Southern California environment news and trends

How to: recycle your Christmas tree


As hard as it is to believe, the holiday chaos of 2011 is over. After bearing witness to everything from Black Friday pepper-spray attacks to Air Jordan riots, it won’t be a very emotional goodbye.

Now is when we have to deal with the grim post-holiday realities: going back to work/school, reconciling weight gained from all of those Christmas cookies and of course, what to do with that big, glorious tree still perched in the center of the living room.

Thankfully, Southern California has made it easy for residents to dispose of that Douglas Fir responsibly, which means recycling.

Break out a handsaw and cut that sucker down to size and toss the pieces in the convenient green recycling bins around the city. You can even just leave the tree next to the bin, and it will be hauled away by the sanitation department. Just remember to remove all ornaments and decorations!


Reusable couture: show us your totes!


Bags, bags, bags. Here in Los Angeles, bags are kind of a big deal. But you know that already, given the ongoing controversy around a proposed bag ban that continues to torment LA City council.

Regardless of where you might stand on the issue, I’d like to think that we could all agree on the necessity of reusable shopping bags. Everybody needs at least one, but having a few at your disposal is never really a bad thing (just don’t go all hoarder on us or anything).

Given that we are in the very profile-conscious confines of Los Angeles, your reusable shopping is an absolute fashion statement. While it’s easy to just grab a generic number from your preferred grocer, what’s the fun in that? There are so many fashionable and even cool tote bags floating around out – find the one that compliments your grocery store wardrobe.


Mmm, biosolids: Terminal Island Renewable Energy looking to re-up for a few more seasons


Hyperion Treatment Plant processes our biofluids. For the last 5 years, LA's been shooting them into the ground.

This is always the sort of topic that makes me want to talk like Homer Simpson. When you treat sewage and spit the water out one side, a spongy, sterilized byproduct comes out the other. That's "biosolids," and for the last 5 years, LA has been testing a new way to deal with them...a way that is, in fact, "the nation’s first full scale application of deep well injection technology." Explaining what that means is complicated but cool. 

All of the crap we send into sewers produces 1 million pounds of biosolids in southern California. The City of Los Angeles and specifically its Hyperion Treatment Plant can raise its hand and take credit for a quarter of that..."pathogen free, exceptional quality, Grade A biosolids." Some of those biosolids get composted in Griffith Park. And for 11 years much of those high-quality biosolids have been trucked to a field in Kern County and spread over non-food farmland. They serve as fertilizer for Green Acres Farm, a 4-thousand acre property near Bakersfield that LA bought specifically so that it could have land on which to spread solid waste. LA farms alfalfa and other feedstock grains that the city sells locally in Kern County.


Los Angeles City Council may move on a bag ban


So, a side effect of a really long feed-in tariff hearing at the Energy and Environment committee at LA city hall was that it delayed action on a possible disposable bag ban in Los Angeles.

Californians Against Waste says 16 cities and counties have banned plastic disposable bags. Los Angeles County banned ‘em in unincorporated areas; Long Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach and Calabasas have banned ‘em too. (Bag bans are cousins to polystyrene bans, which are about 3 times more popular. That’s a different story.) Santa Monica based Heal the Bay lobbied hard, pulling out all the stops for a statewide plastic bag ban, and got stymied. An El Lay ban would be a big victory for environmentalists.

Back in October, LA’s Board of Public Works reported to city council on a long-considered ban on single-use carryout bags. (You might recall that other cities, particularly beach ones, have gotten all up on this already.) BPW recommended that the city announce support for a ban, that the city attorney start writing up an ordinance, and that the city hire people to get a ban going in LA.