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The California drought is entering its 4th year and it is not looking good. If you didn’t change your shower heads last year then it is time to do it now. You should be using a 1.75, 1.5 GPM or less and limiting your shower time to 8-10 min. If you can do it in less time then you will save even more water!

So what about your landscaping? There are many ways to do this. When you turn on your shower first thing you get is cold water. Put a bucket in your shower and catch all of this cold water and then you can use this for watering plants.

You can also look at a reclaimed water system for your used laundry water. This water does not need to be treated before you can water your plants with it. You will also want to check what kind of laundry soap you are using so it will be ok for your plants. (Sulfate Free soap).

Learn about Gray water systems at greywateraction.org and at oasisdesign.net

Read more current news about the California drought in this article from NBC News.

Green tips from Inn Marin in Novato

Robert Marshall, the Green Guru of Inn Marin

In spring of 2012, the Big Blend Media team of Nancy Reid and Lisa Smith embarked on their Big Blend Spirit of America Tour, beginning their visits to all 401 National Parks and their Gateway Communities. Traveling full-time until Aug. 25, 2017, the tour is their effort to promote the full funding and protection of America’s 401 National Park units, and showcase them as economically important recreational, educational, natural, and heritage destinations.

As part of their tour they visited, Muir Woods, Pt. Reyes, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, all located in Marin County, and they stayed at the Inn Marin! They were so excited about how environmentally friendly the Inn Marin is that they created this video featuring our Green Guru, Robert Marshall.



Last month I talked about conserving water with your irrigation system using ET Water Hermit crab controllers, and this month I’ve been thinking about how else you can save water. I looked into reclaimed water systems you can build to use water a second time- to water your garden or flush your toilets!

I found two great YouTube videos to get you started on your reclaimed water system. The first one will show you how you can build a system for capturing shower or sink water and using it to flush toilets.

The second video shows how to build your own rain capture system from your down spouts on the outside of your house. You can build your rain water system as large as you want just by attaching more barrels.

Good luck and save water!

Green tips from Inn Marin in Novato

Robert Marshall, the Green Guru of Inn Marin

green hotel lodging in marinThe State of California Green Lodging program was created under Governor Schwarzenegger to encourage state and local government travelers to seek out and give preference to certified “green hotels”.  The state has made green hotels a priority because hotels generate tremendous amounts of waste. Encouraging hotels to switch to environmentally preferable products and practices creates tremendous savings of our precious resources which benefits all of the citizens of CA.

The California Green Lodging Program certifies lodging facilities that demonstrate water and energy conservation, waste minimization, recycling, environmentally friendly purchasing, program sustainability, and pollution prevention. The program is committed to demonstrating the highest standards of integrity and environmental ethics for the State of California. The process of becoming certified involves a rigorous inspection. Hotels are inspected for re-certification once every three years.

The Inn Marin has recently been re-certified at the highest level “Environmentalist”!!

Drought! It sure feels like it. We are well into our second week of January and it has not rained since early October or November. It’s been so long I can’t remember. These warm days in the 60’s are great but they are drying up gardens and watering is neccesary. My suggestion is to hand water your plants and nothing else. You may have winterized your irrigation system and may not want to open that up, and hand watering will fix this solution. If you do open your system, make sure not to water late at night because the early morning freeze might damage your irrigation system.

It’s time to look at state of the art conservation systems like ET Water, a company who has combined technology with irrigation to create the perfect system to manage your water usage and have the best landscaping. We saved 207,837 gallons over a 63 day period, from 9/16/13 to 11/18/13.  It’s is time for you to do the same!

Freeze the age old question “do you water when it freezes?” YES, you do! It is better for the plants to have a higher water content- it will actually prevent them from freezing. Cover your citrus to protect it from the morning frost but do remove the cover during the day. If not removed, the cover could damage the plant if you’re using plastic. The plastic magnifies the sun, taking the plant from one extreme to the next.

Read more about the California drought in the Sacramento Bee and on NBC News.

Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin

Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin


As your GREEN GURU in Marin, I have listed some green alternatives for the holiday season.

holiday tips from the green guru of Inn Marin NovatoWith Christmas just weeks away, it’s time to think about replacing those old Christmas lights with the new LED lights. It pays to switch to LED!

I’ve created a small list of green Ideas for the holiday season and some links to Christmas tree farms in the Bay Area where you can cut fresh trees. You might think this is not sustainable, but local Christmas tree farms plant new trees every year to replace the tree you have cut down. This is much better than buying pre-cut trees that have traveled 400 miles via truck, burning fossil fuels.

Enjoy the holidays and the ideas!

  • Buy handmade and locally made items with less packaging such as sweaters, stuffed toys, wooden toys, puzzles and furniture.
  • Consider gifts of time such as volunteering or gift certificates for favors. (Make your own gift certificates that give someone a free hour of babysitting, a free lawn mowing, house cleaning etc.)
  • Bake something for someone. Think of someone who might enjoy a batch of homemade cookies or a pie.
  • Frame a piece of art created by a child. Some relatives would love receiving something like this.
  • Create a homemade photo album full of favorite family photos.
  • Decorate, personalize, and paint an old box and use it for a jewelry box or knick-knacks. This is another fun craft children love to help create.
  • Decoupage someone’s favorite photo onto a container or box so that they will be able to see it every day.
  • Organize a carol singing party and sing along with friends and family. I take my Cub Scout Pack to an Affordable senior housing and we sing Christmas carols and give them handmade Christmas tree ornaments. It brings a wonderful smile to all their faces.

Cut your own tree Web sites:

Frosty Mountain tree Farm in Sebastopol.

Liberty Christmas Tree Farm in Petaluma.

Moon Mountain Christmas Tree Farm in Sonoma.

holiday tips from the green guru of inn marin novato

Robert Marshall, the Green Guru of Inn Marin

ev rental car in the bay areaWalking through the parking lot at Inn Marin I noticed a Ford Fusion plugged into the EV car charging station we have here. So you say, “what is special about that?” Well, it was an Enterprise Rental car. Wow! I had no idea that you could rent a plug-in-car from a major car rental agency.

In searching the internet, I found there are a few places from which you can rent an EV vehicle: Orlando Fl, Northampton Ma and yes, California! To see all the places in San Francisco you can pick up your EV Rental car, check this article from Extreme Tech. This is really COOL!!

~Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin

Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin

Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin


green hotel in Marin

As part of our green lodging program, the Inn Marin has proudly been using botanically based, Vaska green products in our hotel laundry systems and to clean our guestrooms since 2008. We chose Vaska products because they eliminate poisonous chemicals that are damaging to your health, our employees health, and the environment.

Vaska’s botanical extract formulations use all natural cleaning agents to protect fabrics, skin, surfaces, the environment, laundry employees and equipment, all at the same time. Plant-based surfactants protect groundwater. Linens are soft and clean naturally, without chemical residue to cause stiffness. Surfaces cleaned with Vaska’s all-purpose cleaners are disinfected naturally with botanical ingredients.

Vaska is based in Berkeley, CA and in addition to it’s commercial line of cleaning products you can now purchase Vaska laundry products for your home use! For more information about Vaska products visit their website, vaskahome.com


green lodging in Novato

Kris Hillard, Green Guru guest author

Novato has started on the journey of eliminating Polystyrene containers (EPS) from our Marin community.Plastic bags and polystyrene (Styrofoam) food ware are two of the most common pollutants plaguing the San Francisco Bay. Novato has started on the journey of eliminating Polystyrene containers (EPS) from our community. Yes, the city has passed an ordinance outlawing the use of Polystyrene containers, cups, plates and clamshell containers for both on site and off site food service providers starting January 1, 2014!

Other cities who have already banned (EPS) are Berkeley (1990), Fairfax (1993), San Francisco (2006), Sausalito (2008), Mill Valley (2009) West Marin (2010), Freemont (2011) and San Mateo (2013).

I am very happy that they have started this journey but I believe they need to do more and prohibit businesses from selling these products in retail stores, or at least give a date in the future when these Items will no longer be available to be sold in retail stores.

Check out this website for Bay Area information: savesfbay.org/bagbans

~Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin

Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin

Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin

LED lights at green hotel, Inn Marin in NovatoThe tide is turning.

Incandescent and even fluorescent lights are becoming a thing of the past. I have used the same Par 38 flood light in my public space for the last 7 years. It is a warm inviting light that is dimmable and really creates a wonderful atmosphere. I called my supplier to order some replacement bulbs and he said NO they are no longer making them and they have none in stock. He suggested a new LED dimmable light that is 3000k (this means warm light) so I tried it out. WOW, I was surprised how much it looks like an incandescent light!

So it is time to start thinking and changing to LED and what a cost savings. My par 38 was 65 Watts, now the new LED is only 13 Watts. There all different kinds of LED lights out there so check them out and save more energy.
According to this article in the Wall Street Journal all light bulbs will be mandated to be LEDs by the year 2020.

Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin

Robert Marshall, Green Guru of Inn Marin

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