a person standing at a booth with succulents while an adult and child point at them

Carbon Sequestration and Water Use

Through planting trees, reducing carbon in building materials, and exploring additional opportunities, carbon sequestration will be a key strategy in our carbon mitigation. Atherton also has goals to conserve water in both landscaping and buildings.

Carbon Sequestration

What is Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is like Earth's natural recycling system for carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that causes climate change. It's the process of capturing and storing carbon dioxide, often in trees and plants or deep underground, to help reduce its presence in the atmosphere. 

Trees and forests are one of the most significant examples, as they absorb carbon dioxide from the air during photosynthesis and store it as carbon in their trunks, branches, and roots. Oceans also play a crucial role by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Wetlands, like marshes and swamps, capture carbon too, as organic matter gets buried in their muddy soil. 

a path going through a dense forest in the San Francisco bay area
a photo of a landscaped garden

An Atherton resident's garden grown using the free organic compost!

Did You Know Atherton has Free Compost?

Using compost in your gardens helps sequester carbon by providing a natural way to store carbon in the soil. When you add compost to your garden, you're putting in organic materials like food scraps and yard waste. Over time, microorganisms in the soil break down these materials, turning them into stable organic matter. This organic matter acts like a sponge, holding onto carbon from the atmosphere and keeping it in the soil. So, using compost not only enriches your garden's soil but also helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air! 

Learn more about how you can pick up free organic compost today!

Free Organic Compost Flyer

Carbon Sequestration

Using Building Materials to Sequester Carbon

Using certain building materials can help sequester carbon by trapping and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere within the structure. For instance, some types of concrete can be mixed with materials like volcanic ash or recycled carbon dioxide to make a product called "carbon-negative concrete." This concrete absorbs more carbon dioxide over time than it emits during its production, effectively locking away carbon. Additionally, timber and wood-based materials, when sourced sustainably, store carbon from trees for the life of the building. Choosing these materials in construction helps reduce the overall carbon footprint of the building, contributing to climate change mitigation. 

The Town is exploring pilot projects with companies using these types of building materials to help reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. 

wooden planks stacked up
infographic showing the natural process of photosynthesis

Tree Canopy

How Trees Sequester Carbon

Trees naturally sequester carbon through a process called photosynthesis. They absorb carbon dioxide from the air through tiny openings in their leaves, and then, with the help of sunlight, they convert that carbon dioxide into sugars and oxygen. Trees store the carbon in their trunks, branches, and roots as they grow. This stored carbon helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is essential for fighting climate change. 

closeup of a faucet dripping

Water Consumption

Why We Need to Reduce Water Consumption

Reducing water consumption is important to fight climate change because it's linked to energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. When we use water, especially for heating or treatment, it often requires energy. Producing hot water or treating wastewater can release greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Additionally, climate change can lead to water scarcity and droughts, making it crucial to conserve water resources. By using water wisely, like fixing leaks and using water-efficient appliances, we can reduce the energy and emissions associated with water use and help mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Water Consumption

Sustainable Landscaping with Rain Barrels

One way to reduce water consumption is through the use of rain barrels. A rain barrel is a big container that collects rainwater from your roof through a downspout. It works by storing rainwater that would usually flow away, and you can later use this to water your plants and garden. It also is a great way to water your plants with additive-free water! Your plants will thank you as these additives in our tap water are removed from the soil.

The San Mateo County Flows to Bay program has excellent resources and a rebate program to help you acquire your rain barrel! Help us put Atherton on the map (literally! let's fill up this map!) by getting a rain barrel and adding your home to the map. 

screenshot of a map showing the locations of home with rain barrels in San Mateo County

Screenshot taken October 3rd, 2023 at Flows to Bay Rain Barrels & Rebate Program

photo of a blue rain barrel connected to a home's downspout

Water Consumption

Saving Water with Rain Barrels

Did you know that you can capture about 312 gallons of water for every half-inch of rain that falls on a 1,000 square foot roof? In 2019, the residents of Atherton used an estimated 464,993,393 gallons of water. 

If every household installed a rain barrel and used the rainwater instead of tap water, we could save about 34 million gallons of water per year! That's about 7% less water than we currently use. 

Sources and factors in the savings calculation:

What You Can Do

Landscaping and Using Water Sustainably in Atherton

Just like we need to switch our vehicles from fossil fuels to electricity, the same is true for our landscaping tools. Learn how you can make an impact by switching to an electric leaf blower today! 

Switch to an electric leaf blower and get $250
Get a rebate to install a rain barrel
Prevent water pollution
Check in on programs offered by our local water agency
a person holding an electric leaf blower