Southern California environment news and trends

Pocahontas and Pig Iron: An L.A. actor connects to Brazilian forestry problems

Marizilda Cruppe

Pocahontas is on the right.

The two categories of actors who ally themselves with eco-matters are not “the ones who are earnest” and “the ones who aren’t.” Green carpet or blue carpet, red carpet or no carpet, they pretty much all mean it--at least the ones I talk to--when it comes to the ocean or climate change or energy efficiency. The dividing line is really “the ones who are serious” and “the ones who needed a socially-valid hobby.”

Apparently Q'orianka Kilcher is of the serious type. She’s a 22-year-old actress, based in LA. She’s all over issues raised by GlobalGreen, Oceana and even the L.A.-centric Liberty Hill Foundation. Her own foundation aims to put video cameras in the hands of people who can document environmental harms in hard to reach places. This week she climbed up an anchor chain in Brazil as part of a protest that’s now extended a week, over the export of pig iron to U.S. companies. Iron ore gets turned into pig iron with incredibly high temperatures created by burning wood. In Brazil, charcoaled wood comes from rainforests. Greenpeace has brought in people to sit, essentially, on the anchor, to point out that this is still happening.


Ford Motor Co. works on recycling cash into car parts

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Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Due in large part to skyrocketing petroleum prices, Ford Motor Co. has made finding sustainable materials to replace plastic a priority. As we reported earlier this year, Ford (in partnership with REPREVE) collected bottles at both the 2012 North American Auto Show in Detroit and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to convert them into car interiors for the new Focus Electric vehicles.

This year also saw Ford turn up their sustainable and recycling efforts with other unorthodox materials, such as denim and soy-based products, being reconstituted into various car parts. Now, according to Inhabitat, Ford is looking to convert piles of old, shredded cash money bills into components for new cars.

“Ford has a long history of developing green technologies because it’s the right thing to do from an environmental perspective,” said John Viera, Ford’s global director of Sustainability and Vehicle Environmental Matters to inhabitat. “The potential to reuse some of the country’s paper currency once it has been taken out of circulation is a great example of the kind of research we are doing,”


When big companies do good things: Ford Motor Co. to convert millions of plastic water bottles into car interiors

Ford Executives Highlight Former Truck Plant Converted To Build The Focus And Focus Electric

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

WAYNE- DECEMBER 14: A 2011 Ford Focus goes through the assembly line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant following a media preview of Ford products and technology at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant December 14, 2010 in Wayne, Michigan. The plant was formerly a truck plant that was converted to build the 2012 Ford Focus and Focus Electric vehicles. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

With the automotive world currently focused on Detroit and the 2012 North American Auto Show, Big Three automaker Ford Motor Company has announced one of the most intriguing new eco-friendly car features ever.

Partnering with REPREVE, who specialize in recycled fabrics, Ford will divert around 2 million plastic water bottles from festering in a landfill to create seat fabric for the new Focus Electric vehicles. It will be the first car able to boast an interior of 100% clean technology.

Ford and REPREVE are currently collecting bottles at both the Detroit Auto Show and in Las Vegas at the Consumers Electronics Show that will be used to make the material (they estimate it will take around 22 bottles to produce each car interior).

They also use the occasion to report the sobering news that in America, only 29% of plastic bottles find their way to being recycled, which is about half the rate in Europe. Awkward!


When big companies do good things: Ford Motor Co. to reduce water usage 30% per vehicle in 3 years

Having already reduced their global water usage by 62% (or 10.5 billion gallons) between 2000 and 2010, Ford announced plans last week to continue that trend by reducing how much water is used per vehicle produced by the year 2015.

“Water remains one of our top environmental priorities," Sue Cischke, group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering said in a statement from Ford, "and our aggressive reduction target helps ensure continued focus on this critical resource.”

While Ford’s press release went on to detail exactly how they plan on making this ambitious plan a reality, we were much more taken with the nifty infographic that puts 10.5 billion gallons of water into a more relatable context. Given the water crisis prevalent in far too many parts of the world, it’s a sobering thought to think that the actions of one corporation can preserve such a tremendous amount of water.