March 2012 Archives

Local Teen Leads High School Waste Assessment Program

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Lujain Al-Saleh, a student at Ventura's Foothill Technology High School (, doesn't like trash.  So, this month, as part of her school's senior student community service requirement, she led a Hero project in waste assessment in the school courtyard.


Ten students dumped the contents of all the trash receptacles at the school on the lawn onto huge tarps, dividing the waste into categories such as 1-Styrofoam (or cardboard) trays, 2-spork packets, 3-milk and juice boxes, cartons and non-recyclable beverage containers, 4-fruits and vegetables, 5-trash, 6-litter and 7- recyclable items (cereal cups, recyclable bottles, pudding cups and snack-ables).




Lujain plans to write up a "how to manual" for other students who want to do the same at their schools. 


"I started getting interested in trash reduction when I attended the Ventura Charter School," says Lujain.  "I want to get other students engaged and aware of waste and its impact on the environment."



The assessment conducted on March 23 provides a baseline estimate for how much waste is generated at Foothill annually.  From this one assessment, it can be estimated that about 22.7 tons of trash is sent to the landfill each year from the trashcans located within the common areas in the main quad, not including trash from individual classrooms or other buildings.


Foothill Technology High School Waste Assessment Data (3/22/12)



Total (lbs)

Average Daily Total








Disposable Utensils/Spork Packets






Milk Cartons & Juice Boxes or Pouches






Fruits & Vegetables for Composting












Recyclable Items






Total Amount:







Lujain has already set up a CRV collection and recycling program and has initiated recycling programs at school events such as track meets and other sporting events.  Her Hero project advisor, Rick Villano, was also present at the waste assessment.


When Rosie Ornelas, from the City of Ventura's "Volunteer Ventura," found out Lujain was interested in protecting the environment, she was introduced to Environmental Specialist, Jill Sarick, who provides environmental education classes and leads regular waste assessments at the Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) elementary schools.


"It's important to engage students at their level of understanding and then build upon that knowledge in a creative and entertaining style," said Sarick.


The waste sort program is a recent collaboration between VUSD Healthy and Green Schools Partnership and the City's Environmental Sustainability Division. In the program, already conducted at 10 of the 16 elementary schools, 5th grade students help Sarick sort through lunchtime trash to glean information that could help reduce waste.  So far, it is estimated that roughly 297 tons of material from only the lunch waste is set to the landfill each school year from these 10 schools alone.


At one school, the sorting team discovered a significant number of unopened milk cartons and uneaten apples from the school lunch program discarded in the trash.  Further analysis showed that one cause could be students' impatience to get to recess, which immediately followed lunch.       Some schools have students go to recess first and then come in to eat lunch. In fact, a lunchtime waste assessment at another school, where recess precedes lunch, showed almost no such waste. 


"These educational waste assessment programs, as well as other educational programs teach concepts of recycling, composting, water conservation, stormwater pollution prevention and other environmentally friendly "best" practices to more than 4,000 students per year," said Sarick. 


Environmental Education Programs are provided FREE to all schools in the City of Ventura. Curriculum used in the classroom presentations aligns with State curriculum guidelines for all grade levels. For more information, contact:  Jill Sarick at (805) 652-4501 or email,


-Maryann Ridini Spencer for VC Style/Sustainable Ventura



Conscious Eating: It's More Than Just A Meal!

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Simply Delicious Living is, in part, about making every meal

an experience and - when it comes your body-mind-

spirit balance - it's about living a healthy, creative, fulfilling

and joyous life.


There are certain things we do everyday - often without

thinking -


  • Wash our face
  • Brush our hair and our teeth
  • Sleep
  • Take a shower
  • Eat


How many times have you grabbed a muffin, piece of toast,

or power bar with coffee to eat while driving in the car?  Or

eaten a sandwich doing work at the computer?  What about

nuking a lean cuisine or TV dinner in the microwave to

eat while watching TV?


I must say, I've been a culprit of all of the above.


However, when you eat like this, usually you grab the

foods that aren't as nutritious for you.  You might not even

remember what you ate.  Worse, you might not even be able to

pronounce all the ingredients on the packaging. 


Your dissatisfaction with inhaling your meal less than

two minutes might even drive you to scan the refrigerator

and freezer for something else to satisfy you.


I've been there too.


What I've noticed for myself, is that when I slow down,

consciously think about what I'm eating, (making sure by

reading the labeling that it's organic, natural), yet also tasty

to me, I get satisfied more quickly. I also feel better both

physically and mentally.

Conscious eating has also been a lifesaver in keeping my

weight in check.

What are some great tips to conscious, healthy eating that will

make you more satisfied?

•Plan ahead.  Make a list of what foods/meals you'd like to enjoy

each week and what you'll have time to prepare.  Create a shopping

list before you visit the market


•Purchase and prepare foods with ingredients you can pronounce

and know what they are.


•Eat fresh and local produce whenever possible.  This contributes

to your overall health as well as the local economy and the

environment (less greenhouse gas emissions from importing!).


•Cook, steam, grill or eat your foods raw vs. nuking in the



•Enjoy the foods you like, within reason.  If it's dessert you're

craving, seek out healthy alternatives that will satisfy.  (Visit our

Recipe and Video Blog at SimplyDeliciousLiving.TV.  We have

some great desserts made with fruit and/or made with very

little sugar).


•Enjoy the preparation.  As you make your meal, consider all

the ingredients and what you're putting into your body - and

your body's history and reaction to them after eating.


•Take the time to sit down and enjoy a meal (minus the electronics).

Use it for family time and for good conversation.  If you're alone,

put on your favorite CD, enjoy the meal preparation and then as you

eat, savor the flavors.   I assure you, it will put a smile on your face!


•Breathe.  As you eat your meal, rather than shoveling the food

non-stop, breathe between bites. Let your brain have a chance to

register that you're getting full.


•Appreciate and give thanks.  Thank the farmers, the store, the

food growers, yourself or your loved ones who prepared the

meal - and thank God and the Universe, for the delicious food

that you are about to eat that will nourish and satisfy your body

and provide you with sustenance to live and create harmoniously!

LISTEN to the Conscious Eating PodcastCLICK HERE

SUBSCRIBE to our weekly podcast in iTunes or at our RSS Feed

and SUBSCRIBE our Recipe & Video Blog at

SimplyDeliciousLiving.TV for great recipes and creative

inspirations for joyous living!

$30,000 Grant Opportunity for Businesses - Apply by April 1, 2012

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Business Grant Opportunity

Reusables Funding up to $30,000

Apply by April 1, 2012!


Reusable Grants requests up to $30,000 are available for businesses and other organizations that are planning to incorporate reusable packaging into their transport and distribution.


Eligible Projects should focus on waste prevention and specifically reusable transportation (projects that replace single - or limited - use transport packaging with durable pallets or bins, reusable pallet-wrap, expanded use of intermediate bulk containers, IBCs).


To be eligible, programs need to be implemented within six months of application or have already been implemented in the six months prior to application.

To find out more, Visit the City of Ventura's Environmental Sustainability Blog.


Creating Abundance In Your Life

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By Maryann Ridini Spencer

When I was a child and as I grew up, my mother always taught my brothers, sister and I how to visualize what we wanted to achieve.  She was a great believer in positive thinking and "affirming" good. 


"Think positive.  Goal Set.  See yourself achieving what you desire,"  she would tell us.


"Visualize it in your mind's eye.  Don't worry about how you might get there; just see the positive end picture.  Say to yourself, I can do it.  I deserve it!"


Let me give you some of examples.


My brothers loved to play sports.  When it was baseball season, she would tell them before they started their game, "When you get up to bat, see yourself hitting that home run.  Put the words "No" and "I can't" OUT of your vocabulary."

When it was football season, she would tell them, "See yourself catching that ball and making that touchdown.  Hear and see the crowd cheer.  Say, I can do it!"


Some of my favorite hobbies were the home arts - cooking, sewing, decorating. After performing in my first school play at age 12, I realized I also enjoyed acting.


One summer when I was in junior high, I was very bored and complained to my Mom that I was too young to get a paying job. So, when she read in the paper that my school would be starting up a summer theatre workshop for junior high students, she encouraged me to audition.


My mother told me to visualize myself acting on the school stage and enjoying my time in the theatre.  I did.   As a result, for several summers thereafter,  I was a happy, active member of the theatre group. 


Whether my siblings and I realized it or not at the time, my mother's powerful strategies for visualizing and making positive affirmations, was invaluable to our development.  


My father, a professor and PhD, also set an amazing example of how important it was to study and do well in school.  Our schooling and homework were always carefully monitored so that we might achieve to our fullest potential.


These positive and empowering messages and examples would serve us well in making a firm foundation in order to venture forth as adults.


A positive attitude can fuel success.  It  will always make you feel better.   Count on it to put you on your path to manifest incredible change.


So what constitutes a positive affirmation?


Every thought you think.  Every word you say. Every image that you see in your mind's eye is an affirmation regardless of whether it's positive or negative.


You've heard the saying, "You are what you eat?"  Well, "You are what you believe and what you think!"


While all beliefs and thoughts, both useful and not useful, may be set in childhood,  there's nothing like taking hold of the present in order to enact change today.


We continually "affirm" to our subconscious what we believe about our world and ourselves all day long.


Sometimes using affirmations and visualizing the positive may feel like you're dreaming or being foolish, but in fact, it's the first step in breaking through old belief patterns that do you no good.


Here are some examples of positive affirmations and as you say them, see yourself in demonstration.


•Every cell in my body is healthy, working properly and sustaining me in living a beautiful, healthy and productive life.


•I am so blessed to be working in a job that I love and that provides me with financial success.


•I pay my bills with a happy heart knowing that money in my life is abundant.


*My partner and I love each other and we are surrounded by and totally encompassed in an ever increasing abundance of peace, harmony, serenity, faith, hope, charity, love, health, healing, happiness, joy, success, prosperity and respect. 


•I express my needs and feelings in a way where people listen and respond positively to me.


•Love, happiness, peace, harmony and abundance surround my family and me.


There are many books on the market you can enjoy about positive thinking.  Visit our Recipe & Video Blog at and search "Creating Abundance" for a reading list.


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Enjoy simply delicious living - today and every day!

A VC Style/Simply Delicious Living "Food For Thought" Podcast - Creating Your Own 'Luck of the Irish'

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Direct from the Writer's Desk, Maryann Ridini Spencer,  shares a NEW way to look at "the luck of the Irish" and "Create Your Own Luck!"

Cut Pot of gold rainbow.jpg

VC Style
Maryann Ridini-Spencer produces video stories about environmentally friendly and healthy living in Ventura County.

She co-hosts "Sustainable Ventura" with Ray Olson on CAPS-TV's VTV, Channel 15 as well as "Simply Delicious Living with Maryann" on Time Warner Cable ON DEMAND.