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Happy first birthday, Living Green!

Can you believe that this column, Living Green, has been running for an entire year? Time flies, as they say, when you’re having fun, and it remains both extremely fun and an immense privilege to talk with you, the Coast News readers, about the most critical issues facing humanity today.

If you’d asked me as a kid or even a young adult, I would never have imagined having a regular column in my local newspaper to discuss such critical environmental topics and share practical tips that people and businesses can implement to protect our planet. It’s quite a milestone for me, and I hope the reading has been informative and thought-provoking for you.

Looking back over the past 12 months, I can see we’ve covered a fair bit of ground. Living Green started by discussing water, the world’s most precious resource. I argued then that we need a revolution in how we think about water use: embracing a holistic approach to water use, including using technology and landscaping to minimize water wastage.

Living Green also discussed the sometimes controversial issue of recycled water use, notably for potable drinking water. It’s happening more often for irrigation purposes, and it makes sense to take that a step further for our benefit and the good of the environment.

At the end of winter, I talked about why that season’s heavy rains weren’t the answer to our water shortage needs; in fact, much water is wasted when it falls in the form of deluges. If those weather events are likely to be more frequent, we need the infrastructure and approach in place to capture and use that water more efficiently.

Later in the year, we looked in more detail at the benefits of smart irrigation, which uses smart controllers to determine how best to utilize water and labor to keep plants and lawns growing and healthy while conserving the resources that enable our beautiful landscapes.

It wasn’t all about water, though. We also looked at the pros and cons of natural grass versus synthetic turf and offered some helpful tips for recycling organic waste. Living Green provided a guide to sustainable gifting for the festive season and some suggested green resolutions for the new year. We continued the environmental pledge theme for Earth Month in April.

We peeked behind the curtain to discover just what goes into preparing our parks for the heavy-use summer months, and we looked at the new proposals to reduce heat in schools by providing more shade trees and replacing heat-holding surfaces and how they can benefit children and local communities.

We rounded off our first 12 months with a focus on the wild and dangerous weather incidents that characterized this summer and suggested that we now must be prepared for wildfires, floods and other extreme weather events at any time of the year. I suggested – and continue to offer – that we should make our elected representatives aware of our strong feelings about the climate crisis and urge action to reduce its impact.

So, that was the first year of Living Green. Thank you for this opportunity, The Coast News Group! I’m looking forward to contributing many more articles that spotlight the importance of our environment and sustainable practices.

A.J. van de Ven is president of Carlsbad-based smart irrigation company Calsense and a board member of the nonprofit EcoLife Conservation.

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