Everyday Tips: Habits That Make a Difference

Four million people live in the Santa Monica Bay watershed. Our collective actions make a difference, inspire our communities, and reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Get curious about your daily habits and integrate the actions below to be a steward of Santa Monica Bay and its watershed.

Individual Actions Add Up to a Better Bay

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Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Many of our daily activities, like driving a car and using electricity, create greenhouse gas emissions. Together, these emissions make up your carbon footprint. You can offset your own footprint with these simple tips.

If you get your electricity from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, you can opt for their Green Power program to get clean energy for your home and business.
Bike, walk, or find another means of transport that doesn’t require the combustion of fossil fuels. If you can’t do it every day, do it when you can!
Reduce your meat and dairy consumption. A diet centered around plants has significantly less carbon emission and ecological impact than meat, fish, and dairy products. Plus, it’s healthy and by no means must be all or nothing.
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Reduce Food Waste by Composting

Food scraps like orange peels and apple cores, and yard waste like fallen leaves or grass, currently make up more than 30% of what we throw away. When food scraps end up in a landfill they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. We can prevent food scraps from ending up in landfills by composting. Composting is nature’s way of recycling. The process takes organic material and breaks it down, creating compost which helps retain water in soil and acts as a natural fertilizer. Thinking about composting? Check out these resources to learn more and find out how to get started.

LA Compost: "Start Composting"
Kiss the Ground: "The Compost Story"
LA County Public Works: "Backyard Composting"
NRDC: "Composting 101"

Ditch Single-Use Disposables

8 billion metric tons of plastic goes into the ocean every year. 80% of plastic in our oceans is from land-based sources, and only 9% of plastic ever produced has actually been recycled. Food and beverage service ware (utensils, straws, takeout bags, cups, etc.) are all too common in our oceans and on our beaches. We need to stop it at the source to reverse the plastic pollution crisis. Get reusable items to replace disposable ones, encourage restaurants you love to reduce single-use disposable items, utilize reusable items (don’t forget to carry them with you!), and get involved with your local government to influence source reduction policy.

Upstream Solutions: Learning Hub
Reusable LA: Get Involved
Clean Water Action: ReThink Disposable
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Conserve Water

Water is a precious and scarce resource. There are countless ways to safeguard water.

Install a low flow showerhead and take a three-minute shower
Use a stormwater retention feature in your garden
Run full loads of washing appliances (dishwasher, laundry)
Check out rebates available for conservation efforts via SoCal Watersmart
Learn more about being water-wise through Long Beach LiveH2O
Get even more water conversation tips and tools from Save the Drop LA
Beach Evening Primrose (Camissoniopis cheiranthifolia) is another of the flowering plants that add color to the landscape.

Grow Native Plants

Planting California native plants can help save water, reduce pesticide use and provide habitat for pollinators and wildlife. Incorporating the use of native milkweeds also helps the declining population of western monarchs.

California Native Plant Society: "Gardening and Horticulture"
Theodore Payne: "Learn About Native Plants"
California Botanic Garden: "Grow Native Nursery"
Xerces Society: "Plant Lists"

Consume Sustainable Seafood

Purchasing and consuming sustainable seafood helps wide-ranging efforts to increase ocean health. Seafood from sustainable producers often means that the fishing is conducted in a manner that doesn’t overexploit the fish being harvested. In other cases, the fishery operates with less bycatch, or harvest methods that protect ocean habitats. Thankfully, companies are increasingly incorporating better working conditions and fair-trade economics into their commercial fishing business practices. Through tools from Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch and NOAA Fisheries you can ensure that your choices are sound.

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch: "What is Sustainable Seafood?"
Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch: Seafood Recommendations/Search Engine
NOAA Fisheries: "Understanding Sustainable Seafood"
Bumble Bee Tuna: "Sustainability Plan"

Contribute to Citizen Science

Citizen science is a great way for everyone to contribute to biodiversity science. With tools such as iNaturalist and eBird, you can share your observations with both those in your community and scientists worldwide who can find and use your data.

iNaturalist: "How It Works"
eBird: "Discover A New World of Birding"
CitizenScience.gov: Federal Crowdsourcing and Citizen Science Catalog

Leave No Trace

Following the seven Leave No Trace principles is best practice for enjoying the outdoors while protecting our open and natural spaces. Simply put, leave what you find behind and take back what you bring with you. The Leave No Trace philosophy can be applied whether you’re exploring the backcountry or exploring your own neighborhood. Together, we can sustain the environment for the enjoyment of future generations to come.

REI: "Leave No Trace Seven Principles"
The Wilderness Society: "Leave No Trace"
Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: "5 Ways to Incorporate Leave No Trace into Your Every Day Life"