Southern California environment news and trends

San Francisco tops list of US cities with most eco-friendly services

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Daniel Romero plants flats of plants on the living roof of the new California Academy of Sciences building in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California.

San Francisco has long been a pioneer in urban environmentalism, including being the first American city to ban single-use plastic bags. A new survey finds that the city by the Bay is the country’s most environmentally friendly location — literally.

As reported by Treehugger, website rated America’s largest cities in terms of the “highest per-capita prevalence of eco-friendly services,” ranging from green architects to housecleaners who only use biodegradable, non-chemical cleaning agents. When the dust cleared, the top three spots were all in the Bay area: San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose.

“These rankings match up well with other city rankings for sustainability. Nine of the top ten cities on our list are also cited by the National Resources Defense Council as examples of smarter cities,” said the report, which is not without a sense of humor.


San Francisco sets sights on plastic water bottle reduction

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klearchos/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Bottled water

In 2007, San Francisco made history as the first American city to ban single-use plastic bags. Now, city officials are investigating ways to reduce plastic water bottles.

According to the Associated Press, one of the proposals being considered is an ordinance requiring new and renovated buildings with water fountains to also install bottle-filling taps to encourage reusable containers instead of plastic bottles. The upgrades to existing water fountains would run about $750.

“This is the appropriate next step to make it easier for San Franciscans to get out of the bad habit of using environmentally wasteful plastic water bottles and into the good habit of using reusable water containers,” said David Chiu, the Board of Supervisors President who's behind the bill. He offers it up as a best-case scenario as compared to more extreme measures, like a plastic bottle tax or outright ban, akin to the plastic bag. Ultimately, Chiu says the move is meant to emphasis the quality of San Francisco tap water.


Apple reinstates green certification after public outcry

A view of the main entrance to Apple Inc.

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A view of the main entrance to Apple Inc. in Cupertino, California on March 11, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Ryan Anson/AFP/Getty Images

Sometimes, the people really do have the power.

It was just two days ago when we reported that computer company Apple had yanked 39 products from EPEAT, a government regulated global registry of environmentally friendlier products that Apple helped establish.

Fallout from the move was swift, with a public outcry that included Greenpeace and the city of San Francisco, which announced it would no longer purchase Apple products due to the voluntary decertification.

As reported by Yahoo News, the backlash was loud enough that Apple has done an about-face, announcing today that as many products as possible would be returned to the EPEAT registry.

“We’ve recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT,” said Bob Mansfield, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering in a public statement.


Apple drops green standard, loses business in San Francisco

Courtesy of Apple

Apple's newest MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

In a somewhat surprising move, digital giant Apple last week pulled 39 of the company’s desktop computers, laptops and monitors from EPEAT, a global registry of environmentally-friendlier products regulated by the government and in part created by Apple.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, EPEAT is federally funded by the EPA and a group of manufacturers, and “awards products a seal to certify they are recyclable and designed to maximize energy efficiency and minimize environmental harm.”

“They said their design direction was no longer consistent with the EPEAT requirements,” said Rob Frisbee, CEO of EPEAT to the Journal. “They were important supporters and we are disappointed that they don’t want their products measured by this standard anymore.”

The move comes close on the recent announcement of Apple’s most recent MacBook Pro with retina display, which comes with the battery pack glued to the machine among other features that make the model extremely difficult to repair.


WalkScore rates the most bike-friendly cities in America

Photo by Gary Rides Bikes via Flickr Creative Commons

Santa Monica is a bicycle-friendly town.

In case you missed it, today (May 17) is Bike to Work Day in Los Angeles (the day is celebrated nationally tomorrow by the League of American Bicyclists). In recognition of the day, L.A. County MTA is offering free rides on trains and busses to riders with their bikes and/or bike helmets.

With May being National Bike Month and all, website Walkscore has upgraded their services to include "Bike Score," rankings of the 10 most bike-friendly cities in America and Canada.

A review of the ranked American cities finds that only San Francisco made the top 10 to represent California, coming in a very respectable third in the rankings.

As reported by Treehugger, scores were “based on the availability of bike infrastructure (lanes and trails), the hilliness of the area, destinations and road connectivity, and the number of bike commuters.”