Southern California environment news and trends

James Brennan empowers Southern California with solar energy

Our occasional Q&A with Southern Californians doing green stuff.

With the recent meltdown of Solyndra, the California-based maker of solar panels, solar energy has taken a lashing in the press and public perception. However, the positive push to install solar energy continues. Meet James Brennan of Mar Vista, who co-founded the organization Open Neighborhoods to help bring solar power into Southern Californian homes.   

“When communities have local solar power, they are able to take climate action into their own hands,” Brennan shares. “This can effect rapid change much more quickly than relying on large electric utilities and political leaders to make the necessary changes to our energy sources.”

Recently, we spoke with Brennan about Open Neighborhoods, the importance of solar power, and why we can’t give up on the sun as consumers.


Anna Getty advocates for healthy living in Southern California

Our occasional Q&A on Southern Californians doing green stuff 

Anna Getty promotes a “pure style living,” but she’s not talking about a life of moderation. The mother of two is an environmental advocate, Kundalini Yoga teacher, chef, cookbook author, holistic living educator and co-founder of Pregnancy Awareness Month. Getty, who lives in Hollywood, California, recently spoke with us about her best green tips for a balanced life.

What are your simplest steps to start living a green lifestyle?

First, always carry reusable bags with you whether it is to the grocery store, shoe store, farmer’s market or pharmacy. How great would it be to not contribute to the near trillion plastic bags that are being consumed worldwide each year? has an extensive list of reusable bags. Keep them in your purse, your car, your backpacks, everywhere.


Lynda Hernandez harvests for the hungry in Orange County

Our occasional Q&A on Southern Californians doing green stuff 

Southern California is flush with backyard fruit trees offering up juicy bits to anyone who can reach them. After all, isn’t part of the fun of living in the land of sunshine the fact that we get to grow oranges, figs, and lemons in our backyard? But sometimes the fruit from these trees hang unpicked, eventually ripening into the ground uneaten.

Luckily, one intrepid picker from Orange County is determined to change that. Lynda Aurelius Hernandez is a single mother from Huntington Beach who co-founded The Harvest Club with friend Jeff Lebow. Hernandez, alongside her group, works through the abundant area backyard trees of the greater Huntington Beach area for owners who can’t or won’t pick the fruits themselves. Then she donates the fresh food to local soup kitchens or food banks such as the Someone Cares Kitchen and the Rodgers Senior Center.  


Chris Birchby makes sun care a little safer for Southern California

Our occasional Q&A on Southern Californians doing green stuff 

We are lucky enough to live in a land where the sun makes frequent appearances in our day-to-day life. After all, sunlight contains the all-essential Vitamin D, which our bodies use to promote bone growth and immune function. But there’s a fine line between healthy and dangerous amounts of sun, which can lead to melanoma and more.

Meet Chris Birchby, who alongside wife Kristian founded COOLA organic sun care in 2002. The Birchbys, longtime residents of L.A., now run the company from their home in northern San Diego County. Inspired by melanoma scares on both sides of their families, they offer a safer sun care solution to those wanting to avoid the excessive chemicals in traditional sun care products. 

Recently, we spoke with Birchby about COOLA and community outreach.


Want a green beauty guru in Los Angeles? Meet Melissa Tornay

Our occasional Q&A with Southern Californians doing green stuff 

 The average person uses multiple beauty products a day. However, the average person may not realize that each product can come with a helping of chemicals to disrupt hormones, enable cancer and more. Nonetheless, you’d be hard pressed to find an Angeleno willing to give up his or her products without a fight. So what’s a health-conscious greenie to do?

Luckily, there are several great beauty salons in our fair city dedicated to spreading the green word. Among them is Primrose Organics Salon & Boutique, which sits on a hip stretch of Hollywood Boulevard offering up eco-friendly cosmetics and beauty services.

Primrose Organics is co-owned by Melissa Tornay of Silver Lake, who runs the business with partner Felicia Howe. Recently, Tornay shared her take on the green beauty market.