Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Free 6-week green living workshop begins next week

Want to walk the environmentalist’s walk — but don’t know how? If you live on the westside — or are willing to take long weekly rides on the bus or bike — sign up to take a Green Living Workshop with Santa Monica’s environmental nonprofit Sustainable Works. The 6-week crash course offers eco-education, green camaraderie, and free money-saving gadgets — all at no cost to you.

The Green Living Workshop brings together a few dozen would-be environmentalists into one room in Santa Monica once a week for six weeks, tackling a topic like “water” or “transportation” at each meeting. Workshop participants are then encouraged to apply what they’ve learned in the room out in the real world — armed with a free WorksBook with up-to-date environmental information and free eco-gadgets like low flow showerheads, CFL bulbs, and even worms for the compost bin. And the dedicated environmentalists who finish the 6-week course with perfect attendance even get a gift bag at the end filled with yet more green goodies.

The workshops bring together a wide variety of people, according to Barent Roth, Sustainable Works’ executive director and a friend of mine. Some participants are newbies inspired to take action after reading an article or two in the paper, while others are green entrepreneurs brushing up to stay current on the latest green living info. The majority are somewhere in the middle. “They’re people who for a while have realized there is a problem, but don’t quite know what to do,” says Barent.

Taught by instructors who’ve gone through Sustainable Works’ training program, the workshops seek to make green living not just possible but also enjoyable for its participants. Gina Garcia, who heads up the workshop program, says the participants get tools and knowledge so “they can feel empowered to make changes that have an effect.” Once the participants start taking action, many discover they enjoy the new changes — like the taste of farmers’ market produce and the road-rage-free bus trip.

“It ends up not being a sacrifice but it improves their quality of life and saves them money,” Barent says. And while the bulk of the workshop focuses on making arguably smaller changes to eco-fy the participants’ lives, Barent says that taking these personal actions often leads to participants engaging in larger collective action, pushing for greener local, state, national and international policies.

The Green Living Workshop program is funded by the City of Santa Monica, which is why the workshops are free, though participants are usually asked to contribute a $25 to $50 donation to help expand the program. No fee or donation is required, however, and in fact, the set of workshops happening at the Santa Monica Main Public Library this time around will not even request donations, due to the library’s policies on the matter.

Sign up now for the next round of classes, picking between Monday nights starting on Oct. 11 or Wednesday nights starting on Oct. 13. Or if those dates don’t work for you, sign up for emails from Sustainable Works to get an alert when the next round of workshops are offered. You’ve got nothing to lose but your carbon footprint –

Image: Sustainble Works