Sustainable Milpitas

- September 2021 -

Fall is just around the corner! Prepare your home for the seasonal transition with this edition of Sustainable Milpitas! Follow these resourceful tips and join
engaging activities to make the best of summer's last bit of heat!
Reduce Your Outdoor Watering
We are in an extreme drought, and it’s more important than ever to use water wisely!
On August 5, the City declared a Water Shortage Level 2 Drought Emergency and implemented water use restrictions. Everyone is encouraged to conserve water to the maximum extent.
Half the water used in a typical home is outdoors. Take steps to reduce your outdoor water use by creating an easy-to-maintain, water-efficient landscape. Valley Water’s Landscape Rebate Program can help you transform your lawn and make your irrigation equipment more efficient.
“I converted my lawn to flowering plants, shrubs, and wood chips because of the severe water shortage during the last drought. My California native plants are now well-established and have tolerated the dry summers very well. The landscape rebate was much appreciated and my water bills have benefited. I enjoy my garden and it not only requires little water, but it also take little time to maintain.”

- Patti Sexton
Chair, Milpitas Energy & Environmental Sustainability Commission
Milpitas Resident
For a limited time, the City has partnered with Valley Water and increased the landscape conversion rebate to $3 per sq ft with a cap of $4,000 per residential site. Apply Today! Learn more at
The Olyns Bottle/Cans Redemption Machine
The Olyns recycling Cube is a modern, elegant machine that is loaded with the latest technology; at almost six feet tall, with a 65-inch full motion video screen, users say it looks like a giant iPhone! The Olyns Cube crushes and separates materials, uses AI-image recognition for dynamic deposit returns, and deploys touchless NFC login via the Olyns mobile app to complete transactions and credit users through Paypal. A single Olyns machine can compress and store more than 1,000 plastic bottles, 850 aluminum cans, and 50 glass bottles before it needs to be emptied. As the network of Olyns recycling cubes expands in the Bay Area and beyond, it will reduce the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and oceans, and meaningfully increase the supply of clean recycled PET.

Since 2013, 1400 (more than half) of the recycling centers in California have closed, leaving only 1200 to serve the entire state. As a result, many Californians don’t have convenient access to recycling, leading to an increase in plastic pollution and a staggering $580 million (out of a total of $1.5 billion) in unrefunded consumer bottle deposits. People are frustrated by this shortage of recycling centers and their inability to conveniently recycle and get their CRV deposits back.

Olyns helps with this. Olyns Cubes are conveniently located in places people already go, like grocery stores, so they don’t have to go out of their way to recycle. And recycling with Olyns is easy. Users simply download the Olyns app on their mobile phones, go to the closest Olyns machine, log in with touchless NFC, and start depositing their CRV containers. The Olyns app automatically credits the user’s account for every container they deposit - five cents for small containers, ten cents for large ones - and lets them cash out their balance anytime through Paypal. The Olyns app also has a dashboard so users can track their environmental impact - the # of containers they deposit, the CO2 they save, and the amount of waste they divert from landfills and oceans.

You can find out more about Olyns at, and download the app from the App Store or Google Play - just search for Olyns.
Prevent Covid Safety Products from Hurting the Environment
Personal protective equipment, known as PPE, exists to minimize or prevent exposure to injuries and illnesses. PPE include face-masks, plastic gloves, hats and safety glasses, to coveralls, earplugs, and respirators, much of which are made from single-use plastic. Without a system set in place for proper disposal of PPE, these items either head to the landfill or discarded in the environment. With demand and production of PPE continuing to escalate during the COVID-19 pandemic, natural habitats are increasingly threatened with contamination and pollution, and both terrestrial and marine wildlife are subjected to high risks of ingestion of PPE. 

Please do your part by following these general tips to reduce and/or properly dispose of these daily PPE items: 

When possible, choose fabric masks over surgical masks. Fabric masks can be washed and re-used multiple times, while surgical masks are meant to be discarded after one-time use. If making a mask at home, try to use scraps of cloth that would otherwise be discarded. Encourage friends and family to choose cloth masks. 

Before discarding masks, remember to cut the ear straps. Ear straps are hazardous to wildlife as their loops easily entangle and debilitate an animal’s legs and wings. 
Purchase hand-sanitizer in bulk to refill smaller bottles to avoid the purchase of multiple small bottles repeatedly. Choose glass instead of plastic containers and check recycling options for proper disposal.  
Coastal Clean-Up 2021 Santa Clara County
Trash can travel through storm drains, creeks, and rivers to become Bay pollution. 
To help lower the amount of litter entering the waterways and wildlife, the California Coastal Clean-Up took place throughout Santa Clara County on September 18, which included two sites: Tularcitos Creek at Peter Gill Memorial Park and Penitencia Creek at Hall Memorial Park.
18 volunteers helped to remove 24 pounds of trash and 10 pounds of recyclables at Penitencia Creek. And at Tularcitos Creek, 43 volunteers helped to remove a total of 60 pounds of trash and 3 pound recyclables. Some unusual items picked up alongside the common plastics and papers included a beach ball, confetti, a car floor mat, an inner-tube for a bicycle, and a piano on the road.
Learn to Make Sustainable Cleaning Products! 
DIY Sustainable Cleaning Products (online event)
Thursday, September 23 @5:30 PM - 6:30 PM

Reduce waste, avoid harmful chemicals, and save money by creating your own household cleaning supplies. Join Fiona Flynn as she shares some easy recipes she uses for laundry detergent, multi surface cleaning spray, and odor neutralizers.

Meet the teacher:
Fiona Flynn is Acterra's Young Professionals Recruitment Chair. She was born and raised in Palo Alto until she graduated from Gunn high school, when she moved to Iowa to attend Cornell College. Fiona earned her Bachelor’s degree from Cornell, where she focused on sustainable food marketing and distribution systems. Fiona worked on sustainable farms for a few years, first in vegetable/mushroom production, then in sheep and cow dairying. Fiona currently works for Whole Foods Market in Charlottesville, Virginia. In her spare time, Fiona loves to garden, bike to work, and go for long hikes with her dog.

Green@Home: EV Charging
EV Charging Workshop (online event)
Tuesday, September 28 @7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Join Acterra for the second workshop in their Fall Green@Home series encouraging more homeowners to electrify the home. Is the idea of charging an electric vehicle mysterious or confusing? Get more familiar with the basics of electric vehicle charging at this free workshop. Learn about resources for home and community EV charging, available rebates, and the procedure to optimize your EV charging experience. A PG&E representative will briefly discuss PG&E’s time-of-use rates and net energy metering. City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) will also join to discuss EV charging programs available to their residential customers.

This event is presented in conjunction with National Drive Electric Week and is generously supported by City of Palo Alto Utilities.

Reimagine the Workplace
Reimaging the Workplace (online event)
Thursday, September 30 @1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

Our Fall Forum will address how local organizations are adapting to "a new normal" and the implications to employee satisfaction and environmental factors.

Join the discussion with these experts:
Camille Johnson, PhD, Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Success, College of Social Sciences, San Jose State University
Christine Luong, Sustainability Manager, City of Palo Alto
Amelia Timbers, Principal Planner, Sustainability, Caltrain/SamTrans

What Gardening Events Exist in Our Community? 
Design with Native Plants & Succulents (Zoom Webinar)
Saturday, October 9 @ 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Learn how to design a visually successful native plant and succulent garden that requires low maintenance and little water. Course will also cover how to care for, irrigate, and propagate succulents.