Compiled by Jennifer Boucher
1. Grow Native Plants
Most drinking water consumed by Westside residents ends up on their lawns. Replacing thirsty grasses with aesthetically pleasing native plants can save thousands of gallons of water each year, which is all the more important considering the current drought. California buckwheat, Cleveland sage and Manzanita shrubs are among the plants best suited for the region’s naturally dry climate, according to Brooke Christopher, spokesperson for the nonprofit environmental group Tree People.
2. Use Rain Barrels
Another way to save water is to capture rainfall when it happens and use that water for irrigation for weeks to come. Rain barrels collect water from rooftop gutters and storm drains and are becoming increasingly popular among Westside homeowners. Santa Monica has issued rebates to 153 homeowners who have installed 381 rain barrels since 2008. “Rain barrels help a person tune into the value and quantity of water that lands on one’s roof when it rains,” said city watershed supervisor Neal Shapiro. “A rain barrel user can appreciate how much water is available for harvesting and it is rewarding.”
3. Secure Trash
Fast-food wrappers, plastic bags, cigarette butts — if left to blow around Westside streets, chances are they’ll wind up on the beach or in the ocean, which is bad for the environment and just plain gross. “If you were asking me the number one thing that people could do [for the planet], I would say it’s to simply dispose of their trash properly,” said Heal the Bay spokesman Matt King. “Urban runoff is the No. 1 cause of pollution on the beach. Clean streets equal clean beaches.”
4. Switch to LED
By now we all know that those twisty compact fluorescent light bulbs save a tremendous amount of energy versus traditional incandescent lighting, but light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs use so little energy they make compact fluorescents seem obsolete. To create an amount of light equal to a 100-watt incandescent bulb, LEDs use only two watts, said electrician Tom Barker, owner of Barker & Son Electric in Santa Monica. In addition to just plain white, LED bulbs also come in a variety of warm and cool colors to help control light levels.