The transition to a new year can often be a good time to evaluate existing habits and to look to adopt new ones. If you’re still trying to think of some good New Year’s goals or resolutions to shrink your environmental footprint in 2021, here are our favorite 10 ways to conserve resources, reduce pollution and support our local wildlife in Davis!

1. Keep wildlife wild — do not feed them.

While feeding wildlife might sound like a good thing, it often leads to human vs. wildlife conflict and the resulting need for corrective management. Feeding wild animals can also contribute to wildlife health issues.

2. Watch what you put down your drains.

Sewer pipes are built to handle liquids, not solids. Solid items that go down drains (yes, even from garbage disposals) and toilets cause sewer back-ups, which in your home can be an expensive problem, and sewer backups on our streets can harm the environment.

Often the biggest culprits of backups are “flushable wipes” and fats, oils and grease. More information about these issues and how to prevent backups at home can be found at — just click on the link for “Pretreatment.”

3. Recycle and compost your waste.

Did you know that more than 75% of what we currently throw away could be recycled or composted instead? Hard plastic items (not Styrofoam, plastic bags or plastic wrap) can be recycled along with metal cans and glass bottles. Junk mail, wrapping paper and magazines are recyclable, too.

Used paper towels, used facial tissues, paper plates and paper take-out food packaging can go in your brown-lidded organics cart along with food wastes and yard materials. If you have questions on what goes in each cart, visit

4. Choose fewer toxic items.

Try using baking soda, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or castile soap for natural and less toxic cleaning. Choose rechargeable batteries to power up your electronics instead of toxic, single-use batteries. Control pests with the least toxic control methods.

The next time you need to replace a bulb, choose an LED bulb. LEDs do not contain any toxic chemicals and compared to other types of lighting, they save more energy, last longer and offer comparable or better light quality.

Dispose of any hazardous waste items you do have properly at the Household Hazardous Waste Facility at the Yolo County Landfill. It’s open every Friday and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for free and safe disposal.

5. Use water efficiently.

Whether our region is in drought (or not), it’s always important to conserve water. Be sure to dial back your irrigation in the winter, the shorter days and cooler temperatures mean that landscape areas need less water. Remember to water with the weather: turn off your irrigation when it rains and keep it off for 48 hours after a rain event.

Visit to sign-up for the city’s online customer water use portal, AquaHawk, to monitor your daily and hourly water usage and to set usage alerts. You can use AquaHawk to check for potential leaks around the home.

6. Drink tap water.

Davis tap water meets and exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards — which are stricter and require more rigorous testing than bottled water. Avoid plastic waste and drink from the tap instead of buying bottled water. If you have a health issue that could be impacted by drinking tap water, please check with your doctor.

More information on city water quality can be found at

7. Prevent litter.

You’ve likely heard about the problem of trash and plastics in our oceans. A large portion of the trash that ends up in our oceans and waterways originates from inland sources when rainwater and wind push trash from the streets into our stormwater system. Trash is then transported via rivers and waterways to the bay and eventually, to the ocean.

Help to keep our waterways and oceans clean by keeping waste bin lids closed so wind can’t blow waste out. If you are transporting waste in a vehicle, make sure all materials are secured so that it won’t blow out when a door or window is opened. Don’t place loose waste in the back of a pick-up truck where it can easily blow out when you start driving.

8. Consider bypassing your water softener.

Now that the city uses Sacramento River water, our tap water is much softer. Try bypassing your water softener to determine if the current level of water hardness is acceptable for your home or adjust the grains setting on the water softener accordingly.

Reducing or eliminating the use of water softeners can help protect water quality by reducing salt loading to wetlands and waterways and can also save water and energy costs.

9. Plant a tree.

Trees boost the community’s well-being for generations to come. Contact Tree Davis to see if you can get a free tree through the Community Canopy program — a special program created to provide these free trees to homes, businesses, schools and parks throughout the city of Davis.

The program will plant and care for the new trees, which will clean our air, cool our homes and create beautiful, relaxing outdoor spaces.

To request a free tree for your property from this grant program, please visit and click on the link at the top for Programs, then select City of Davis.

And last but certainly not least …

10. Follow us on social media!

Stay up-to-date on sustainability topics in Davis by following us at @GreenerDavis on Facebook and Instagram. Better yet, subscribe to our free monthly email newsletter to be the first to find out about free compost giveaways, conservation workshops, new programs, and more.

Visit and click on the link to sign up for the newsletter.

— Jennifer Gilbert is a city of Davis conservation coordinator; this column is published monthly. Reach her at