Spring Quarterly Newsletter – 2020

 Spring is in the Air at Solana Center

We’re 62 days into 2020 and I’m proud to share the team at Solana Center has already successfully launched a new program for the tiniest earth stewards, Solana Seedlings, and hosted 11 environmental education workshops teaching about composting and water conservation. 

I hope that you’ve had a memorable and sustainable start to this New Year. I want to take a moment to thank each of you individually for your help in closing out 2019 strong. In November and December alone, we raised 37% more donations than last year between #GivingTuesday and charitable end-of-year gifts. We deeply appreciate your contributions through donations and volunteer support to help Solana Center grow and thrive.

We continue to work on environmental issues that are top-of-mind for our region: food waste, recycling, and sustainable living. As urgency around climate change issues grows, we are working for you and our region to create and implement innovative solutions for cities, businesses, and residents to divert food waste from landfills, in turn preventing the creation of planet-warming greenhouse gases. At the same time, we are addressing recycling and single-use disposable plastics with community outreach and consulting in individual San Diego cities with a brighter future in mind.

Our teams are actively out in the community teaching at schools, local organizations, and our Center to educate about composting, zero-waste, and green-living. In the coming months, Solana Center is offering several workshops to introduce composting techniques and empower residents to work to create healthier soils. We also have our City of San Diego Master Composter Course starting in a few weeks for those who’d like to dive into the art and science of composting techniques. 

Many earth-protecting legislative changes are in sight as local sustainable movements are growing. We look forward to continuing this journey together!


Executive Director

From the Rotline: Are All Biodegradable Plastic Containers Compostable?

Q: What is the difference between biodegradable plastics and compostable plastics? 

A: Plastic that is compostable is biodegradable, but not every plastic that is biodegradable is compostable. Biodegradable plastic may be engineered to biodegrade in soil or water, whereas compostable plastic refers to biodegradation into soil conditioning material (i.e., compost) under a certain set of conditions. 

In order for a plastic to be labeled as commercially “compostable,” it must be able to be broken down by biological treatment at a commercial or industrial composting facility.

Passive or Active Composting: Which is right for you?

When asked what’s keeping folks from starting to compost at home, one of the most common responses is that they lack the time to do it. Time is a precious resource in our modern lives, and living an environmentally-friendly lifestyle often takes extra effort. However, we at Solana Center always try to emphasize that there is a composting solution for everyone: no matter the amount of space or spare time you have available.

To help people identify what works for them, it’s helpful to know the difference between passive composting and active composting. Both take advantage of the biological process of decomposition, but each requires different amounts of effort and have distinct benefits.

Volunteer Spotlight: Helen Bourne

We are honored to highlight Helen Bourne as this month’s Volunteer Spotlight! Helen is a Master Composter graduate and has been volunteering with Solana Center for over 20 years. She inspires us all with her dedication to show up and tend to the compost bins on-site every week. 

Helen shared that her experience volunteering with Solana Center has been as rewarding to her as it has been to the organization. “It is important for those without a yard or garden space to connect with nature,” Helen said. “Volunteering has been an important outlet to create a community around compost and spend time outdoors. It is so nice to see my own food scraps turned back into soil for the garden – I look forward to coming in every week!”  

Solana Center wouldn’t be the same without our volunteers. Thank you, Helen, and everyone else who contributes to our mission! If you’d like to volunteer with Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, view our volunteer page for details about the opportunities available.

Compost Training Workshop Series

Master Composter – City of San Diego

Become a Master Composter through this 5-part workshop series that includes hands-on training and a field trip. Priority registration will be given to City of San Diego residents. $25 course fee. Sponsored by the City of San Diego Environmental Services.
Tuesdays, March 17th – April 21st
5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
The Greenhaven at Ridgehaven
San Diego, CA


Composting & Vermicomposting Basics 

Join us for a free 2-hour presentation where you will learn how to improve the quality of your soil and reduce waste through backyard composting and vermicomposting (composting with worms). Sponsored by the City of San Diego Environmental Services.
Monday, March 2nd
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Allied Gardens Recreation Center
San Diego, CA


Saturday, March 7th
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Mira Mesa Recreation Center
San Diego, CA

All About Worm Composting Workshop 

Learn all about how easy it is to compost your food waste with red wriggler worms at this interactive presentation. Sponsored by the County of San Diego.
Thursday, March 12th 
6:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Alpine County Library
Alpine, CA

Manure Management & Composting Workshop

Learn how to both protect your local watershed and produce a fantastic soil product from large animal manure in this free workshop!
Sponsored by the County of San Diego.

Saturday, March 28th 
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Elfin Forest Interpretive Center
Escondido, CA

Saturday, April 4th 
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Iron Oak Canyon Ranch
Spring Valley, CA



Backyard Composting Intro & Bokashi Workshop

Bokashi is a method for fermenting all organic waste, including meat, dairy, and liquids. The process uses lactobacillus bacteria to predigest waste matter, which minimizes odors and decreases composting time. Learn how this composting method can help you improve the quality of your soil and reduce waste in this free presentation! Sponsored by the City of Encinitas.

Saturday, May 2nd 
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Lux Art Institute
Encinitas, CA


Green Living Tours

Would you like to live a more sustainable lifestyle? Join us for our monthly, one-hour tour in Encinitas for some easy steps to reduce water use and food waste, improve soil health and more, with practical solutions to incorporate into your daily life! If you find the inspiration to purchase composting supplies or borrow tools, our store and lending shed will be open.

Sign up and learn about the possibilities. Don’t forget to bring your e-waste to drop off! 

Saturday, March 7th
10:00 – 11:00 AM
Solana Center for Environmental Innovation
Encinitas, CA

$10 suggested donation



Spring Cleaning? Bring us Your E-Waste! 

E-waste is dangerous if it reaches the landfill because it leaches heavy and toxic metals into our environment and groundwater. Prevent pollution by bringing your old electronics to our Center during business hours to be repurposed or disposed of safely.

Want to donate as a business? Coastal North County businesses can sign up for e-waste pickup (in partnership with Urban Corps of San Diego). Pick up is available the 3rd Wednesday each month from 10 AM to 2 PM.




Keep it Local:
Make a Difference in Your Community With a Donation to Solana Center!

You get the gratification of knowing your money is helping environmental work here in San Diego AND a tax write-off! Click the “Donate” button below to contribute!

Additionally, AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support our environmental work every time you shop, at no cost to you. Just log on to smile.amazon.com and designate Solana Center as your recipient when you do your shopping.

This newsletter is made possible through generous support from the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, and the City of Encinitas.