Southern California environment news and trends

NBA tips off Green Week 2012

Los Angeles Clippers v Los Angeles Lakers

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The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers have a game scheduled at Staples Center during NBA Green Week.

The National Basketball Association and new presenting partner Sprint kicked off NBA Green Week 2012 today with Commissioner David Stern hosting a cell phone recycling event in New York.

It’s the latest initiative in the NBA’s ongoing push for sustainable lifestyle changes. As we reported back in February, the Association presented a big recycling program in Orlando around this year’s All-Star Game. For Green Week, the Natural Resources Defense Council comes aboard to assist with a series of new promotions going nationwide as well as online.

Among the rollout is new Facebook application “Unlimited Acts of Green,” which checklists a series of simple ways users can make more environmentally positive decisions in everyday life. For their part, Sprint is ramping up the company's efforts to promote cell phone recycling online and with live events in three cities, including Los Angeles.

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Starbucks opens drive-through made of recycled shipping containers near Seattle

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Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

Shipping containers have long been a hot topic in eco-circles. With more of them collecting dust across America than many realize, finding myriad ways to recycle the hulking shells abound. Given their size, re-imagining these containers as homes and shelters have been especially popular. The SEED Project at Clemson University was inspired to utilize them as emergency housing in case of devastating incidents such as Hurricane Katrina.

Shipping containers have also become popular as quick and easy pop-up businesses (officially known as “cargotecture”), and Starbucks has jumped on the trend by opening a drive-through store from recycled shipping units in Tukwila, WA, not far from Seattle. Constructed from four cargo containers stacked two high, the location does not have any indoor seating.

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Can music festivals like Coachella really offset the environmental impact?

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Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Musician Zach Ernst of Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears performs during the first day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2011 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2011 in Indio.

With music fans alight over the announcement of the 2012 Coachella line-up, more environmentally conscious concertgoers are still waiting to hear about this year’s sustainable efforts. Granted, it’s not all philanthropic — Coachella promoters Goldenvoice have traditionally made it worth the effort.

The “Carpoolchella” contest has happening every year since 2007. It encourages fans to carpool for the trek to the desert in decorated vehicles. Carpoolers in the winning vehicle (selected by event organizers) win tickets to the festival for life. The 10 For 1 Bottle Exchange is an ingenious way of keeping the polo fields free from empty plastic bottles, and fans hydrated.

Working with non-profit Global Inheritance, for the “TRASHed: Art of Recycling” project, where local artists are commissioned to decorate recycling bins that make up an interactive art-walk on the festival grounds.

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Christmas tree recycling alternative: Inland Empire fish habitats

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We’ve already covered the basics of Christmas tree recycling in the greater Los Angeles area. But for those with an affinity for marine life will be interested in what Riverside County Waste Management and California’s Department of Fish and Game are working on.

To keep tree from ending up in even more landfills, they’re using them to create natural protective habitats in area lakes to protect certain fish from larger, more predatory species. Trees taken to the Lamb Canyon and Badlands landfills will be used specifically to the Department of Fish and Game for this marine-based program.

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How to: recycle your Christmas tree

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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!

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