OCEANSIDE — For the past 11 years each April, the city has gone the extra mile to encourage its residents to take better care of the Earth.
In previous years the city would celebrate every April as Earth Month by hosting a variety of events including community cleanups, challenges and an Earth Festival, one of the largest of its kind in North County.
The celebration didn’t stop even after things shifted virtually this year and last due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Environmental Officer Colleen Foster, the city has focused its Earth Month efforts to demonstrate how Oceanside residents can live more sustainably in their own homes while also helping the city to win the 2021 National Mayor’s Challenge for Sustainability.
Created by the Wyland Foundation, the Mayor’s Challenge encourages mayors across the country to promote sustainable actions among their communities.
Throughout April, the city’s Green Oceanside program distributed its “One Planet, Take Action” kits with resources to help residents learn what they could do differently at home while also earning the city more points in the national challenge.
“We really focused on simple actions we can do around the home to live more sustainably,” Foster said.
The city has come very close to winning in previous years and hopes to prevail as the top winner this year.
On Earth Day, April 22, Mayor Esther Sanchez met with local kids in the after-school program at Crown Heights Community Resource Center to highlight reasons why they should care about Earth Day and taking care of the planet. The students got their own Earth Day action kits to take home and also participated in a neighborhood cleanup.
Roger Ayala, 12, quickly made his way to a nearby apartment building where he started digging bottle caps out of the ground.
“This is where they sometimes sell soda,” he said.
Ayala had found at least 20 or 30 bottle caps before moving on to the next spot.
Another Crown Heights neighborhood cleanup took place on Saturday, April 24, hosted by the mayor, Green Oceanside and North County Lifeline.
A little ways south along Coast Highway was another unique, sustainable event taking place celebrating Earth Month on Saturday — a clothing swap.
Founded in 2019 by Makenzie Lowe, The Good Loop is a community-wide clothing swap that aims to “close the clothing loop” and keep clothes out of landfill. Participants can bring their own clothes in to leave for others to take home while choosing something new for themselves from another old collection of clothes.
Lowe explained that it’s more sustainable to buy and use clothing already in existence rather than buying brand new clothes. She also noted there is often a gap between living sustainably and the affordability to do so.
“Sustainability is this wonderful movement, but when things are made ethically and sustainably they can be very expensive,” she said. “I feel like that’s not always accessible to everyone, so I wanted to create some kind of event where you could sustainably shop and it wouldn’t cost you anything.”
Lowe said anyone from any economic background could participate in her clothing swap.
One bonus to the clothing swap is that Lowe is left with tons of clothes, which she donates to a charity. This year, she donated the clothes to the Alpha Project, a 325-bed temporary bridge shelter program for single, homeless adults.
This year’s clothing swap was Lowe’s second swap since she started The Good Loop. She held both swaps at The Rising Co., a cooperative retail shop in in Oceanside.
The Rising Co. is home to Rais Case, a local designer bag company that launched a new line of handbags on Earth Day called Refusion, which are designer bags made out of recycled plastic bags.
Green Oceanside teamed up with Rais Case to provide the Earth Month home action kits in Refusion bags, which can be used for laptop cases or as reusable folders.
“Part of being sustainable is supporting your local community and your local businesses,” Foster said. “We connected with Rais Case, which is a local business that’s made this new fabric out of plastic bags.”
Foster said the bags are another creative way residents can start thinking not only about recycling but about how they can rescue materials for reuse and prevent any waste in the first place.
The National Mayor’s Challenge ends April 30, after which a winner will be announced.