Southern California environment news and trends

California updates environmental curriculum over plastic bag chapter

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evelynishere/Flickr CC

A pile of plastic bags await recycling.

The current war being waged regarding single-use plastic bags goes beyond just how customers tote their wares out of restaurants and retail stores. It was discovered last year that the American Chemical Council had successfully lobbied California school officials to include positive messages about such plastic bags in the state’s environmental curriculum.

As reported by California Watch, the California Environmental Protection Agency has been allowed to rewrite the curriculum, which no longer includes a section entitled “The Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags” and has been updated with current recycling statistics.

"Our concern always with the curriculum was to ensure integrity and accuracy," explained Bryan Ehlers, the California EPA’s assistant secretary for education and quality programs to California Watch. "We went back and looked at the whole unit and really picked through it with a fine-tooth comb."


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,”


Sustainable buzz: Reusing coffee grounds and tea leaves

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Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Freshly-roasted espresso coffee beans cool in a refurbished 1918 Probat coffee bean roaster.

For many of us, caffeine is a managed addiction. It could be that routine trip to a local teahouse for a particular blend, or a certain bean that makes the perfect cup every time. Regardless of your degree of coffee/tea snobbery (or lack thereof), the countless masses sifting though the stuff on a daily basis adds up to a lot of used grinds and leaves. For the more sustainability-conscious consumer, the inevitable question arises: What can I do with it? According to Treehugger, the answer is quite a lot.

The piece goes on to detail no less than 20 uses for both used coffee grounds and tea leaves, many of which of are unexpected, to say the least. While things like adding coffee grounds to soil for plants that crave acids (like roses and evergreens) might be common knowledge among gardeners, coffee grounds can also be used to deter ants and when mixed with orange peel, have the same effect on cats. They’re also good for cleaning fireplaces, as the damp grounds weigh down the ash and helps reduce dust.


Target giving away 1.5 million reusable bags for Earth Day

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Mr. T in DC/Flickr

Target is more than just one of America’s largest retailers. As far back as when the Minnesota-based company was known as Dayton-Hudson, the retailer has made a point to celebrate Earth Day. Back in the early ‘70s, stores handed out little trees to shoppers to mark the day. In 1992, celebrities like Leonard Nimoy, Bobby Kennedy Jr. and Olivia Newton-John took part in a Los Angeles “Earth Walk” with Target team members.

This year, Target stores will commemorate Earth Day by handing out 1.5 million reusable (and very stylish) shopping bags. Target will also continue to provide customers with a 5-cent discount for every reusable bag per transaction.

"Earth Day is the perfect time to remind guests that a small change can make a big difference in reducing waste, saving money and driving sustainable choices in their community," said Shawn Gensch, Target’s senior vice president of marketing in a press release. "At Target, we are pleased to do our part by making these choices easier for our guests."


BevMo! to launch cork recycling program on Earth Day

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John Rabe

As Earth Day 2012 rapidly approaches, the proliferation of people, places and things turning up the green is almost overwhelming. Throughout the week, we’ll be wading though the myriad of eco-friendly actions to mark the arrival of Sunday, April 22.

For major beverage retail chain BevMo!, this Earth Day marks the start of a new cork-recycling program at all 115 of their locations throughout California and Arizona. And for the literal kicker: through a partnership with ReCORK and shoe manufacturer SOLE’s sponsorship, the recycled cork will be converted into a line of flip-flops.

"As something that's renewable, biodegradable and recyclable, natural cork is a fitting symbol with which to recognize Earth Day," said Alan Johnson, BevMo!'s chief executive officer in a press release. "We are excited about our partnership with ReCORK and pleased to make a contribution to the environment by providing our customers with an easy way to recycle their corks and thereby give used corks a second life."