Going green during Sustainability Week

Forget recycling, public transportation, and any other element that typifies an introduction to sustainability.

At Santa Monica College this week marks Sustainability Week, an effort on the behalf of the Center for Environmental Urban Studies, Eco-Action which is sponsored by Associated Students to raise awareness about sustainable living.

Sustainable Works decided to begin with “Drought Day” along the Library Walkway in the quad.

Currently California is in a severe drought, so severe that Governor Brown declared a State of Emergency in January.

State-sponsored messages are frequently popping up advising people to cut their water usage.

For those who see lawn elimination and more control over an individual’s water usage as a remedy, Sustainable Works provided succulents and low-flow shower-heads to students passing by their tables on the quad.

“It’s the future for our state, you know,” said Harrison Trussel of Eco-Action to gathering listeners. “It’s getting dryer so we need plants that are more efficient, and they’re beautiful, too.”

Trussel explained that lawns, unlike succulents, are not native to California and are just not “part of our climate reality.”

As enlightening as events like this can be, the crowd stayed fairly small, a reflection of something Isabelle Schiros, Vice President of Eco-Action and Chair of Club Grow, found surprising about the Southern California lifestyle.

Schiros said that sustainability “doesn’t have to be something different that you do. Sustainability can just be part of your everyday life.”

Another suggested way to make sustainability a part of everyday life is a gray water system.

It's a system that recycles the water a household uses after doing laundry, for instance, and sends it to mulch bases or generally waters plants.

With a PVC pipe, SMC student Brian Cervantes, created his own system for only $70.00, which is much cheaper than a typical gray water system.

According to Cervantes, gray water seems to be a financially promising sector, with incentives soon to come for these systems.

“Gray water is in the state that solar was ten years ago. There’s gonna be a company that just focuses on gray water and it’s gonna be the next Solar City. If you’re an entrepreneur I would definitely recommend getting involved with this right now,” he said.

With the drought having so much to do with agriculture and food supply, Michael Wittman, founder of Blue Sky Biochar, has a well deserved place here.

Biochar is a basic carbon used for agricultural purposes to strengthen a plant’s root and immune systems, and most importantly, makes plants drought tolerant.

“What we’re doing with this carbon is mimicking nature. For a billion years, nature has been putting carbon back into the soil through natural fires progressing across the planet,” Wittman said.

Carbon’s high surface area gives it an ability to hold thirty times its weight and makes for a 50% reduction in water usage depending on how much biochar is used.

His product is also carbon negative: for every single pound of carbon put into the soil, three parts are taken from the atmosphere.

Ironically enough, the crew cleaned a section by the gym with water sprays, while signs mark the lawn nearby as “treated with RoundUp.”

Tuesday marked Sustainable Sustenance Day, which includes vegetarian, vegan, and pescetarian cooking demos, a seedling station.

In addition to that, Brownwyn Hancock, an environmental science major who just returned to SMC,talked about the fishing industry on Tuesday.

According to Hancock, 27 million tons of fish are thrown out each year and 300,000 fishes, including whales and dolphins, are killed each year from bycatch.

Bycatch is the marine life caught by fishermen in attempts to catch other fishes, most of which has to be thrown back dead.

Hancock also touched on how methods of reaping and trowing and dependence on plastic “have an impact on habitats and economies.”

On Wednesday, Beauty and the Beard will include workshops on how to avoid carcinogenic beauty products, as well as demos on making deodorant, body butter, and mouthwash.

GMO Day is Thursday, and a faculty will debate on the pros and cons of GMOs in addition to a discussion on eco-labeling are scheduled.

The Treeman will be in the AS Lounge on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. along with Heal The Bay and the Center of Environmental Urban Studies to help students get involved in eco-activism.

Friday is a day of action, with a Beach Clean-Up at Tower 20 at 9:00 in the morning.