By April Short

As the New Year unfolds, a movement toward the conservation of natural resources advances into national awareness.

But for many Santa Cruz residents and various local venues, these eco-friendly policies aren’t quite as innovative as many suggested by the Green Movement of 2007. They’re merely a continuation of the lifestyle many residents have long since vowed to lead.

Santa Cruz’s city ordinances and requirements already encourage local shops to partake in environmentally sound policies, like recycling and conserving energy.

However, city officials insist they will now work even harder to instill environmentally sound practices throughout the community. City authorities have hired a climate change coordinator, Ross Clark, who intends to reduce energy consumption in Santa Cruz by 30 percent within the next 12 years.

For some Santa Cruz residents, this environmental shift comes as nothing new.

Mike Mekis, of Andy’s Auto Supply on Pacific Avenue, said he has been practicing “green” policies for years. “I only use half of the electricity working, as you can see if you look at the ceiling — half of the lights are turned off,” he said. “And our heater is only on for four to five months a year, which means everything is turned off for about seven months.”

As far as recycling, Mekis said, “We recycle everything from cardboard to plastic and aluminum, and from drink cups to cylinder heads. For a while we even sold recycled oil, but for some reason it didn’t take off with the customers. People just weren’t interested.”

Mekis continued, “I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve seen the city grow into a full cross of people. There are those who are concerned with the environment and those who could care less.”

The conservation efforts of Pacific Avenue’s Cold Stone Creamery made national waves at the end of last year. According to store clerk Karla Rodriguez, manager Rafik Abelian insisted that the chain store use recyclable paper cups in place of the plastic foam variety. He went on to convince the corporate branch to enforce the use of paper in Cold Stone Creameries nationwide.

Theresa Gellis of Union Grove Music said the New Year has not sparked anything distinctive as far as conservation goes.

“We are already required by the city to be very green, and we try to be as efficient as possible,” she said. “We recycle cardboard, versus throwing it into the trash, the lighting is all energy efficient, and we do not use our heater or hot water heater.”

Gellis went on to share that Union Grove Music also refuses to buy products with non-recyclable packaging from its suppliers. The store has already complained to one manufacturer for using non-biodegradable plastic packaging. “And we recycle our batteries, of course,” she added.

From auto suppliers to music stores, the city’s businesses appear determined to paint the city green.

Many city residents are also taking this project into their own hands, like Jordana Langlois. “My housemates and I are buying new energy-efficient light bulbs. Between all of us, that will add up to 12 bulbs,” Langloise said. “We have also vowed to take shorter hot showers and we recently bought an energy-efficient washing machine with natural detergents. It’s sort of our group effort. I also try to make a point of buying basically organic products and recycling bags and receipts.”

Molly Coben, a UC Santa Cruz student who has lived in Santa Cruz her entire life, encourages an eco-friendly lifestyle. “The current level of eco-consciousness in Santa Cruz is already at a fairly high level compared to the rest of the country, but there is always room for improvement,” she said. “After all, you can never be too green.”