Thurston County Connection Newsletter
Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
March, 2014
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This Month's Articles

Recently Elected Officials Honored at Swearing In Ceremonies

Service Comes First

Thurston County’s Specialty Courts Hit Milestone

One Family, One Judge.

Sheriff Recognizes Contributions to the Community

Romance on Mound Prairie

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 Take a Look at Your Carbon Footprint!

Commissioners take the EcoTeam lead.

Question-What can you do that will conserve the environment, build friendships, cut back on energy use, help curb global warming and save money at the same time? Answer-Take part in a local EcoTeam. Simply put, an EcoTeam examines the way each member uses energy in their lives and works to find ways to lessen their impacts. The benefits of the reductions are many, not the least of which is savings on household expenses.

Rachel Laderman of the county’s Environmental Health Division is a key player in the “Cool Thurston” campaign and she and others involved in the program have found strong support from the County Commissioners. In fact, the commissioners and other county staff have formed their own EcoTeam. Laderman explains, “The Commissioners wanted to participate in an EcoTeam because they are committed to making changes at a personal and community level on climate change, and this is an opportunity to lead by example.”

The Commissioners’ team met four times in June and July and started by taking their “carbon footprints” using an on-line calculator to get everyone using the same measuring stick. A carbon footprint is a tally of how much greenhouse gas a person produces in a year due to use of power, transportation, and how much garbage a person creates. Next, members of the team pledge to lose as many pounds as they think they can. Finally, they go through a “Low Carbon Diet” workbook step-by-step and share their progress, encourage each other along, and learn from what the others are doing.

Rachel says the process can be a lot of fun. Commissioner Cathy Wolfe enlisted her granddaughter and her granddaughter’s friend to help with the "diet." “She reported that after the girls went through the workbook she found little sticky notes around the house: ‘Grandma - are those clothes really dirty? Remember to do full loads of laundry’ ‘Remember to turn off the lights!’ She says she feels more conscious of her actions now, and even if that means feeling guilty as she showers, she knows more ways to do the right thing.”

This thought was echoed by Commissioner Sandra Romero who was an early adopter of many sustainable practices. These included composting, driving a hybrid automobile and using a hot water on demand green remodeled water system. She was already doing many things, but realized there is still a lot she can do to reduce her carbon footprint such as putting up a clothesline, washing clothes in cold water, and changing to a more efficient home heating system.

Commissioner Karen Valenzuela also began with a relatively small carbon footprint. She lives in a small, well-insulated house, burns biodiesel in her home furnace (which is completely turned off five months of the year), uses no pesticides or fertilizers in her garden, consumes a simple diet very low in meat (meat is very carbon-intensive to produce), and doesn't put a lot of miles on her car each year. Nevertheless, she pledged to lose ten thousand pounds by purchasing carbon offsets when she flies (her single biggest carbon emitter), buying most of her food from local farmers markets, and purchasing an Energy Star refrigerator.

Scott Longanecker, a county planner, said he grew up under Mt. Adams and saw how the glacier receded over the years. He wanted a positive outlet for his concern, and joining the EcoTeam gave him some definite actions to take, such as replacing 18 lightbulbs with energy-saving compact fluorescents (worth 1800 pounds of carbon lost). He also plans to do infrared testing of his home to find heat leaks to plug (saving energy and money).

Rachel says the energy reductions are already significant. “Within a few months of starting this project, already 21,800 pounds of carbon have been lost by this team, with another 34,310 pounds pledged. Taken together, these actions will be the equivalent of taking 5 carbon-exhaust-emitting cars off the road for a year!”

For more details on the Cool Thurston campaign and taking part in an EcoTeam, you can watch the county’s July TCTV Show on the Cool Thurston Campaign. You might also visit the Cool Thurston Website.

In the photo- Going up the stairs we've got Les Olson, Rachel Laderman, Jane Mountjoy-Venning, Commissioner Karen Valenzuela, Lisa Paribello, Amber Smith, Commissioner Sandra Romero, Danielle Westbrook, Commissioner Cathy Wolfe, County Manager Don Krupp and Scott Longanecker. Not pictured, Art Starry.

By John Tennis

Members of the Commission's EcoTeam. Members of the Commission's EcoTeam.