Southern California environment news and trends

5 things worth seeing at this year's Green Festival in downtown LA

Avais Dinga/Courtesy of OrganicWorks PR

This weekend's Green Festival in downtown Los Angeles will bring over 300 vendors, over 100 speakers and a variety of other events to the Los Angeles Convention Center.  It runs from Saturday at 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Sunday. 

Organizers expect over 30,000 attendees, over 8,000 more than last year. Regional Director Laurie Kaufman tells KPCC the event is aimed at those who are green conscious (and "green-curious") from all political backgrounds. “[It's] fun, it's smart, it tastes good and it's a way to broaden your community,” she said. 

So what should you be mindful of at this year's gathering of the planetary and ecologically conscious? A few highlights:

1. Eco-celebs

“Hollywood’s positive impact is also integral to this movement,” said Erin Brunner by email. Brunner is a senior account executive at Organicworks PR, handling public relations for the Green Festivals nationally. “The celebrity element is also much higher here – we have an all-star lineup in each of the cities, but the LA Festival draws big names of celebrities inspired by the environment.”

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The White House hosts first sports sustainability conference

Mercer 19847

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Last Thursday, the White House played host to the first-ever “Sports and Sustainability” conference to celebrate and discuss the ongoing progress in green and sustainable initiatives across the sports industry.

As reported by thinkprogress.org, representatives from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NASCAR and more gathered with government officials and environmental groups at the White House in “celebrating the sports industry’s successes in saving energy, reducing waste and adopting sustainable practices at sports facilities as part of the Better Buildings Challenge,” according to the Department of Energy. Created by President Obama, the Better Buildings Challenge is intended “to encourage major corporations, universities, and state and local governments to pledge and lead the way to saving energy, money, and showcasing the best energy saving strategies for buildings and their results.”

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Leonardo DiCaprio unites with Fisker Automotive on sustainability campaign

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

California automaker Fisker make worldwide headlines in July 2011 when actor/activist Leonardo DiCaprio bought the first Fisker Karma ever produced, a plush luxury plug-in hybrid car that cost in the vicinity of a cool $100,000 (Politicos Colin Powell and Al Gore were the next in line). As reported by Bloomberg, this week Fisker and DiCaprio (who is now an investor in the company) have announced a combined global sustainability campaign that promotes both the automaker as well as DiCaprio’s own charitable foundation.

“As an equity investor in Fisker Automotive, DiCaprio will participate in conversations on the auto manufacturer’s future plans for the advancement of sustainable, responsible vehicles,” the company said in a statement, adding that DiCaprio will “work closely with Fisker on marketing and promotional initiatives aimed at bringing attention to sustainability and environmental awareness.”

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Toyota, Johnson & Johnson top world’s greenest brands list

Global brand consultancy firm Interbrand has just released the second annual Best Global Green Brands report, ranking the companies with the most environmentally based missions and accomplishments over the past 12 months. This year’s list finds Toyota at number one (the automaker also topped last year's list), with Johnson & Johnson, Honda, Volkswagen and Hewlett-Packard rounding out the top five. Danone (#9), Ford (#15), Starbucks (#36) and UPS (#43) were the brands that saw the biggest jumps up the chart from last year's list.

The brands are ranked based on two criteria: Performance (“organizations must demonstrate that they source, produce, and distribute products and services in an environmentally responsible manner”) and perception (“organizations must work to build value amongst key audiences by credibly conveying the benefits of their environmental practices”).

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Hard sell: NASCAR teams with EPA to spread green message

Pioneer Hi-Bred 250

Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR

NEWTON, IA - MAY 20: Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, races during the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 20, 2012 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

When thoughts turn to the high-octane excitement of NASCAR racing, there isn’t much space left for anything remotely eco-friendly. Given than the cars burn through 450,000 gallons of gas a year and get on average a mere five miles to the gallon, car racing is about as far from green as a sport can be.

Still, as reported by Triple Pundit, NASCAR and the Environmental Protection Agency are coming together in an attempt to spread a more environmentally friendly message to the masses of Americans who are dedicated fans of the sport.

The five-page “Memorandum of Understanding” between the unlikely partners spells out the myriad of ways they can “facilitate transfer of useful environmental information to a large fan base via the well-developed communications network managed by NASCAR.”

“Because NASCAR is followed by millions of passionate fans and many businesses, it can be a powerful platform to raise environmental awareness, drive the adoption of safer products by more Americans, and support the growing green economy,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention in the Washington Examiner.

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