And the winners are... everyone

San Diego EarthWorks presents their 12th annual E.A.R.T.H. Awards

by Carolyn Chase ,


esponsible stewardship and “doing more with less” were consistent themes for this year's Earth Day E.A.R.T.H. Awards, presented by Mayor Dick Murphy at San Diego EarthWorks' annual V.I.P. (Very Important Planet) reception. Other awards included the city's Waste Reduction and Recycling Awards, the Air Pollution Control District's Clean Air Award, and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition's Golden Gear Award.

    The E.A.R.T.H. (Environmental Action and Restoration That Helps) Awards acknowledge individuals, businesses and organizations that have worked to preserve and protect the environment and our quality of life. More than 40 nominees were received for this year's awards.

    This year's award winners are:

  • Aquatic Adventures, for their educational programs that connect underserved youth to science, inspire environmental action and increase exposure to marine habitats.
  • Camp Stevens, for their practice of responsible environmental stewardship in camp operations.
  • Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Co-Op, for their new "green" building.
  • The City of San Diego Water Department, for their Water Conservation Program.
  • Kitty Clinton, for her individual recycle and reuse work in her local community.

    Cosponsors of the event included Solar Turbines, the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department, the Air Pollution Control District, San Diego County Community Projects Program 3rd District, Hangers Cleaners, Pardee Homes, and the San Diego Earth Times.

    Each award winner demonstrates how to make private practical differences that add up to public benefits.

Individual action


    Kitty Clinton, this year's winner in the Individual Category, is a one-woman crusade for recycling and reuse. For the past five years, she has been collecting, bagging and recycling materials from the community in which she lives, involving most of the 50 residents. She encourages the use non-recyclable materials for arts projects, taking many to a local Boys and Girls Club.

    According to Clinton, “I see the supermarket as a gold mine for the reusable product. Most people would probably see it only as a place to purchase food.” Her main frustration is that “every waste management truck probably contains 50 percent reusable material that is going to the landfill.”

Adventures in education


    Aquatic Adventures (, a nonprofit organization, focuses on wetland education with an emphasis on environmental awareness and action. Its activities support the concept that a personal connection to the environment is required to foster responsible stewardship. It has hosted two large community events that provided a venue for public education and restoration, it supports the Friends of the San Diego River Mouth and it provides interactive wetland curriculum and field trips for more than 800 low-income youth. Truckloads of trash and nonnative species have been removed, more than 1,500 native species have been planted, pathways have been managed and participants have been trained to identify native and nonnative plants.

Sustainable camping


    Camp Stevens ( is an institution of the Episcopal Church offering camping and retreat programs for children, families and adults since 1952. Each year, the 6,000 people who visit the camp experience responsible environmental stewardship in virtually all of the camp operations. Lighting has been retrofitted to use more efficient fluorescents, and the kitchen and main lodge buildings have solar water heaters.

    The camp serves locally grown, organic foods as much as possible, and grows some of their own fruits and vegetables. Their waste stream has been reduced by 60 percent by recycling and composting kitchen waste for their organic garden. All recent buildings are models of environmentally responsible design and construction, including glazing, insulation, lighting, passive solar heating and natural cooling (no air conditioning necessary).

Green building for the People


    Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Co-Op ( has always demonstrated a respect for the environment, and never more so than in its new “green“ building. The building features recycled content steel, engineered lumber and nontoxic, recycled and sustainably harvested building materials. Open beam ceilings, exposed framing and simple floor designs reduce material use.

    Day lighting is used extensively, with north-facing windows with efficient glass. Operable windows and natural ventilation make energy-intensive air conditioning unnecessary. Solar panels on the roof supply about one-third of the building's energy needs. The building has won an energy efficient design award from San Diego Gas & Electric. We also note that most of the materials from the demolition of their old building were recycled, with salvageable wood donated for housing in economically depressed areas of Tijuana.

Making water count


    The City of San Diego Water Department's Water Conservation Program ( included seven different aspects which all add up: the Residential Water Survey Program, the Landscape Watering Calculator, the Commercial Landscape Survey Program, the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, the Irrigation Fixture Reimbursement Program and the Ultra Low-Flush Toilet and High-Efficiency Clothes Washer Voucher Programs.

    The Landscape Watering Calculator helps consumers determine the right amount of water to give a landscape or garden for each month of the year. The 3,500 schedules produced in 2002 yielded a water savings of 210,000 gallons per day. The Commercial Landscape Survey Program, for use by consumers with at least 1 acre of irrigated landscape, usually results in water savings of 10 percent to 40 percent.

    The goal of the Water Conservation Program is to save 26,000 acre-feet of water – 8.4 billion gallons – per year by 2005. The Program is on track to meet and exceed these goals, having saved more than 20,000 acre-feet of water in 2002. These programs have also helped save 3 million kilowatt-hours of energy, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by nearly 1,800 tons.

And may we mention...

    In addition, Honorable Mentions were given to:

  • Nancy Hughes, for her leadership of People for Trees and stewardship of tree planting in San Diego.
  • Joyce Mason of Pardee Homes, for creating Pardee's Living Smart program.
  • The San Diego Natural History Museum's Canyoneers, for putting thousands of San Diegans in touch with our natural environment through their instructional hikes.
  • The Urban Corps of San Diego, for addressing the problem of high youth unemployment and the needs for public lands conservation and community service.
  • The Waldorf School of San Diego, and “environmental school“ that integrates care for the earth and the environment into their entire curriculum.
  • The California Worm Growers Co-Op, for promoting vermiculture as a commercial venture.

    The Clean Air Award was presented to Yellow Cab Co. for taking a leadership role in alternative fuel technologies in San Diego. The Golden Gear Award was presented to the North County Transit District for their support of the Coastal Rail-to-Trails project.

    The wide range of efforts that apply each year inspired the volunteer judges at San Diego EarthWorks who reviewed the applications, including this columnist. Each and every applicant had something specific to share about making a difference in ways that matter to the community, the economy and the environment. Our hope is that all these efforts inspire others to continue to discover what else they can do and to begin to do it.

    Carolyn Chase is editor of San Diego Earth Times and chair of the mayor's Environmental Advisory Board. Email her at .