Southern California environment news and trends

New agreement reduces toxic chemicals in California

Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Marc Epstein/Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited

There’s no news like good news, and this definitely qualifies as good news. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the EPA have gotten together to sign an agreement calling for “safer alternatives to toxic chemicals in everyday products”, something we can all feel good about.

The agreement also covers creating new job and business opportunities as a result of these alternative measures.

“This is a major step in protecting Californians from unnecessary chemicals in everyday consumer products,” DTSC’s Director Debbie Raphael said via press release. “The innovative spirit of this partnership also signals that government agencies can pool resources in a challenging fiscal environment to better serve the public.”

We’re getting it bad enough from the greenhouse gasses – it would be nice to see some relief in the form of less scary stuff in our reusable cups or whatever…

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Patagonia is California’s first benefit corporation

Outdoor clothing company Patagonia (based in Ventura, CA) has always been one of the pioneers of environmentally conscious business practices. Spearheading a litany of Earth-preserving causes, Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard was the first in line on Tuesday to register his company to be a “benefit corporation” in California.

California is the seventh state to adopt this new status, which commits companies to make “a material positive impact on society or the environment.” The law allows businesses to put green initiatives ahead of shareholders’ interests. Without the designation, stockholders can sue a company for putting anything ahead of growing their stock worth.

"There is a way to create jobs and grow the economy while raising the bar for social and environmental responsibility," said Assemblyman Jared Huffman (who wrote the proposition) at a news conference this week. "With this new law, we are attracting new socially conscious companies, investors and consumers."

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San Jose among '10 Sustainable Cities To Watch'

Everyone loves a list. Ranking, rating, arranging – there’s something about putting things in a neat, numerical sequence to bring a little sense of order to the world.

The start of a new year is always a great time to make lists. Having already categorized the year that was, now is when we start looking forward and making predictions of what is yet to come. Which is why I was excited to peruse environmental blog Triple Pundits list of the 10 Sustainable Cities to Watch in 2012.

It’s an exotic list that spans the globe, including Doha, Qatar, and Accra, Ghana. It’s so much so that only two American cities make the list: my beloved Detroit, MI and our very own neighbors in San Jose, CA. Focusing on the city’s light rail system and robust Green Vision Goals, they term San Jose “one of the greenest, cleanest and safest cities in the USA.” (The blog also a point to call L.A.’s sustainability a miserable failure). 

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When Big Companies Do Good Things: Costa Mesa Ikea store installs EV charging station

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It’s a love/hate relationship many of us have with Ikea. Sure, they have functional furniture and home accessories for reasonable prices, and a surprisingly delicious food court. But it’s hard not to hate on their oft-remote locations, not to mention the infinite patience required to assemble “that damn night stand”.

The fines Swedes behind Ikea are well aware of it all. Which is why they’re going to such great lengths to offset the sizable carbon footprint their stores can create. After already doing so in Portland, OR and California cities San Diego and Carson, Ikea has upgraded their Costa Mesa location as the fourth in America to boost an EV charging station. While there is no timetable or locations yet determined, Ikea plans on upgrading another five of their stores in the western U.S. with EV stations.

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