corvallis, or online at www.CorvallisEnvironmentalCenter.org. Tickets are $9 at the door. For more information contact Sara Kellogg at 541-753-9211, or Jeanette Hardison at 541-752-5860. Sponsored by the Corvallis Environmental Center.
• Naturalist Adventure: 9 a.m. to noon April 21, meet at the Woodland Trail Parking Area, 8392 N.W. Peavy Arboretum Road, Corvallis. Free walk. For more information contact Don at 541-753-7689, or email@example.com, www.neighborhood-naturalist.com. Sponsored by the Neighborhood Naturalist.
• Earth Day tour of Corvallis native arboretums: 1 p.m. April 22, meeting place to be announced with registration. The tour is free but registration is required. For information, contact Jane Luther at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sponsored by the Marys Peak Group of the Sierra Club.
• Sustainability Coalition Quarterly Gathering: noon to 1:30 p.m. May 2, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, 645 N.W. Monroe Avenue. Presentations by coalition partners and action teams. For information on this free event, contact email@example.com, or call 541-230-1237.
Maureen Beezhold has been writing the Earth Year monthly column for the Gazette-Times since 1999. She works with the sustainability committee at the Beit Am Jewish Community, and organizes a bimonthly walk for Corvallis area interfaith leaders. She can be reached at 541-752-3517 or firstname.lastname@example.org.