Sustainability Background

Sustain – to maintain; to keep in existence; to nourish; to provide with necessity and support.

Sustainability in broad terms is the ability to maintain balance of a certain process or state in any system. It is now most frequently used in connection with biological and human systems and can be defined as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Examples of sustainability in Catalina’s land and sea ecosystems:

  • Plants and animals have developed adaptations that help them conserve water, enabling them to withstand months of drought.
  • Decomposers eat waste materials, providing energy for themselves and making nutrients continually available to the community
  • Plants and algae harvest renewable solar energy, turning sunlight into food for themselves and the community
  • Interdependent relationships can be found in every island ecosystem. Balancing competition with cooperation, organisms depend on one another, creating a complex, self-supporting web.

Examples of sustainability in human communities:

  • Utilizing renewable resources for energy, food, building materials, and clothing.
    • Renewable resources are those that are regenerated at a rate equal or faster than they are used (examples: many plants, solar energy).
    • Non-renewable resources are those being harvested and used at a rate faster than they can regenerate (examples: fossil fuels like gas and oil, many species of marine life).
  • Re-use and recycling of every-day materials; from re-usable shopping bags, to backyard composting, to electronics with all recyclable parts.
  • Energy efficiency; from compact fluorescent bulbs, to efficient appliances, to fuel-efficient cars.
  • Water conservation; from low-flow faucets, to drought-tolerant landscaping, to taking shorter showers.
  • Eating locally grown food; it is generally more fresh and nutritious, it supports local economies, and it didn’t require as many fossil fuels to get it to you.


What sustains us at camp?

Where we get our water

Have you ever considered the source of the water that comes out of your tap? Here at camp, rain water collects in our canyon floor and percolates into the ground. Ground water is pumped from our well up to the water tank on the canyon ridge. Gravity then feeds water into camp were we use it for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and watering. During years of low rainfall, we run the risk of saltwater intrusion. When too much fresh water is pumped from our well, ocean water is sucked landward, potentially leading to the long-term contamination of our groundwater. Glass of saltwater, anyone?

Read this article to follow the path of a drop of water to Los Angeles County.

Where we get our energy

Located in Avalon, a diesel generator sends electricity through miles of power lines to the West End of Catalina Island and into Howlands Landing.

While this provides the majority of our power, there are many examples of sustainable energy demonstrated throughout camp, including a photovoltaic system, a solar water-heating system, a wind generator, and an assortment of solar ovens.

Where we get our food

The Garden Project located in Howlands Landing is designed as a demonstration garden and does not provide produce to our kitchen.  Our food is delivered in bulk via barge to Avalon, then driven across the island by truck. The carbon footprint from our food is challenging to offset, but we have found some solutions to lessen this impact. Incorporating organic produce into our meals, providing one vegetarian meal a day, and composting our food waste help to reduce the ecological footprint of our food.


Back to Top

Back to Sustainability

Search CELP