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Earth Day: Reduce, reuse, recycle, replenish, restoreEarth Day is a good time to reflect upon how far we have come in protecting the environment since the first Earth Day in 1970, but also how far we have yet to go to save the planet in the face of global change.
Here at Smith Rock Farm, we try to do our part. We irrigate our hayfield, vegetable garden and xeriscaped landscape with efficient systems.
We have a permeable gravel driveway and green-built solar home. This was a considerable extra expense back in 2006 when we built, but prices for some of these materials have come down as they have become more widely used.
We have grid-tied solar panels that produce 100% of what we need; when we produce extra we are a supplier of green energy to the power company. Thanks to state and federal tax incentives and the Oregon Energy Trust, our investment in solar will be repaid four years from now. From then on our electricity is essentially free.
We have Dark Sky outdoor lighting to prevent light pollution.
We’ve switched most of our indoor and outdoor lighting to LED.
What are you doing for the environment? Visit http://www.earthday.org/takeaction/.

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The Bullitt family has done a lot for the environment in the Northwest over the years. Their latest achievement is creating the Bullitt Center in Seattle as a building that is not just green but almost sustainable — capturing and purifying rain for water, covering the entire roof in PV panels, eschewing a parking garage in favor of bicycle storage and more. The New York Times has an interesting story about it. Be sure to click on “more photos” link to see all 13 photos showing its cool features.

The state of California now is encouraging motorists to abandon the old change-oil-every-3,000-miles standard, saying it’s wasteful, unnecessary for newer cars, and aggravates the oil disposal problem. To be a greener driver, use engine oil longer.

Thanks to Slow Food High Desert, I discovered this “Nightline” segment on a family who grows all their own food, keeps chickens and goats, harnesses solar power, recycles graywater and makes their own biodiesel — all on a regular-sized suburban lot in L.A. Watch this amazing video!

In San Francisco last weekend, it was great to see that at the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Terminal the food vendors are supplying “plastic” utensils made from potatoes that are 100% compostable. Schoolchildren stationed at the garbage and recycling cans explain that anything with the compost symbol can be added to commercial composting operations, or even your home compost if pieces are small enough. Throughout San Francisco, where you see recyling bins you now also see compost-collection bins.

Soliciting donations of retired cell phones for charities is a fund-raising technique that’s been around as long as, well, cell phones. But did you know your old cell phone can be a lifeline for someone in Haiti? Donate your old phone through the Red Cross via their web site phonesforhaiti.com.

Yes! “Reduce, reuse, recycle,” the mantra of the environmental movement, applies to our behavior toward companion animals as well.
Reduce: Spay or neuter your pet. Resist the urge to become a “backyard breeder,” even if your pet is a pure-bred dog. Millions (literally!) of healthy, adoptable animals are euthanized every year simply because homes cannot be found for them. If you don’t spay or neuter, you are contributing to the problem. Low-cost spay and neuter clinics are offered in most communities. In the High Desert, the Bend Spay & Neuter Project offers low-cost procedures for dogs and cats, including stray cats.
Reuse: Consider adopting a shelter animal or pet whose owner is selling or surrendering him. In this era of foreclosures, many families are desperate to find homes for pets they can no longer keep. In the High Desert, adoptable animals are offered by Bend Spay & Neuter Project, Humane Society of Central Oregon, Humane Society of Redmond, Humane Society of the Ochocos, Blissful Acres Rescue Reserve, and Equine Outreach, among others. If you have your heart set on a pure-bred, search the sites above, go to petfinder.com and specify the breed and your location, or contact the nearest rescue group for that breed (Google breed name rescue and your state). If, like me, you’re a golden retriever fancier, that would be Golden Bond Rescue of Oregon.
Recycle: Animals as well as things can be adapted to a new use. If you’re willing to invest some effort at socialization and training, feral animals can become good pets. (My adorable Lace was a feral cat we found in our pasture 18 months ago who now is healthy and glossy and living happily in a household with two dogs.) Wild horses culled from remote areas in the West are adoptable through the Bureau of Land Management. They can make fantastic mounts, but gentling a 1,000-pound wild animal is not for amateurs. If you aren’t an experienced trainer, contact a trainer who specializes in mustangs. In the High Desert region, I can recommend Kitty and Rick Lauman.

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