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News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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Going green, one step at a time


Photo By: town Crier file photo
Photo Town Crier File Photo

Biking to school is one of many ways local students can reduce their carbon footprint.

My favorite bookmark reads: “A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step.” I find this saying very helpful and use it often in my daily life.

When I want to get fit, for example, I may start by going to the gym every Monday morning for an hour. Then I extend that commitment to Wednesday mornings, and finally, I go three times per week. By taking small steps and feeling the success of that effort, a daunting task becomes easy and rewarding.

The same can be said for becoming environmentally aware. Changing behavior to become more energy efficient, water conscious, plastic free or carbon neutral may seem daunting at first. However, taking a small step and building on it may enable you to save money and help the Earth.

Take energy efficiency. Your monthly electric bill is a useful tool for monitoring the effects of small changes in behavior.

Many items use power when plugged in but not in use. These phantom or vampire loads have increased dramatically due to the rise in consumer electronics. According to Steve Schmidt of High Energy Audits, our community uses nearly a quarter of its residential electricity serving these vampire loads. Making a commitment to unplug these devices before going to bed is a small step. Try it for a month and see the result in next month’s energy bill.

You can do the same with household temperatures. Move the thermostat up 1 degree in the summer months or down 1 degree during the winter months. See the impact on the electric bill and notice if other household members can tell the difference.

For the next step, sign up for GreenTown’s free online energy tool to identify where you use the most power and how you can reduce it. Small steps can have a big impact. Folks in Los Altos Hills who used this tool reduced their energy bills by more than $700 annually. You may be amazed at how much energy you conserve.

Similarly for water use, review your water bill to see what happens after adjusting your water timers two minutes less for each cycle. Watch the results on your water bill and in your yard. Can the plants tell when they are watered two minutes less?

The Santa Clara Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program’s Watershed Watch recommends that people “adjust watering levels to match the season: In summer, generally water once every three days. In autumn, cut your watering time by half. And in winter and spring, completely stop watering once the rains begin.”

But take the next step and schedule a free Water Wise House Call from the Santa Clara Valley Water District to create an irrigation-scheduling plan just for your lawn and garden. This can save you a lot of water and money.

Try for zero waste or become plastic free. Start by reviewing your community’s recycling guide (provided by the franchise waste haulers, Mission Trails in Los Altos and GreenWaste in Los Altos Hills). Recycle everything that can be recycled for one month. Watch the difference in the garbage container. Next move onto compost.

Then try to go plastic free. Begin by bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store. Buy glass containers instead of plastic ones.

According to Save the Bay, 90 percent of trash in our streams does not biodegrade. The oceans and animals in them are suffering from plastic pollution. Take another small step and get educated at algalita.org.

How about becoming carbon neutral? Start by encouraging your children to bike or walk to school one day a week. Or drop them off a few blocks from school so that they can walk the rest of the way. Perhaps take your bike instead of your car when running errands a mile away. Take the next step by “greening” your errands within two miles. Then take the Drive Less Challenge for two weeks (www.drivelesschallengeLA.org).

Riding a bike may become your main mode of transportation. Given that vehicles are responsible for more than 60 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, that’s a welcome change.

Two other important steps for reducing carbon emissions include avoiding plane flights (or at least purchasing carbon offsets for the ones you must take) and replacing one meat-based meal per week with a plant-based meal. Taking these additional steps makes the planet just a little cooler.

Small steps can be an easy way to create a new habit that ultimately makes a big difference for the environment. You can soon become a GreenTown Los Altos volunteer and help your neighbors become sustainable. A journey of 1,000 miles does start with a single step – take it today.

Michael McTighe is chairman of the GreenTown Los Altos Leadership Team.

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