March 2021 Sustainability Newsletter

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March 2021 Newsletter

Get Ready for Spring! 


Avo holding the earth
Recycling Piles

More Stuff = More Trash 

While tires and plastics are some of the most difficult items to recycle at a rate of 100%, Santa Fe County was able to recycle 33.4 tons of tires in 2020. Certainly, the recycling rate numbers are showing improvements nationwide and the County has increased overall recycling as well, recycling 1% more materials in 2020 than in 2019, to achieve a rate of 17% diversion from the landfill. Yet, there is a great deal more improvement that can be made. Recycling rejection rates due to contaminants increased four-fold from 2019 to 2020. 

It is hoped that the recently increased service hours will improve these numbers. Santa Fe County Solid Waste and Recycling Convenience Centers announced schedule changes that began February 21, 2021. All convenience centers are now open during the lunch hour, between noon and 1:00 p.m. In addition, the Jacona and Eldorado convenience centers are open on Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 

While the national average recycling rate is approximately 30%, even more can be achieved through rethinking food scraps and organic matter from your yard as "waste", which can account for as much as 28% of the material in a household's trash bin. An easy way to reduce this waste is by composting food and green waste, and in doing so, creating healthy soil for your garden. Most importantly, household waste can be significantly reduced by changing purchasing patterns to support manufacturers that use less packaging or compostable packaging and products, and reusing materials rather than purchasing them new.  

To learn more about the expansion of solid waste services in Santa Fe County, which materials can and cannot be disposed of at County convenience centers, how to purchase solid waste permits, and to view the hours of operations of all County convenience centers, visit the Solid Waste web page. And remember, recycling is mandatory in Santa Fe County! Let's all do our part to increase the County's 17% recycling rate.

Pollinator Network

Pollinator Habitats: Gardening for Bees!

A number of locations will be planted by volunteers in the spring to kick-off Earth Day 2021 celebrations throughout the County. Riparian areas such as the Pojoaque Recreation Complex and the Santa Fe River greenway beginning at the San Isidro Crossing, a number of trails, and community facility sites such as the Hondo Fire Station, Edgewood Senior Center and the Max Coll Community Center, will enjoy increased pollinator patches and corridors as a result of these volunteer efforts. The Sustainability Office and Open Space, Trails and Parks Program are also working along with a number of organizations including the Xerces Society, the National Audubon Society, Santa Fe Watershed Association, and Master Gardener's Club, to name a few, in supporting the City of Santa Fe's certification as a Bee City. This effort is recognized as extremely important for ensuring biodiversity and healthy agriculture throughout all of our backyards. The National Pollinator Garden Network is busy working further to create networks throughout the US, Canada and Mexico to register a million plus pollinator gardens.

Sign up here to volunteer for Earth Day and help expand pollinator habitats in Santa Fe County!

WaterSMART Conservation

WaterSMART Grant and the Santa Fe River Watershed

Santa Fe County recently committed to working with the Santa Fe Watershed Association to support the successful outcome of their WaterSMART grant, “Linking Stakeholder Priorities with Water Management & Adaptation Strategies in the Santa Fe River Watershed.” The grant provides a unique and powerful way to translate the need, usage, and historical connection to water throughout the County's main watershed through qualitative methods of storytelling. In order to address water security concerns throughout the community, the Santa Fe Watershed Association, in partnership with Utah State University and Geosystems Analysis, Inc., will "record, rank, and geographically orient," the priorities of diverse stakeholders in order to better inform future watershed management planning. 

To find out more visit, or email


What Can I Do? Keep it Covered and Increase Infiltration!

Unfortunately, pollinators will be even more stressed this coming summer as it is expected to be hotter and drier than usual. However, you can start now to prepare your beds for the harsher conditions:

  • Set up your garden more like a rain garden or make use of dryland farming techniques to fully take advantage of runoff and surface water.
  • Prolong and increase the dampness in your beds by using your leaves as mulch instead of throwing them away in the fall.
  • Keep all earth covered with thicker layers of organic matter such as wood chips or thick and hardy, drought tolerant living ground cover—you can also use clippings from winter deciduous branches for mulch.
  • Plant drought tolerant pollinator plants native to our high desert area and eliminate the use of all pesticides.
  • Direct the water from your rooftop to your rain garden area.
  • Use your rain barrels for irrigation.
  • Plant native, drought tolerant trees to provide more shade canopy and protection against water evaporation and wind.

And enjoy your beautiful garden as much as possible, by spending more time making friends with each and every plant, inviting others to enjoy your plant and pollinator community and join in on the buzz, by embracing the nurturing, therapeutic healing of soil under the nails and fragrant smells for the heart and soul!

Our March Picks

(Click on orange title and text below for associated links and information.)

Cherry Tomatoes

Ready, Set, GROW!

March 3 and 17, 3:00 p.m.

Join NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service in their online gardening webinar series to learn about recommended gardening practices. March 3 will feature "Designing Landscapes for Diversity" and March 17 is about Pruning Basics. Register for the March 3 webinar here, and March 17 webinar here

Acequia Career Day

Acequia Career Day

March 4, 4:00 p.m.

New Mexico youth are invited to join an exciting Acequia Career Day event! This gathering will include presentations by inspiring experts and leaders who work in many diverse ways to protect NM acequia waters and acequia culture and traditions. The presentations will be followed by opportunities for participants to dig deeper and ask questions about specific career and livelihood paths. Register here!

Herb Garden

Demo Herb Garden Workshop

March 13 and 14

Join the Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners for a virtual demo on how to propagate your very own herb garden. Sign up here.

Vegetable Gardening

A Beginner's Guide to Low-Cost Vegetable Gardening

Ideas for Cooking and Nutrition's (ICAN) Seed to Supper program is hosting a live virtual series on gardening in New Mexico throughout the month of March and into early April.

¡El curso de Siembra la Cena también se ofrece en español!

Space is limited 30 participants, so register here today!

Citizen Survey

Take the Santa Fe County Citizen Survey! 

Let us know how we are doing! 

Survey here!


Backyard Composting Training

March 3, 6, and 10

Learn how to reduce waste at home and create healthy soils in your own backyard through the New Mexico Recycling Coalition's virtual backyard composting training, which also provides free tools and training to set up your own household composting system. Register here!

If you can't make it to these sessions, keep an eye on our website these coming weeks to apply for free home-composting installations and training provided by Santa Fe County!


Track the 2021 Legislative Session

The New Mexico legislature will be in session until March 20. See the Sierra Club's Rio Grande Chapter handy legislative tracker tool that focuses on priority bills supporting the protection of the environment and health of New Mexicans.

The Community Solar Act, Senate Bill 84, will soon be heard and voted on in the New Mexico Senate

Sign this petition

to support the Bill!

Sustainability Comments or Questions?

We are your local advisors on all things sustainability in Santa Fe County. Call us about anything from water conservation, cleaner transportation, solar and renewable energy, composting, recycling, etc. Or let us know what you would like to learn more about in our newsletter. 


Jacqueline Beam, 505.992.9832

Adeline Murthy, 505.992.9862