Sustainable Mill Valley

Ecological Footprint Survey Responses

The Issue
The Ecological Footprint of Marin is higher than the U.S. average, and is unsustainable. Do you think we as a community have a responsibility to reduce our ecological footprint? If you believe this is important, what steps have you taken to reduce your own?
(See for background information, to calculate your ecological footprint)

Maureen Parton

Yes, we all share the responsibility to reduce our unsustainable ecological footprint. My fervent belief is that local government has within its repertoire some of the most powerful tools to reduce our ecological footprint, by reducing our resource use. I will step up to this responsibility and sponsor this change.

I support the following measures:
  • integrated land use and transportation planning to build compact, mixed use and beautifully designed and appropriately scaled neighborhoods at locations that provide transit and get people out of their cars
  • a bold vision for transit that puts the person and not the car at the center of our city’s decision-making framework.
    • I will put a pilot shuttle on our streets and work with the School District to examine a comprehensive “94941" solution by bringing back school buses
    • I will secure better local transit
    • I will champion safe, protected wide bike lanes, bike storage, cycle tracks (wide, separated bicycle tracks, near the sidewalk and inboard of parked cars) and pedestrian walkways,
    • I will bring back our historic legacy with a commitment to restoring priority steps, lanes and paths.
  • Watershed sustaining, green building approaches that are written into our development code. I am passionate about green building and watershed design, assuring that building anywhere ~ from the top of the watershed to the lower flood plain ~ is done integrating the highest level of green building possible and best management watershed sustaining practices that provide flood protection.
  • Promotion of local, organic food production and consumption. We need to help Marin (and those of the local region) farmers, growers and producers sell and market their products. We need to consciously buy local, organic products and remember that the premium we pay comes back in saved fuel, embedded energy in production, promotion of local family farms, better nutrition and vitamin content and less packaging and waste.
  • An energy policy for the city that is systematic in that it looks at both internal energy use for city services and functions and external energy use by our community of households and businesses.
    • I would like to see the promotion of solar energy, via technical assistance, incentives and the proper sizing of systems to allow for meeting current and anticipated needs.
    • In addition, the development code for the city should include energy efficiency requirements for proposed larger homes, to help mitigate their size, that make them meet the energy efficiency benchmarks required of a smaller home.
I have become much more mindful of my resource consumption and am taking steps to reduce my ecological footprint. Here are some of the measures my family practices:

When Jim and I got married, we decided that 2 kids was a sustainable family size for us. When we moved into our home, we reduced the driveway by 50% and returned the ground to permeable native fescue. Five years ago, we replaced lawn in the backyard with California low water, native plantings. Rather than tear down an old 1950’s house, we remodeled it in 3 stages over time and kept essentially the same footprint. In our recent home remodel, we reused existing materials (existing footprint and structure, wood, tub, low flush toilets) and re-incorporated them into the remodeled structure. We used low VOC paints and green materials, including ceramic tiles. We purchased a very low water Toto toilet.

Recently, we were the first family in Marin to be fired by our gardener (told our job was too small). We have taken both housecleaning and gardening in-house. No more outsourcing of those jobs ~ reducing the number of service people driving to our home. We purchased an electric lawn mower to replace the old gas-powered vehicle. We have planted 20 native trees on the property since moving here 18 years ago and keep them well cared for and maintained.

We compost our food scraps and use the compost on fruit trees/garden. The garden and plants, largely native and low water, have drip irrigation on timers. We replaced all of our outdoor lighting with CFL and much of the indoor lighting is low voltage.. We replaced our old washer and dryer with efficient, Energy Star appliances. We keep the thermostat on a timer and keep heat off during the day and at 65 degrees when in use. We use canvas bags (most of the time when shopping) and I re-use small paper bags for loose produce. I buy more from bulk bins and reuse the containers. I buy more local and organic produce and meats. Straus Milk in bottles exclusively. I check my fish list for the sustainable catch. We eat more grains, veggies and tofu and less meat. We use cloth napkins exclusively and we carry our stainless steel coffee mugs and water Nalgene bottles.

We have given up the 101 shuffle to Target and Costco to put our money where the community is; we shop locally, save fuel and try to keep our local businesses in business. We take camping and hiking vacations in California to save money and to keep our travel budget down. We try to trip chain for errands. Jane, my 17 year old daughter, is an expert transit user, commutes to her SF high school by bus (mostly) and has not learned to drive. My son, Nate, walks from Tam High up the Dipsea Stairs to home daily. We eat dinner by candlelight and turn the lights off or down. I have given up driving my Honda Pilot (albeit a low emissions vehicle with reasonably good gas mileage for a sport utility) and am trying to figure out how I can have a “time share" vehicle to serve several families/investors that might need an SUV for long haul trips, snow driving and hauling.

We can do much more. To be continued.

Ken Wachtel

The survival of humans, and all other species is at risk if we do not immediately take steps to dramatically reduce our ecological and carbon footprint. My term for this is “Environmental Repair" and I am dedicated to the concept. We need to use best practices to repair the damage we and others have caused. So yes, Mill Valley, its residents and all other communities must do everything we can to live more lightly on the planet. Things I have done to reduce my own footprint include:
  1. Keep my tires fully inflated to ensure optimum gas mileage
  2. Our children carpool to school and sports activities.
  3. Walk and bike whenever I can instead of using a car
  4. Commissioned an energy audit of my home, and am installing energy efficiency features including compact fluorescent lamps and insulation.
  5. Insulate my water heater
  6. We have reduced our air travel
  7. Purchase only 100% recycled paper, and am encouraging my workplace to do the same
  8. We often bring our own re-usable bags to the grocery store
  9. My children carry a re-usable water bottle when they play sports so they never have to use those dreadful single use plastic water bottles that are often left as unsightly litter on fields.
  10. Buy local and organic food whenever possible
  11. Have consciously reduced my consumption and purchases
  12. Have reduced my consumption of meat
  13. Telecommute once a week to save fuel
  14. Pay my bills on-line and so avoid the paper and transport of mailing bills
I will work with City Staff, members of the Commissions and my fellow City council members to set an example for the community by emphasizing environmental responsibility in our ordinances, actions and communications.

Stephanie Moulton-Peters

In calculating my own ecological footprint, I came up with 16 acres, relative to the 24 acre US national average footprint. As one who has an education in the biological sciences and environmental policy, and who has worked in environmental protection and restoration for nearly 25 years, I am acutely aware of the choices I make and the need to continue to work to reduce my own impact on the planet. Here is what I have done to reduce my footprint over the past 10 -15 years:

I traded my old car in for a Prius, a car which is a complete joy to drive and can carry just about anything I want to put in it including my middle school son’s bicycle! So much for needing a big car to haul the family’s gear. We do own a station wagon, and leave it in the garage most of the time except for family road trips & school field trips!

Our family wants to see Mill Valley become a more pedestrian and bike friendly town. Besides chairing the Safe Routes program that I mentioned previously, I helped with some of the field work for the wonderful MV Steps and Paths map, and I am actively involved with community groups to restore and maintain these historic treasures which are having a renaissance. My husband and I have taught our sons to ride their bikes safely and responsibly to school, and at the ages of 10 and 12 they now provide their own transit to Old Mill and Mill Valley Middle School. I am in the process of retrofitting my mountain bike with panniers to make it my “town cruiser".

In our home, we have put in double pane windows and have turned down the thermostat in our house. We like Jimmy Carter's idea of putting on a sweater and other warm clothes when the weather turns cold. We have many fluorescent bulbs in our home and I must admit I look forward to a time when warmer colored, attractive and longer lasting fluorescent bulbs are widely available. We use our appliances sparingly and replace then with energy star models when they break. We have looked into solar photo voltaics, but our electric load is generally so small, that it doesn’t really “pencil out" at the moment.

Goods and Services:
An advocate of voluntary simplicity, I think about my purchases, combine errands to save fuel, and often as not, “do without" or “make do" or “reuse" and eliminate a shopping trip altogether. Some of my “campaign wardrobe" was given to me by a friend who no longer needed her work clothes - lucky for me, her slacks and jackets fit! I do buy locally both to support our local merchants and because I know it is more efficient than driving ten miles or more using gas & creating greenhouse gases to “save" a few dollars.

We buy in bulk to reduce packaging materials, although with children, I must admit that we are not entirely immune to the convenience of packaged goods. I’d like to see a Farmer’s Market here in Mill Valley, particularly one that features locally grown Marin Organic produce. I own 10 canvas shopping bags and several wonderful net produce bags, so I am generally “plastic free" at the check out stand. And now, following Carol Misseldine’s lead, I bring my own plastic containers to the deli to be filled with prepared foods when I don’t want to cook! We recycle everything we can and we have had a compost pile for a decade or more.

There is always room for improvement, but I am happy for the steps I have taken to date.

George Gordon

One of the most obvious points to be made concerning an ecological footprint is to stop construction that makes matters worst. Why add 300 new dwelling units to Miller Avenue if you believe that the totality of the town exceeds reasonable levels at this time?

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Last updated: 10/12/07