Community Environmental Council Board Members and Staff
Courtesy Photo

The Plaza del Sol at Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort looked like a scene from FernGully: The Last Rainforest for the Community Environmental Council’s “Eco-Chic” Green Gala. This celebration of 40 years of environmental leadership in Santa Barbara took place on Friday, October 8.

“We hope those who are passionate about our mission to reduce fossil fuels will celebrate this evening while helping to change our world at the same time,” said Sigrid Wright, assistant director at the CEC, in a written statement.

Celebrations are a time of letting loose, but still the CEC took no break from saving the environment. Many strategies were implemented to keep the event as green as possible. These included using fewer dishes in order to use less water to wash them, refilling water glasses per request, printing fewer programs, and using ultra-low energy LED lighting and a bio-diesel generator. Borrowed and reusable items made up the décor. Green Project Consultants was onsite to sort waste generated by the event. (Last year’s Green Gala had a composted diversion rate was over 90 percent.) And guests collected CEC “Greenpoints” for prizes by making energy-saving home improvements in the last year.

CEC volunteers
Courtesy Photo

A live auction took place of items and services including a Kelly Slater surfboard, a Branden Aroyan photo session, a Jeff Bridges Package, and an evening of music with Jack Johnson. Proceeds went to the CEC’s efforts.

Started in 1970, the CEC was initially established to prevent future oil spills. It is responsible for introducing curbside recycling—CEC’s was the first nonprofit recycling center in California—which helped lead nationwide curbside recycling programs. Throughout its 40-year reign over the Santa Barbara green movement, the CEC has involved itself with various organizations and garden projects that have since become their own entities.

Five years ago, the CEC reinvented itself by undertaking the mission of “Fossil Free by ’33” to transition the region from fossil fuels in one generation. According to Kathi King, CEC’s donor relations manager, the CEC is currently working to implement more bike-friendly accommodations and instant carpooling networks via text messaging. And, it is looking toward making the community compatible with new electric vehicles.

How can you make a difference without waiting for major legislations to pass? You can start by joining the CEC’s e-newsletter for tips, said King. Write to your congressional representatives, county supervisors, and city council members, bring your own reusable bags and refillable water bottles—every little bit helps, she added.

The CEC believes that Santa Barbara can serve as a role model for other communities and that it only takes a few people to start making a difference.


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