Southern California environment news and trends

5 things worth seeing at this year's Green Festival in downtown LA

Avais Dinga/Courtesy of OrganicWorks PR

This weekend's Green Festival in downtown Los Angeles will bring over 300 vendors, over 100 speakers and a variety of other events to the Los Angeles Convention Center.  It runs from Saturday at 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Sunday. 

Organizers expect over 30,000 attendees, over 8,000 more than last year. Regional Director Laurie Kaufman tells KPCC the event is aimed at those who are green conscious (and "green-curious") from all political backgrounds. “[It's] fun, it's smart, it tastes good and it's a way to broaden your community,” she said. 

So what should you be mindful of at this year's gathering of the planetary and ecologically conscious? A few highlights:

1. Eco-celebs

“Hollywood’s positive impact is also integral to this movement,” said Erin Brunner by email. Brunner is a senior account executive at Organicworks PR, handling public relations for the Green Festivals nationally. “The celebrity element is also much higher here – we have an all-star lineup in each of the cities, but the LA Festival draws big names of celebrities inspired by the environment.”

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Toyota, Johnson & Johnson top world’s greenest brands list

Global brand consultancy firm Interbrand has just released the second annual Best Global Green Brands report, ranking the companies with the most environmentally based missions and accomplishments over the past 12 months. This year’s list finds Toyota at number one (the automaker also topped last year's list), with Johnson & Johnson, Honda, Volkswagen and Hewlett-Packard rounding out the top five. Danone (#9), Ford (#15), Starbucks (#36) and UPS (#43) were the brands that saw the biggest jumps up the chart from last year's list.

The brands are ranked based on two criteria: Performance (“organizations must demonstrate that they source, produce, and distribute products and services in an environmentally responsible manner”) and perception (“organizations must work to build value amongst key audiences by credibly conveying the benefits of their environmental practices”).

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Hard sell: NASCAR teams with EPA to spread green message

Pioneer Hi-Bred 250

Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR

NEWTON, IA - MAY 20: Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, races during the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 20, 2012 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

When thoughts turn to the high-octane excitement of NASCAR racing, there isn’t much space left for anything remotely eco-friendly. Given than the cars burn through 450,000 gallons of gas a year and get on average a mere five miles to the gallon, car racing is about as far from green as a sport can be.

Still, as reported by Triple Pundit, NASCAR and the Environmental Protection Agency are coming together in an attempt to spread a more environmentally friendly message to the masses of Americans who are dedicated fans of the sport.

The five-page “Memorandum of Understanding” between the unlikely partners spells out the myriad of ways they can “facilitate transfer of useful environmental information to a large fan base via the well-developed communications network managed by NASCAR.”

“Because NASCAR is followed by millions of passionate fans and many businesses, it can be a powerful platform to raise environmental awareness, drive the adoption of safer products by more Americans, and support the growing green economy,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention in the Washington Examiner.

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Celebrating sustainable California wines

Mercer 7439

John Rabe

California has long been recognized for producing some of the finest wines in the world. Now there’s a new campaign that shines a spotlight on the wealth of sustainable winemaking practices throughout the state.

A host of winemakers and growers have come together for "California Wines: Down to Earth,” a month-long and statewide event that will include eco-focused vineyard tours and wine tastings, “green wine trails,” hands-on workshops and wine and food festivals to celebrate Earth Day, which falls on Sunday, April 22 this year.

"These experiences make April a great time to learn about our California wines and the environmentally and community-friendly practices used to grow and produce them," said Robert P. Koch, president and CEO of Wine Institute (who created the campaign) in a press release. "More than two-thirds of California's wine-grape growers and winemakers have adopted our sustainable program and participation is increasing, making ours one of the most widely adopted in the wine world."

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Vive l'environnement! The plan to turn the Eiffel Tower green

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There are few monuments in the world as recognizable or popular as Paris’ Eiffel Tower.

French urban planning consultancy Ginger wants to capitalize on that notoriety to make a really, really big environmental statement. The plans, leaked to the public by France’s Le Figaro newspaper, detail how to cover the Tower with upwards of 600,000 plants in soil-filled hemp sacks and an ambitious irrigation system to create the world’s largest vertical garden.  

While the cost of the project clocks in at a cool $97 million, the upside is just as great: the wall of vegetation would remove an estimated 87.8 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, making it a “green lung” for the city.

“Our objective is to enhance the structure, not ruin it.” Ginger said in a statement. “We want to turn an emblem of the industrial past into a beacon of the sustainable future… "Should it not be the duty of engineers to imagine a new future where nature is brought back into the heart of the city?”

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