Green & Natural

Writers’ picks

Heather Woodford shows off her all-weather bike buckets, ingeniously fashioned from kitty-litter containers.

Heather Woodford shows off her all-weather bike buckets, ingeniously fashioned from kitty-litter containers.

Photo By Kel Munger

Best way to take it on the chin for the environment

Roger Dickinson’s plastic-bag ban
What do world-class cities have that Sacramento doesn’t? Gutsy public officials who advance controversial environmental causes—and win. County Supervisor Roger Dickinson took a page from San Francisco’s green playbook and attempted to initiate a phase-out of plastic grocery bags, which are one of the biggest trash problems in modern cities. Unfortunately, he chose the right cause at the wrong time. In the middle of a budget crisis, the bag ban was an easy target for narrow-minded critics. The Sacramento Bee called the debate a “distraction,” and his fellow supervisors wouldn’t even let him bring the proposal to a vote. But we apprecitated Dickinson’s ability to think outside the box, er, bag. C.G.

Best crazy idea to become a serious idea

Campaign for Legalizing Urban Chicken Keeping
It wasn’t long ago that the chicken liberation movement was just a gleam in Muriel Strand’s eye, a political punch line. Since then, the push to legalize yard chickens has gained momentum. Advocates say existing city rules banning the birds from residential negihborhoods are unfair and unsustainable. After all, what are you going to barbecue when the oil runs out and Foster Farms can’t make it to the megamart anymore? There are several Sacramento City Council members on record as supporting chicken reform. There’s even a new organization lobbying for the fair treatment of fowl. It’s called the Campaign for Legalizing Urban Chicken Keeping. Do we really need to spell it out for you? C.G.

Best way to clean the air

The city has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of staff hours into a citywide “sustainability plan.” Yet, one of the best things we could do for the local environment remains right in front of our itchy noses and irritated eyeballs: It’s time for Sacramento to ban the gasoline-powered leaf blower, or more accurately, the dirt blower. Several cities in California, including Los Angeles, Berkeley and Santa Monica, have banned the earsplitting, fume-gushing, eyeball-menacing debris machines. It’s time we joined the civilized world and rediscovered the broom. C.G.

Best use of the smell of death

Corpse flowers
Nature is so damn cool. Just when you think it couldn’t get any cooler, it creates giant flowers—some up to 9 feet tall—that emit the smell of rotting corpses to attract insects to pollinate it. Genius. OK, technically the Amorphophallus titanum—also called titan arum or corpse flower—is a collection of hundreds of flowers under a spathe, but if naturalist Sir David Attenborough can justify calling the massive, rare plant one flower, so be it. UC Davis Botanical Conservatory has two of these amazing specimens, affectionately named Ted the Titan and Phyllis. Both bloomed this spring, which is a big deal (and smell) because titan arum blooms occur only once every two to three years. Too bad. Now we have to wait and see if Phyllis will again smell “just like doo-doo.”
Department of Plant Biology, 1 Shields Avenue, Davis; (530) 752-0569; S.S.

Best reason to hitch a ride to work

Avoiding the new $9.50 surcharge on parking tickets
Parking is always unavailable when you’re late for work, especially when the reason for your tardiness is stopping for a necessary jolt of caffeine. Instead of parking four blocks away from your favorite coffee shop, you park right in front—in the yellow zone. Surely, no meter maid can whip up a parking ticket faster than the barista does your mocha latte. But you forget one thing: Meter maids in Sacramento are omnipresent and omniscient, like God in biker shorts and a helmet. And now, instead of forking over $40 for the ticket, you’ll have to fork over $49.50. Thanks to the California state budget fiasco, every parking violator will have to pay an additional $9.50 state surcharge. That’s two mocha lattes. J.K.

Best day trip to aid a salad or absinthe

Grizzly Island Wildlife Area
With a name like Grizzly Island, you won’t expect an 8,600-acre labyrinth of serene levees and marshland. There are no bears to be found among the tall grasses and swamps of the Solano County wildlife area where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers meet the ocean tides, although you will spy frogs, snakes, river otters, tule elk and more than 200 species of birds during your nature walk. Why not pocket a handful of the fennel that grows wild all over the area? It’s sure to perk up a salad or aid in the absinthe-distillation gig you’ve got going on the side since furlough Fridays started. If you’re still looking for thrills of a “grisly” nature, leave your tick repellent at home.
Grizzly Island Road, off of Highway 12; (707) 425-3828; K.B.

Best investment for a greener world

SMUD’s Greenergy Program
Want to do something for the environment, but can’t figure out how you can make a difference? We’re here to help. Simply sign up for SMUD’s Greenergy Program, and 100 percent of your electricity will be generated from renewable resources like wind, water and solar. It will add $6 to your monthly bill, but the 50,000 SMUD customers who’ve signed up so far think it’s worth the price.
6301 S Street, (888) 742-7683, R.V.S.

Best farm-fresh shopping

The Sunday Central Certified Farmers’ Market
If you’re looking for a wild block party or pre-prepped gourmet food, the Sunday market at Eighth and W streets is not for you. But if you want the market with the largest variety of farmers, produce and items for sale, this is it. The Sunday market is open year-round from 8 a.m. to noon. It’s in a less-than-desirable spot under the freeway, but seeing the diversity of people from all over Sacramento and the wonderful selection of goods makes up for that tenfold.
Eighth and W streets, (916) 688-0100, N.V.

Best way to unload all those tomatoes (and score some kumquats)

Oak Park Crop Swap
Did you try that whole growing-tomatoes-upside-down thing this year? I did. To date, my labor has yielded only one sad baby Roma. Given that our fair city is ideal for beefsteaks, better boys and the rest of the gang (Sacratomato, anyone?), I’m guessing some of you had better luck. In any case, one can only have so much salsa and bruschetta before needing to mix it up a bit. Gather your spare love apples and head over to the Oak Park Crop Swap. Every week during growing season, members meet to weigh in their offerings and spend “crop swap dollars” on produce contributed by others. The only requisites are the crops be pesticide free and a little punctuality. After all that, if you’ve still got tomatoes rotting, you can always throw ’em at Fozzie Bear.
Mondays from 6 to 7 p.m., June through September at McClatchy Park; K.B.


Pop quiz

What’s the best way to help the environment?
“Recycle. Save the Earth and make money in this poopy economy.”
—Amy Hogun, Sacramento


Best place to find an MRF

Western Placer Waste Management Authority
No, silly boy, we’re not talking about some mom you’d like to do whatever to. We’re talking about the Western Placer Waste Management Authority’s materials recovery facility near Roseville. What’s so exciting about this garbage dump? Well, besides throwing your usual household waste into the green bin, you can put all your recycling—soda cans, cardboard and plastic containers—into the same container! The center processes about 2,000 tons of garbage per day and diverts 40 percent of that away from landfills towards reuse. Recycling has never been easier.
3033 Fiddyment Road, Roseville; (916) 543-3960; R.V.S.

Best gardening buzz

Urban beekeeping
Listen. You hear that? Yeah, no one else can, either. California springs have been too silent in recent years, with Sacramento among the myriad towns whose buzz has been harshed. Next year, our state may not have enough honeybees to sustain almond crops alone. But it’s not too late to pollinate! Hobbyist beekeepers—more and more abundant in metropolitan areas—are increasingly vital to the success of area agriculture. It’s a fascinating and constructive pastime. Help out the local environment, savor the sweetness of the end product and learn a little something. Try Sacramento Beekeping Supplies for the gear to get started; two backyard hives within city limits are allowed. Just don’t forget to check with the neighbors.
Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies, 2110 X Street; (916) 451-2337; K.B.

Best source for green knowledge

Sierra College
Sierra College might just be the greenest place around, and I’m not talking about what the students are smoking. Whether you need eco-friendly classes like The Environment and the Human Impact to fit your general education requirements, or you’re just looking for other environmentally conscious students to hang out with, there are plenty of activities here to minimize your carbon footprint. The Institute for Sustainability at the Sierra Tahoe-Truckee campus has become a great community resource for conservation efforts. This fall, Sierra will launch a Solar Energy Technician program, for those interested in pursuing a career that will fill their hearts (and pockets) with all things green.
5000 Rocklin Road, Rocklin; (916) 624-3333; J.D.

Best coyote hangout within city limits

Paradise Beach
This guy I know says he saw a coyote outside Round Corner Tavern around midnight. This totally set off my bullshit detector. A cougar or two, perhaps, but coyotes are more of a Zebra Club species. If you want to see a coyote within city limits, go to River Park about 45 minutes before sunset. Enter the river near Glen Hall Park, shoot left toward Paradise Beach and explore the trails west of the famous skimboard spot. I’ve seen three coyotes here in the past year, and I wasn’t even looking for them. It helps if you have bait—and I do (see Leroy the Office Pug). Pick a spot, sit still and see if one shows up. Sometimes you’ll see a bushy old bugger; sometimes it’ll be young, spry and curious. They won’t hurt you. Just don’t bother the fellas, and leave no trace.
5415 Sandburg Drive. N.M.

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Best green idea for bike cargo

Make bike buckets from kitty-litter containers
This extremely cool idea came from SN&R reader and Midtown dweller Heather Woodford, who wanted lightweight, waterproof carriers for her bike. Heather’s a smart, green-minded person, so she turned to Google and ended up with instructions for making a set of “bike buckets” from empty plastic kitty-litter containers. With the assistance of a couple of neighbors and a few glasses of wine, the project was complete in about an hour. The instructions came from and the parts came from Capitol Ace Hardware. Best of all, the project leaves plenty of room for personal decorative touches. What a great way to remember the “repurpose” part of our sustainable-living mantra. K.M.