November 2022 Sustainability Newsletter

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November 2022 Newsletter


Sustainability Newsletter

Board of County Commissioners

Approves Dark Skies Monitoring Project

MilkyWay Galisteo Basin, Image Credit Tony Bonanno

Last month, the Santa Fe County Board of County Commissioners approved an exciting new partnership between the County and the Santa Fe Conservation Trust to monitor the night sky. The night sky has long been a source of solace and wonder for humans. It is also critically important for nocturnal wildlife that depend on the darkness to hunt or hide from predators. Certain migratory birds even rely on the night sky for navigation! Unobstructed views of the stars are becoming increasingly rare as artificial light from cities and towns flood the sky. Excessive artificial light can disorient wildlife and is even thought to adversely affect human health. In 1999, New Mexico passed the Night Sky Protection Act to regulate outdoor lighting to reduce light pollution while conserving energy and promoting safety.

To help protect the night sky, Santa Fe County is partnering with the Santa Fe Conservation Trust (SFCT) to monitor light pollution. SFCT will install and operate three night-sky monitoring stations on the roofs of County buildings over a 10-year period. Data from these stations will be shared with the County Sustainability Office to support decision-making to preserve and enhance the night sky.

Want to get involved? Below are just a few ways you can help protect the night sky in your own backyard!

  • Consider how much light you need: Before installing or replacing a light, make sure it is serving a clear purpose, like illuminating a walkway.
  • Use shielding: Outdoor lights that emit light upwards or sideways are a primary contributor to light pollution. Use shielding to focus light where it is needed.
  • Install motion sensors or timers: Consider when you need a particular area to be illuminated. Where feasible, install motion sensors or timers so that the light is only on when you need enhanced visibility.
  • Choose appropriate light bulbs: Opt for warmer light colors and use energy efficient bulbs that are only as bright as you need.

Stay tuned for updates on dark sky monitoring in Santa Fe County!

Gratitude to the Community

Participants planting at Arroyo Hondo during an Earth Day event

This November, we would like to recognize the change-makers who generously give their time to the Santa Fe County community. Each year, community members support beautification initiatives, help protect natural resources, lend their expertise on advisory committees, and offer input during public meetings.

Volunteers in the Santa Fe County Adopt-a-Road Program carry out clean ups along County roadways at least twice per year, with some participants cleaning their roads nearly every day! Together, they have picked up over 145 bags of trash this year. A team at Las Golondrinas collected 50 bags of trash along Los Pinos Road in this year’s largest single clean-up event.

More than 65 community members lent a helping hand at five County Earth Day events in 2022. Participants planted more than 250 trees, flowers, and shrubs in community facilities, affordable housing developments, and at a County open space.

In addition, Master Naturalist volunteers play a key role in maintaining County open spaces. Master Naturalists attend 12 weeks of classroom and field training to deepen their understanding of the ecology and environmental issues in New Mexico. They then complete at least 30 volunteer hours with local organizations, including the Santa Fe County Open Space Program. In 2022, Master Naturalists were instrumental in monitoring plants and wildlife, removing invasive species, and addressing erosion on County open spaces.

Community members also generously share their expertise by serving on County advisory boards. In 2022, the County launched its Single-Use Plastics and Polystyrene Working Group. This group is conducting important research to make informed recommendations concerning an educational program and impacts of single-use plastic and polystyrene products on the community.

Deepest gratitude for all the many ways community members give their time to these and other local initiatives!

Go Green this November!

Drawing of a bird carrying a reusable shopping bag

Take action to reduce your carbon footprint and support your community this holiday season! Below are a few tips to green up your November.

  • Shop local: Buying locally produced food and goods is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and support small businesses. Check out local farmer’s markets and artisan’s markets for holiday gifts and food. Save on New Mexico Gross Receipts Tax by shopping on Small Business Saturday on November 26.
  • Try vegetarian recipes: You can lower your carbon footprint by opting for plant-based meals using local and in-season ingredients. In general, more energy, land, and water are required to produce meat than plant-based foods. Producing just one kilogram of beef generates 70.6 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions while producing the same quantity of vegetables generates just 0.7 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions. Incorporating more vegetables into your diet is good for your health and the planet. Click here for climate-conscious recipes!
  • Keep food out of the landfill: Food waste made up over 20% of the material that was sent to landfills in the United States in 2018. Reduce food waste at the source by planning your meals in advance and taking an inventory of your kitchen before you shop. Be sure to properly store food to maximize its shelf life and compost kitchen scraps to return nutrients to the soil.

Thanks for all you do to support our community!

Our November Picks

(Click on the blue titles for more information)

Household hazardous waste area at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station

Free Household Hazardous Waste Drop off Day at BuRRT 

Saturday, November 5

9:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Drop off household cleaners, automotive products, paints, solvents, fertilizers, batteries, and other household hazardous waste for free on November 5th at the Buckman Road Recycling and Transfer Station (BuRRT). Click here to learn more about what is accepted as household hazardous waste at BuRRT.

Nature Lover's Book Club Flyer

Nature Lover's Book Club

Wednesday, November 16

6:00 - 7:30 PM

Join the Nature Lover’s Book Club this month for a discussion of “Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures” by
Merlin Sheldrake.

Recycled art

Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival

Friday, November 11 to Sunday, November 13

Get an early start on holiday shopping at the country’s largest and oldest recycled art market at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

Little bluestem grasses at the Santa Fe Botanical Gardens

Community Day at the Garden

Friday, November 25

10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Enjoy the outdoors during Community Day at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. Admission will be free to
New Mexico residents and students with appropriate identification on
November 25.

Ready Set Grow banner

Ready, set, GROW

Wednesday, November 16

Learn how to preserve food during this webinar hosted by the New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service.

Holiday lights at the Santa Fe Plaza

Plaza Holiday Lighting Event

Friday, November 25

4:30 - 8:30 PM

Head over to the Santa Fe Plaza to enjoy the holiday lights at this community event!


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Sustainability Questions?

We are your local advisors on all things sustainability in Santa Fe County. Contact us with questions or to suggest topics for future newsletters!

Jacqueline Beam,

Nav Khalsa,

Caitlin Weber,

Click to visit the Sustainability webpage