Environmental Action & Restoration That Helps

EARTH Awards to be presented at Very Important Planet event on April 17

by Julaine Chattaway
magine: governmental agencies, small businesses, big corporations, individu- als and youth taking leadership roles in improving our local environment and quality of life. Well, you don't have to just imagine; it's happening here in our own backyard.

San Diego Earth Day celebrates its 1997 EARTH Award nominees, and will present these awards with the City of San Diego's Recycling Awards at its seventh annual VIP (Very Important Planet) Reception. This black-tie optional event takes place on Thursday, April 17 from 6 - 10pm at the City of San Diego Environmental Services Building located at 6901 Ridgehaven Court. This newly "green" refurbished building is one of the top ten most environmental buildings in the country. From the recycled (and recyclable) squares of carpet that can be rotated from heavy traffic areas to the motion- and temperature-sensitive lighting and heating/air conditioning system, this building has saved over 52 percent in utility costs over its non-refurbished twin building next door.

This year's EARTH Award judges include Jim Sulentich, the NCCP Field Representative of the Nature Conservancy; Ken Wheatley, a 1996 EARTH Award winner and Director of Corporate Security of Sony Electronics America; Scott Murray, a local organic farmer and member of San Diego Earth Day's board and Carolyn Chase, Editor of SDET and a local environmentalist activist.

The VIP Reception will include local comedian Rick Rockwell, a sumptuous buffet contributed by an assortment of fine restaurants, a Silent Auction featuring fun and exciting earth-friendly goods and services, and an opportunity for San Diegans to foster dialogues and relationships to work towards sustainability for our region. This is a key San Diego Earth Day fund-raiser and helps us to continue SDED events and programs dedicated to a clean, healthy, prosperous future. Tickets are $25 each, and you can request an invitation by calling 496-3302.

By reducing waste and pollution, increasing community education and involvement, and by simply seeing a problem and finding a solution, the following people are making a difference.

And the nominees are...

The following organizations have been nominated for the EARTH Awards:

Allied Barricade Company, Inc. For purchasing only solar powered traffic boards and light towers for rental and sales fleets, switched to more durable building materials, and currently conducting research on expanding life of batteries.

American Formulating & Manufacturing Developed the world's only full lines of environmentally safe building and maintenance products and partner in the San Diego County Innovative Building Review Committee and was a sponsor/product provider for the "green" renovation to the City of San Diego Environmental Services Building.

Gold Mine Natural Food Co. Nominated under two different categories; 1) For offering organic and heirloom quality foods, supporting sustainable agriculture and offering non-toxic and recycled household products, 2) For their intensive, pro-active recycling program, reducing waste by over 50%. They use 100% recycled (post-consumer) paper with soy based ink for their catalogs and inner office materials and they continue to provide their customers with educational information on environmental sustainability.

Green Restaurant Association Helps all parts of the restaurant industry, from consumer to manufacturer, lower its negative impact via environmental consulting, education, business consulting and public relations.

inter-Block Retaining Systems, Inc. Manufactures concrete retaining walls from 100% recycled/post-consumer waste concrete, reducing the impact on our landfills.

Melles Griot, Inc. A manufacturer of helium-neon lasers used in laser printers to medical procedures, that has redesigned its chemical lab discharge system, reclassifying itself as a ZERO discharge facility in regards to hazardous waste.

NCR Corporation A research and development company for large mainframe computer systems, developed an intensive recycling program that has diverted over 601.5 tons of waste from our landfills and generated nearly $500,000 in savings and income since 1994.

Ocean Beach People's Natural Foods Market An environmentally-friendly foods and products provider for San Diegans, People's supports organic farmers, carrying a large quantity of bulk items (reducing packaging) and domestic nontoxic household products, recycling all waste generated by the market, supporting consumer education through their newsletter, bulletin board and support of the Greenstore environmental library.

Progressive Design For seven years this company has designed and manufactured 100% purified HDPD recycled plastic, made from old milk jugs, to create safe, maintenance-free, durable plastic "lumber" for recycled playground equipment.

SALTA (Salud Ambiental Latinas Tomando Accion) a community organizing project of the Environmental Health Coalition in which inner city women are trained and organized to handle environmental justice issues in their own communities, creating a strong team of environmental health activists.

San Diego Convention Center Corp. For their continual efforts of "Demand side Management" in lighting projects including software programs, reducing waste and increasing efficiency. In addition, they have an extensive recycling program, including donating food from events to local homeless shelters, a pollution prevention program and employee education.

San Diego Gas & Electric For the development of the first Environmental Reference Guide, a user-friendly illustrated guide to sensitive plant species and habitat for San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties, SDG&E's service area. It is designed to be expanded, but currently contains 58 pictures that help to familiarize field personnel with rare, endangered and therefore protected habitat under their Conservation Plan and is offered to government agencies, environmental consultants and other interested citizens.

San Diego State University, Engineering Department Centre City Towing, a 1996 EARTH Award winner and the first towing company to use compressed natural gas in their fleet, nominated SDSU's Dr. William Guentzler, for his department's work on the "Suntrakker" program. The "Suntrakker" is a solar powered vehicle that has competed in international events and numerous public events, illuminating the minds of many people of all ages to the vast potential and need of solar energy.

SGS-Thomson Microelectronics, Inc. A 1995 EARTH Award winner and the first plant in the U.S. to meet strict new international standards for environmental performance in industry is continuing its efforts to reduce its impact on the environment through diverting 64% of their waste to recycling and more efficient use of water and electricity.

Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina Implemented its Good Earthkeeping Program, which gives guests the option to reuse their sheets and towels rather than having them replaced daily. This seemingly small practice can reduce the waste of water and energy, minimize the release of detergent pollutants and help the linens to last longer.

Student to Student Watershed Protection Program Another program by the Environmental Health Coalition, that educated students from Gomper and Lincoln schools to give presentations about runoff and watershed protection to thousands of area 3-6 graders throughout the county. The program concluded with the distribution of their calendar with watershed information and monthly pictures drawn by the young students.

Zoological Society of San Diego "Environmental Awareness Program" One of many conservation programs run by the Zoo, this project is the first major undertaking to bring conservation home. The new program is an aggressive environmental awareness/education program that targets our local community and the habitats we share with wildlife. It includes a quarterly informational journal, a butterfly resource kit for schools, a media kit for Earth Day, production of a video and related material for the Nature Conservancy's NatureLands project and the California least tern nesting management and surveys.

Youth nominees

Diegueno Junior High School Every year for Earth Day they have a Pancake Breakfast/Discovery Fair in which all proceeds go to buy local environmental habitat to protect and study.

Mira Mesa High School, Ecology Club For the past two years, the club has conducted many fund-raisers to raise money to adopt marine life and preserve endangered habitats, as well as participate in many different community service events in the county.

Pacific View Elementary Their ecology club meets after school for naturalist studies in the nearby natural lagoons and beaches.

San Pasqual Union, Butterfly Club Raises butterflies from eggs and releases them in their garden; teaching children all stages of life from responsibility for feeding the caterpillars to maintaining the plants.

Urban Corps of San Diego, Ecology Club An educational and community service club in the Mid-city area which is comprised of 32 diverse cultures, 26 different languages in a ten block radius. The club is made up of children from the surrounding community that have come together to do three litter cleanups (yielding over 20 bags of trash and three bags of recyclables), started a compost station and community garden, painted a recycling bin with a mural, painted out an entire alley of graffiti and stenciled the surrounding storm drains with a no dumping message in Spanish.

These nominees, from big corporations to young kids, illustrate that community service, economic viability and environmental quality are mutually compatible goals, indeed the only way to create sustainability. We at San Diego Earth Day sincerely commend their efforts and encourage others to see what they can do in their own lives, to make a positive difference on our planet. After all, it's your turn.