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Act Wise

Taking backyard action in the 350 Challenge



"Just do one thing this weekend," says Erin Axelrod. "Register an action, no matter how small or large. It might not seem like much, but working collectively, our individual actions add up."

Axelrod, organizer of the third annual 350 Home & Garden Challenge, is speaking of action that addresses water conservation, food security and climate change. But it's fun stuff, because most of this change can be accomplished through yard or patio projects. Last year's actions numbered 1,044, and included transforming 243 lawns and installing 21 greywater systems. But even planting a window box or stringing up a clothesline makes a difference.

Axelrod, programs manager of the Petaluma-based nonprofit Daily Acts, explains that to take the challenge, every county resident decides what she or he can do to reduce water use, help secure the local food supply (buying locally grown if you can't grow your own food) and help reduce emissions. One simple action is to pledge to line-dry clothing all summer; a 350 Challenge consultant will even come over for free to help you install and learn to use a clothesline.

While individuals are committing to projects, some businesses have been inspired to act, too. Folks at the Petaluma Heath Center are planning a big action, transforming a 4,000-square-foot lawn into an educational garden that will reduce water consumption by tens of thousands of gallons and spare the air from polluting mower fumes, noise and particulate matter of "mow and blow" landscape maintenance. "The Health Center is situated among business parks," says Axelrod, "so the project presents a ripe opportunity to transition more lawns in that area." The city of Windsor just transitioned 5,600 square feet of lawn, saving 30,000 gallons of water during May alone.

"For those with no lawn to transition, there are other actions," says Axelrod. "Ask yourself, 'What is the action available to me?' If you only have a patio and there is sun, what about line-drying your clothes this summer? Or planting a windowsill herb garden? Even if you don't have a plot in your home or apartment, you can still do something," Axelrod explains. "Rather than coming from a perspective of lack and scarcity, our challenge is about positive, inspiring solutions accessible to all of us in the community. What is the project you've wanted to get to for months that can make your life a little bit greener?"

Home & Garden 350 Challenge is a program of Daily Acts, sponsored by the county's water agency and department of health services. For more, see In Marin, see In Napa: Looking for an organizer!

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