A few years ago, I was walking through a public parking lot when I noticed a woman roll down her window and throw a dirty diaper out onto the ground. I was so shocked by her actions that I stopped and stared at her. For a moment she just looked at me, and I shook my head. I picked up the diaper and handed it to her and said, “I think you dropped this.” She took the diaper and rolled up her window and drove away hopefully embarrassed by her actions.

That has stuck with me for years. The blatant disregard for the environment and those around her was offensive to me. Over the years I have often found myself wondering if I am no better. I use plastic water bottles, I throw away things that could be recycled, I don’t think about a more efficient way to commute. I am one more person destroying this beautiful world when I should be doing everything in my power to preserve this planet for future generations, for my own children. I fear that as the problems with our planet continue to grow, and we struggle with our inability to find sustainable ways of life, we are overwhelmed by the problem and resolve to do nothing. But each day is new dawn and a new chance to change. So where do we start? 

the ecology center san juan capistrano 1At the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano there resides the resources we have all been looking for to better our lives while replenishing the Earth. Located in a 130 year old farmhouse, the Ecology Center is an educational center designed to teach family and communities alike about sustainable practices for the home and the environment. With classes, lectures, and hands on events, the Ecology Center is offering life changing services to help guide people as we face the undeniable need to adapt in order to save our planet – all at no cost to visitors.

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2014 kia optima hybridI had the pleasure of visiting the Ecology Center during Earth Week as a guest of Kia and arrived in the new 2014 Kia Optima Hybrid. Kia’s goal was to show us that while purchasing an eco-friendly vehicle is definitely a big step in the right direction, there are so many other ways to incorporate “green” into our daily lives.  They couldn’t have chosen a better real life example than the Ecology Center. I was immersed in a wealth of knowledge and instantly compelled to make some changes in my family’s lifestyle and home. 

the ecology center san juan capistrano 2What does the Ecology Center Offer?

With an incredible list of programs, the Ecology Center focuses on education as its best tool. It holds classes and discussions about the broader issues affecting our world such as ecological problems, organic farming, and water stewardship. On the one acre lot, Eco Labs for are set up to teach visitors about ecosystems with interactive lessons on water, food, waste, energy, and shelter. These labs provide helpful and useful information for modifying the necessary components of our daily lives.

the ecology center san juan capistrano 7They have hands on demonstrations to teach participants about natural living through things like cheese making, cooking classes for adults, veggie box demos, farm lab day camps for all ages, beekeeping, and anything you can think of that pertains to healthy, sustainable living. With a constantly evolving calendar, there is always something new to learn for every age group. It is never too early to start learning about taking care of the environment. It is an exciting and fun way to teach the whole family about better living in a real setting, and best of all, it’s all free!

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the ecology center san juan capistrano 3To get familiar with the mission of the Ecology Center take a free tour of the 1 acre estate, look around the Tools for Change Shop, and even browse the general store full of items and products made locally. Explore the farmhouse built in 1878 by Pony Express Rider Joel Congdon. It was one of the first wooden houses built, and in the yard Congdon planted Orange County’s first walnut grove initiating a long tradition of agriculture. Over the years families have come and gone from the home, and in 1991 the city bought the house. Its communal efforts to restore healthy living and sustainable ways of life have become an integral part of the community. You can also check out the availability for private and corporate events so you can share this wonderful resource with friends, family, and even co-workers.  

the ecology center san juan capistrano 4the ecology center san juan capistrano 5the ecology center san juan capistrano 6A staff of nine keeps this center running and provides constant new ideas to promote a better way of life for all. Evan Marks is the founder and executive director of the Ecology Center and his extensive background in permaculture and agro-ecology along with extensive travel make him the perfect candidate to encourage others to step forward and start taking care of the Earth. The inspiring, creative staff along with the board of directors keeps the Center moving forward and slowly spreading a clean living movement that we should all be joining for the sake of our planet.

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the ecology center san juan capistrano 9the ecology center san juan capistrano 8As a special treat, the Ecology Center hosted a delightful lunch made completely from all organic substances grown at the center – from vegetables and fruit to the chicken. The meal was so incredible, many of us had 2nd helpings.

the ecology center san juan capistrano 10Visit their website today to learn more and see how you can help through membership, volunteering, or donation. Be sure to check out the perks of each membership level and keep in mind that even your smallest actions have a huge impact. Make sure your actions are making a positive impact on the world around you. 

rain barrel (1)rain barrelI was so inspired that I purchased a 55 gallon rain barrel on the spot to install at home. Right now, So Cal Water is offering a HUGE $75 rebate, so making the $100 purchase was really a no-brainer for me! 

A huge thank you to Kia and the Ecology Center for hosting this enlightening day. 

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2 comments

  1. Now this is a place that I’d LOVE to visit! Not only visit but take some of those classes they offer as well. I’m always looking to better myself and my knowledge when it comes to being and trying to be eco-friendly. Now if only there were more places like this!

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