Recent News

The rainy season is officially upon us.  Conscious water use, however, is as important as ever.  To reduce your water use this winter, consider installing a rain barrel.


Rain barrels are used to collect rainwater from rooftops and store it for later use in watering your garden. They allow you to supplement your water supply with a sustainable source and help preserve local watersheds by detaining rainfall.


Rain barrels can be purchased from many local hardware stores and online retailers, with prices generally starting around $...

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Single-use plastic bags, a major ocean pollutant, are on the ballot in California Propositions 67 and 65.  In San Mateo County, the three-year old plastic bag ban has had a significant positive environmental impact, and so it is important to understand how these two propositions will affect our county and state.


Since 2013, San Mateo County’s Reusable Bag Ordinance has helped reduce plastic bag waste. The 2014 San Mateo County Bag Report shows a 162% increase in people...

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Patsy Vargas at work at the South City Car Wash (photo: Megan Kang)


Twenty-three years ago, Patsy Vargas walked across the street to her local car wash and asked for a job as a cashier. Now, after two decades of hard work she is the dedicated manager of the South City Car Wash in South San Francisco, which brings together the community and the environment in a professional car wash.


Professional car washes are a...

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New Crosswalk and Vegetated Curb Extension near Laurel Elementary School (photo: Kevin Robert Perry)


Nestled within the city of San Mateo, Laurel Elementary School has solved two pressing problems in one purposeful project: enhanced safety for students and environmental protection.


Rather than finding separate solutions to the pressing issues of stormwater pollution and traffic safety, the San Mateo-Foster City School District, the City of San Mateo...

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Thousands of volunteers turn out to pick up litter on a soggy Coastal Cleanup Day 


San Mateo resident Winston Bumpus normally would welcome a little rain. But the gloomy forecast on September 21 had the Coastal Cleanup Day Site Captain a little worried. Founded in 1985, California Coastal Cleanup Day is the largest volunteer event in the state. Every year, thousands of passionate Californians join together on the third Saturday in September to pick up trash and debris that threaten our oceans and waterways. Would the rain keep San...

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Do you have an old thermostat at home with a dial or a lever that looks like the one pictured on the left? Then most likely you have a thermostat that contains mercury. Many thermostats manufactured before 2006 contain mercury. This thermostat is perfectly safe to use, as the mercury is usually contained in a glass tube. But if you decide to change your thermostat to a new digital or programmable model, disposing of the old thermostat should be done safely.

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that doesn’t break down in the...

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Have you heard of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)? EPR is an approach in which the manufacturer takes responsibility for proper disposal of the products they generate. The EPR model is a free market solution that allows manufacturers to assume the cost of product waste management and develop a program that provides residents with convenient access to environmentally responsible disposal solutions. An EPR model program for unused medicine disposal is currently being considered in San Mateo County.  Under the program, drug manufacturers would fully fund a larger medicine...

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Have you noticed the Healthy Nail Salon Program logo displayed at various local nail salons? Wondering what it means? To protect the health of nail salon technicians and customers, San Mateo County Environmental Health has developed the County’s first Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program. This
innovative program requires nail salons to choose safer products for their employees, customers and the environment.

Nail salon-related chemicals emit vapors, dusts or mists that can be breathed in or absorbed through the skin and eyes. Participating salons must provide...

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Did you know it’s more convenient than ever to recycle paint in California?

Since the start of the California Paint Stewardship Program in October 2012, PaintCare has set up over 650 FREE drop-off locations in California where the public can take unwanted, leftover paint, stains and varnish and many other related painting products for recycling. The program is open to any resident and business in California. 

*Check each store for hours of operation and accetable limits before you go....

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Draining your car’s oil every 3,000 miles is no longer necessary. Your grandfather’s advice served you well but technology has resulted in newer vehicles needing less frequent oil changes.

Cruise into a quick lube with your 2011 Chevy Cruze every 7,500 miles. Sierra-bound in your 2010 Subaru Outback? Every 7,500 miles too. And that 2011 MINI Cooper? Every 12,000 miles! Check your number at



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