Southern California environment news and trends

Beer company converts coasters into tree seed bombs

There’s no disputing that Canada makes great beer (even if baseball’s Bryce Howard famously doesn’t want to talk about it). Now long-time favorite Great White North brew, Molson Canadian, is literally making Black Spruce trees out of beer coasters that are actually thinly disguised seed bombs.

As reported by Treehugger, the seed-infused drink coasters are available in specially marked cases of Molson Canadian (which is now a division of the very American Coors) and come emblazoned with the tag line, “This Land is Awesome.”

The coasters are the latest salvo in Molson Canadian’s ongoing Red Leaf Project, a project launched last year with the goal of generating volunteers to help plant over 100,000 trees across Canada, among a host of environmental initiatives.

“I know that we make both positive and negative impacts on people and the earth. We call that “Our Beer Print” – just like a beer leaves a mark on the table or coaster, we leave our mark,” said Bart Alexander, the Chief Corporate Responsibility Officer for Molson on the company’s blog. “Much is positive – such as the good times we spend together over beers, the jobs we create, and the contributions we make to our communities. Some is negative – like alcohol abuse or discharges and accidents in our breweries. We are dedicated as a company and as a collection of people to do all we can to grow our positive beer print and shrink our negative beer print… just like we’re doing with the Molson Canadian Red Leaf Project.”


Dozens of trees felled at Fresno State ‘Treemageddon’

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Margot Adler/NPR

Fresno State faculty and students alike are expressing outrage and sadness at what's being called 'Treemageddon,' the removal of more than 150 mature trees to make room for an additional 600 parking spaces on the east side of campus.

It's been alleged that the only advance notice the trees were going to be cut down came in the form of a faculty email from the campus parking administrator last Wednesday, the same day the chopping began. Many students learned of the situation through emails and blogs after the fact.

"There was no word prior about this atrocious removal of these old, beautiful trees," said Fresno State English professor Magda Gilewicz to the Fresno Bee. "In Fresno, where we have one of the worst air pollution in the country, we cannot afford to lose any trees.”

Biology professor Madhusudan Katti told KSEE 24 News that he’s now lost valuable teaching tools in the parking lot expansion as well.


Extrabux planting trees for Earth Day

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Getty Images

For the more dedicated and efficient shopper, Extrabux is both a godsend and a necessity. For those of us a little slower on the uptake, a few clicks discover that Extrabux is an immensely popular online shopping portal (launched by a couple of twenty-something guys in San Diego) that offers coupons and cash rebates per transaction at an impressive array of retailers.

To leave a literal mark on Earth Day 2012, Extrabux has vowed to plant a tree for every purchase made on the site this weekend. Kicking off yesterday, Thursday, April 19 and running through Sunday the 22nd (which just so happens to be Earth Day), the site teamed with American Forests to help bring the initiative to life. Their goal is to plan “a whole forest.”

They also use the occasion to emphasize the 2008 Carnegie Mellon study which found that shopping online is a whole 35 percent greener than the traditional method of going to a physical store.


Ikea helps plant two million trees across America

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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.


Tree DJ: turntable plays the mournful music of tree-rings

Stevie Wonder once titled an album Journey Through “The Secret Life of Plants”. Thanks to an ambitious German artist, we can start to hear how that might have actually sounded.

Bartholomäus Traubeck has created a modified turntable that instead of reading vinyl grooves, digitally translates tree rings into haunting, mournful piano music reminiscent of Philip Glass.

For his project entitled “Years”, Traubeck utilized a slew of technical components including Arduino and Ableton Live software, which analyzes the tree’s rings for thickness and rate of growth. Also reading the wood’s texture and color tone, the high-tech tone arm generates the music while “playing” across the wooden “record”.

The resulting music is a sonic representation of the tree’s life cycle, and various environmental factors it endured as it grew.