● By Wendy Sipple
In the late 1990s, well before the “green” movement became en vogue, the 37-year-old Sierra Vista Winery established itself as the first in the El Dorado County area to install photovoltaic solar panels to power their operations, reducing their energy consumption by 94 percent in the first month of usage.
To continue producing its fine wines, Sierra Vista decided to employ more sustainable agricultural practices after noticing the soil erosion in their vineyards. According to the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program at UC Davis (UC SAREP), “sustainable agriculture incorporates three main goals – environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity.”
As a member of the California Sustainable Winemaking Program, Sierra Vista is committed to the values of maintaining the long-term viability of the land, and leading the cause in environmentally-friendly practices in business. Visit them online at sierravistawinery.com, or stop by in person to taste their latest vintage. 4560 Cabernet Way, Placerville. 530-622-7221.
If earning “Zoints” to “Zwaggle” sounds like child’s play, that’s because it is!
Zwaggle is an online community of eco-minded parents looking to clear out the stuff their children have outgrown, who can’t stand the thought of dumping it in a landfill. It works like this: You join Zwaggle for free by creating an account online. You want to get rid of the stroller that’s collecting dust in the garage? Post it on the site! By doing so, you earn Zoints, or online points. Say the stroller earned you 100 Zoints and you find a gently used bike that strikes your fancy “priced” at 90. You simply “spend” your 90 Zoints, giving you 10 leftover for future swaps. Recommending Zwaggle to friends and family can also earn you Zoints. Simple. Fast. Ecological. Though it may be unlikely, if you don’t find anything on which you want to spend your Zoints, members can also make a wish list to notify you when your desired item becomes available.
Shipping is a breeze with Zwaggle’s FedEx tool that helps its members print prepaid, pre-addressed mailing labels and schedule pickup. And if the product is staying local, its messaging system allows users to schedule a meeting time and place – all without ever having to leave the Web site or head out to the mailbox. No cash trades hands so it is safer than other online want-ad sites. Because the Zwaggle system is based on points, rather than money, the overall value shared by its members is increasing community collaboration and decreasing community consumption.
Even if you have stuff to get rid of but no need to replace it, Zwagglers can donate their Zoints to charity to help less fortunate families and organizations. To learn more, visit zwaggle.com.
According to wastefreelunches.org, an organization committed to reducing trash in schools, it is estimated that, on average, a school-age child using a disposable lunch tosses 67 pounds of waste per school year.
Multiply those 67 pounds by the number of kids at an average-sized elementary school, and you get over 18,700 pounds of trash per school per year. That sure adds up! Preserve, a company treading lightly on the earth, offers storage products made from 100 percent recyclable plastics, all made in the U.S. Their stylish Preserve Square Food Storage is just the right size to pack a sandwich in, comes with a snap-on lid, and is stackable and dishwasher safe, helping your family reduce the waste produced by packing lunches. Preserve products don’t just reduce waste, they reuse it! Their products are made from #5 polyproylene plastic collected to recycle through their “Gimme 5” program and through partner companies like Stoneyfield Farm. Buying a Preserve plastic product translates into 54% less water, 75% less oil, 48% less coal, 77% less natural gas, and 46% less electricity used compared to what is required to manufacture virgin polypropylene. Order online at preserveproducts.com or buy at Nugget Markets, 4500 Post Street, El Dorado Hills.