As I begin my first few months as a council member, I reflect on my first time participating in the city’s River Rally Cleanup and Earth Arbor Day events. Seeing the piles of debris that were taken from our river reminds me there is always work to be done to protect the natural beauties around us, and Santa Clarita is stepping up to the challenge! It was those signature events that our city invests in that once again demonstrate how much work goes into making Santa Clarita the clean, picturesque and family-friendly place that we call home.
It is clear that 2020 has been a particularly difficult year that has challenged us in a number of ways and continues to do so today. But not even a pandemic could stop the city’s efforts to create programming that encouraged residents to get involved in Santa Clarita’s green efforts. By the end of 2020, a total of 77 local businesses have subscribed to food waste recycling services, in addition to several others donating edible food to local nonprofits. With the hope to make our future cleaner, brighter and sustainable, let’s take a moment to recap on 2020 and all the new and exciting programming, including socially distant events and fun outreach campaigns that continued the city’s commitment to protecting the environment.
2020 began with the launch of the city’s Recycle Hero campaign that aims to break down recycling myths while promoting proper waste disposal. Through social media outreach, including live video tutorials, recycling tips and the opportunity to be featured as the city’s next Recycle Hero, Santa Clarita witnessed a 15% increase in recycling during the first half of 2020 as compared to the same time in 2019.
The city’s favorite horse, Sammy Clarita, made his grand return and became a Recycle Hero in his new book titled “Sammy Stories: Sammy Goes to Work.” Residents also participated in a recurring yearlong scavenger hunt to find plush Sammy Claritas dressed as a Recycle Hero. Through this engaging scavenger hunt, residents have used the #RecycleHeroSC hashtag and have also been featured as Recycle Heroes on the city’s social media and even on the front cover of the city’s quarterly recreation brochure, “Seasons.” As a proud father, I appreciate Sammy’s message to our youth and look forward to the new adventures and friends Sammy and his snake sidekick will make in the future!
In addition to the Recycle Hero campaign, the city has also placed focus on creating events that ensured the safety of residents during the pandemic while maintaining engagement and opportunities to have fun. Although the city’s Earth Arbor Day celebration had to be put on hold, the city continued with a virtual event that residents could watch on Facebook Live. More than 5,000 viewers watched a crepe myrtle tree being planted by the City Council, adding another beautiful tree to the city’s expansive network of 134,000 trees that purify the air, provide shade and preserve the city’s landscape.
In September, the city held the Neighborhood Cleanup and Online Environmental Expo, where nearly 1,200 volunteers participated in cleaning up their local neighborhoods. On the morning of the event, participants were invited to pick up supplies at one of eight drive-thru locations across the Santa Clarita Valley. Volunteers received trash bags, gloves and free giveaways, and participated in a scavenger hunt, with winners receiving special raffle prizes through using the event hashtag #CleanUpSC. After a day of cleaning up their communities, volunteers were invited to visit the Online Environmental Expo, which featured educational resources and YouTube videos that included green tips from the city’s leading environmental experts.
We, as a city, have persevered through a year like no other, and as we move into the New Year, I look forward to reconnecting with our community at our favorite city clean and green events.
Residents can learn more about the city’s green efforts and upcoming events on GreenSantaClarita.com or on Facebook @GreenSantaClarita. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #GreenSantaClarita and #RecycleHeroSC on social media!
Jason Gibbs is a member of Santa Clarita’s City Council and can be reached at [email protected]