Volunteers stop for a photo at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Scott Sporleder
Earth Day volunteers stop for a photo at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Scott Sporleder

Compiled by Andrea Swayne

In the quest for a more eco-friendly lifestyle, changes can take on many forms.

Whether looking to grow your own food, help clean up the beach, recycle or learn more about local flora and fauna, there are plenty of nearby options coming up.

Here we highlight some of the many opportunities to get involved, learn something new and make a difference in our community. Choose one event or many, discover something new and take another step toward a greener way of life.

Saturday, April 12

Earth Day Restoration Project

9 a.m. Volunteer to help plant native plants, shrubs and trees around the park at Doheny State Beach. Bring a shovel and work gloves, if available. Upon arrival, let the gate guard know you are volunteering and they will direct to free parking. For more information, contact Vicki Wiker at 949.496.6172 or vwiker@parks.ca.gov. Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, www.dohenystatebeach.org.

Backyard Skills: Greywater
1 p.m. Recycle good water and use yours better. Learn from Brook Sarson of H2OME on how to design, install and maintain a greywater system that’s right for your home. Tickets $20 for members, $30 for non-members. Tickets available online. The Ecology Center, 32701 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano, 949.443.4223, www.theecologycenter.org.

Visitors explore the many eco-friendly exhibits and demonstration gardens at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Scott Sporleder, The Ecology Center
Visitors explore the many eco-friendly exhibits and demonstration gardens at The Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Scott Sporleder, The Ecology Center

Wednesday, April 16

Farm to Fork: Adults

6 p.m. Experience a hands-on cooking class for adults, starting in the garden and ending with a delicious meal. Tickets are $40 for members, $50 for non-members. Tickets available online. The Ecology Center, 32701 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano, 949.443.4223, www.theecologycenter.org.

Friday, April 18

Farm Film Series: Global Gardener
7 p.m. The Ecology Center presents a free educational film screening and community potluck under the stars. Get cozy with your own chair or blanket and nosh on homemade popcorn, craft beer on draught and light refreshments (available for purchase). Reserve a free ticket in advance. 32701 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano, 949.443.4223, www.theecologycenter.org.

Saturday, April 19

Mother Earth Beach, Creek and Park Cleanup

9 a.m.-noon. Volunteer to clean the beach, San Juan Creek and the Doheny State Park grounds. Bring work gloves and meet at Lifeguard Headquarters. Upon arrival, let the gate guards know you are volunteering and they will direct you to free parking. For more information, contact Vicki Wiker at 949.496.6172 or vwiker@parks.ca.gov. Doheny State Beach, 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, www.dohenystatebeach.org.

Whale Walk and Talk

9 a.m.-11 a.m. From the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center many different species of whales and dolphins can be seen passing through the Pacific waters below. Learn about our largest animal visitors on an approximately 1.5-mile walk through the Dana Point Headlands conservation area. Bring your binoculars, or use ours, and learn migration patterns of different whale species that frequent the area, as well as how to best spot, watch and identify whales. 34558 Scenic Drive, Dana Point, 949.248.3527, www.danapoint.org.

Backyard Skills: Herbology Level 1

10 a.m. Herbology, or herbal medicine, involves using the wonders of plants for medicinal purposes. This method of healing has been used for thousands of years, and is still practice today. Join a hands-on workshop on herbal medicine with Rebecca Altman, herbalist and artist in residency of The Ecology Center. Tickets $55 for members, $65 for non-members and children 10 and under are $25. 32701 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano, 949.443.4223, www.theecologycenter.org.

Eco Hero Beach Cleanup at Salt Creek Beach

10 a.m.-noon. Volunteers check in at Salt Creek Beach to receive beach cleanup materials. The cleanup brings neighbors and friends of all ages together to take care of our precious marine environment, while also learning from the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel Eco-Adventure Center’s naturalists about how fragile beaches and oceans are and how to become an Eco Hero. 33333 Pacific Coast Highway, 949.240.5072, cristy.cohen@ritzcarlton.com.

Volunteers plant native, drought-tolerant plants at the Ocean Institute gardens at a previous Earth Day event. Photo by Andrea Swayne
Volunteers plant native, drought-tolerant plants at the Ocean Institute gardens at a previous Earth Day event. Photo by Andrea Swayne

Saturday, April 26

San Clemente Beach Cleanup

8:30 a.m. Join friends and neighbors to clean up San Clemente’s beaches. Meet at the Pier. Stay after the cleanup for Earth Day San Clemente events.

Dana Point Beach/Harbor Cleanup

9 a.m.-11 a.m. Volunteer to help clean up the beach and Dana Point Harbor areas and receive free admission to the Ocean Institute for the day. Check in at the front of the institute. Supplies will be provided. Registration is not necessary. But, for groups of 10 or more, please inform Jonathan Witt in advance at 949.496.2274 ext. 330 or jwitt@ocean-institute.org to ensure ample cleanup supplies will be available. 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, 949.496.2274, www.ocean-institute.org.

Earth Day Go Green & Blue

10 a.m.-3 p.m. After spending the morning cleaning up the beach and Harbor, create fun eco-friendly crafts and learn about the importance of protecting natural environments through hands-on activities at the Ocean Institute. For those who choose not to participate in the cleanup, admission is $6.50 for adults (13 and over) and $4.50 for children (3 -12); children 2 and under and members are free. 24200 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, 949.496.2274, www.ocean-institute.org.

Community Recycling Event

9 a.m.-11 a.m. Drop off plastic bottles and aluminum cans (no glass) in the back parking lot of Dana Hills High School near the tennis courts and pool area. Students from the school’s chapter of the California Scholastic Federation and Dolphin Pride will collect and sort the recyclables. Funds collected are distributed by the school’s PTSA for student programs. Rain or shine. 33333 Golden Lantern, Dana Point.

Earth Day San Clemente

10 a.m.-2 p.m. The city of San Clemente and the Watershed Task Force sponsor a family-friendly day of fun and education aimed at reducing litter and pollutants ending up in our streets, open space, storm drains and beaches. Festivities will include live music, displays, artists, awards, demonstrations and more. The event will take place at Parque Del Mar, in the Pier Bowl area where Avenida Del Mar meets the ocean. For more information call 949.366.2326 or see, www.scwatersheds.com.

Free Community Shred Day

9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monarch Bay Plaza hosts a free shred day with services provided by Paper Recycling and Shredding Specialists. The company is a licensed, bonded/insured cross-cut shredder. Watch your documents being shredded. Certificates of destruction will be available on request. Limit five Bankers Boxes per person. For more information, visit their website at www.mobileshred.net.  Attendees will have the opportunity to enter to win $1,000 in Monarch Plaza Bucks. 28 Monarch Bay Plaza, Dana Point, www.monarchbayplaza.com.

Volunteer scuba divers stand with hundreds of pounds of debris they recovered at a previous Dana Point Harbor underwater cleanup event. Courtesy photo
Volunteer scuba divers stand with hundreds of pounds of debris they recovered at a previous Dana Point Harbor underwater cleanup event. Courtesy photo

Saturday, May 10

Harbor Underwater Cleanup

8 a.m.-noon. The OC Dana Point Harbor is seeking certified volunteer scuba divers to participate in their 11th underwater cleanup. These cleanups are a key component in the Harbor’s continuing water quality improvement program. Previous events recovered over 35,000 pounds of miscellaneous debris which included tools, chairs, marine toilets, outboard motors, bicycles, skateboards, electronics and more. Aqualung America, Inc. will be awarding a scuba regulator for the most unusual item recovered. Participants will receive an event T-shirt, food and beverages throughout the event. Dana West Marina B-Dock, 24500 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, 949.493.6222, www.dphunderwatercleanup.com.

Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18

Eco Xpo: Garden and Sustainable Living Show

9 a.m.-4 p.m. Hosted by Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, the expo is aimed at educating and encouraging the creation of beautiful, bountiful and beneficial gardens while conserving resources through innovative landscape design, low-water plants and solar and LED lighting. The free event will feature demonstration gardens, expert speakers, local produce, activities for kids and more than 50 vendors offering environmental products and resources. Los Rios Park, 31790 Paseo Adelanto, San Juan Capistrano, 949.606.6386, www.goinnative.net.

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