Southern California environment news and trends

Santa Monica wins sustainable community award

Eric Demarcq/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica

Earlier this month, we reported that California cities Riverside and Santa Monica were both up for one of three 2012 Siemens Sustainable Community Awards. It was announced just last night at a reception in Atlanta that Santa Monica took the midsize community award over Riverside and Jersey City, NJ. Chicago won for large community, while Purcellville, Virginia, took home the prize for small community.

"The awards show just how much the concept of sustainability has evolved for U.S. municipalities," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center founder and executive director Stephen Jordan in a press release. "Chicago, Santa Monica, and Purcellville show that getting sustainability right improves quality of life, the efficient use of resources, competitiveness, and attractiveness for residents and visitors."


Apple to work with critics on pollution audits

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Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

It was announced this week that the same environmental organization that charged Apple’s Chinese production partners with poor pollution practices is going to be working with the digital hardware maker to audit operations at one of the company’s suppliers.

Historically, Apple was not been forthcoming with their manufacturing partners. This new agreement will mark the first time the company has ever revealed the names of those partners, making it easier for environmental organizations to track the sustainability (or lack thereof) in the process. In this case, an unnamed maker of printed circuit boards will be the focus of an environmental review slated to start in “the next few weeks,” according to CNET.

“We are happy Apple is now opening its door,” said Shen Xunan, a project officer at the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs in Beijing to Business Week. After the organization criticized Apple last fall for working with suppliers who endangered public health through pollution, the company has made a very public effort to remedy the situation. Apple has yet to comment on the any of their environmental efforts outside of information provided on the company’s website.


Ikea helps plant two million trees across America

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Getty Images

Popular Swedish-based home furnishings retailer Ikea announced this week the planting of two million trees throughout the U.S. In conjunction with American Forests, Ikea’s Plant A Tree program strategically targeted areas in need, including 74,000 trees planted in California’s Sequoia National Forest as part of the McNally Fire restoration.

“Forests are the most important land-based ecosystems on earth. IKEA’s commitment to planting trees makes a real difference, both for the health of our planet and its inhabitants,” said Scott Steen, CEO of American Forests in a press release. “We at American Forests deeply appreciate the partnership of IKEA and its customers in this important work.”

Introducing the Plant A Tree program back in 1998, Ikea has a long history of practicing sustainability, including an extensive solar panel initiative and being the first major retailer to stop all sales on incandescent lighting.


City of Claremont earns green award

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Steven Cuevas

Noridan troupe member in rehearsal for Claremont's "eco-parade".

Claremont is the first city in California to be honored with the “Silver” award in recognition of sustainability efforts in the community. It’s one of only four cities — Monrovia, Riverside and Santa Clarita — to be recognized by the California Green Communities for their commitment.

Among Claremont’s green initiatives include improving energy efficiency and water conservation at city buildings and promoting physical activity through public education and environmental upgrading. The city was also responsible for a unique homeowner assistance program for instigating energy-conserving retrofits such as HVAC optimization and converting to solar panels.

"Our City takes its commitment to sustainability seriously," remarked Mayor Sam Pedroza in a press release. "It is a priority for the City Council and it is a consideration in every project and program we provide. Achieving the Silver level status validates the tremendous work this community has done."


Walmart introduces new "Great For You" healthy food label

Walmart Stores/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

Long one of America’s most controversial retailers, Walmart continues it’s aggressive charge to being a more responsible one with the launch of new labels clearly identifying healthier food choices for shoppers.

Starting this spring, the bright green “Great For You” label will appear on Walmart house brands Great Value and Marketside, as well as fresh and packaged produce.

“Walmart moms are telling us they want to make healthier choices for their families, but need help deciphering all the claims and information already displayed on products,” explained Andrea Thomas, the senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart in a press release. “Our ‘Great For You’ icon provides customers with an easy way to quickly identify healthier food choices. As they continue to balance busy schedules and tight budgets, this simple tool encourages families to have a healthier diet.”