Southern California environment news and trends

When big companies do good things: Ford Motor Co. to convert millions of plastic water bottles into car interiors

Ford Executives Highlight Former Truck Plant Converted To Build The Focus And Focus Electric

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

WAYNE- DECEMBER 14: A 2011 Ford Focus goes through the assembly line at the Ford Michigan Assembly Plant following a media preview of Ford products and technology at Ford's Michigan Assembly Plant December 14, 2010 in Wayne, Michigan. The plant was formerly a truck plant that was converted to build the 2012 Ford Focus and Focus Electric vehicles. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

With the automotive world currently focused on Detroit and the 2012 North American Auto Show, Big Three automaker Ford Motor Company has announced one of the most intriguing new eco-friendly car features ever.

Partnering with REPREVE, who specialize in recycled fabrics, Ford will divert around 2 million plastic water bottles from festering in a landfill to create seat fabric for the new Focus Electric vehicles. It will be the first car able to boast an interior of 100% clean technology.

Ford and REPREVE are currently collecting bottles at both the Detroit Auto Show and in Las Vegas at the Consumers Electronics Show that will be used to make the material (they estimate it will take around 22 bottles to produce each car interior).

They also use the occasion to report the sobering news that in America, only 29% of plastic bottles find their way to being recycled, which is about half the rate in Europe. Awkward!


Can music festivals like Coachella really offset the environmental impact?

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Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Musician Zach Ernst of Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears performs during the first day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2011 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2011 in Indio.

With music fans alight over the announcement of the 2012 Coachella line-up, more environmentally conscious concertgoers are still waiting to hear about this year’s sustainable efforts. Granted, it’s not all philanthropic — Coachella promoters Goldenvoice have traditionally made it worth the effort.

The “Carpoolchella” contest has happening every year since 2007. It encourages fans to carpool for the trek to the desert in decorated vehicles. Carpoolers in the winning vehicle (selected by event organizers) win tickets to the festival for life. The 10 For 1 Bottle Exchange is an ingenious way of keeping the polo fields free from empty plastic bottles, and fans hydrated.

Working with non-profit Global Inheritance, for the “TRASHed: Art of Recycling” project, where local artists are commissioned to decorate recycling bins that make up an interactive art-walk on the festival grounds.


When big companies do good things: Ford Motor Co. to reduce water usage 30% per vehicle in 3 years

Having already reduced their global water usage by 62% (or 10.5 billion gallons) between 2000 and 2010, Ford announced plans last week to continue that trend by reducing how much water is used per vehicle produced by the year 2015.

“Water remains one of our top environmental priorities," Sue Cischke, group vice president, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering said in a statement from Ford, "and our aggressive reduction target helps ensure continued focus on this critical resource.”

While Ford’s press release went on to detail exactly how they plan on making this ambitious plan a reality, we were much more taken with the nifty infographic that puts 10.5 billion gallons of water into a more relatable context. Given the water crisis prevalent in far too many parts of the world, it’s a sobering thought to think that the actions of one corporation can preserve such a tremendous amount of water. 


LADWP talking about Elysian Reservoir's Rubber-Mat Roof


Black plastic balls are a stopgap measure. LADWP is deciding on a long-term solution at Elysian Reservoir.

As we report elsewhere, the LA Board of Water and Power Commissioners decided to send forward a special “water quality adjustment factor” rate increase for customers. The biggest and shiniest fireworks over that factor-rate-increase will come at the City Council hearing, the one that has to happen for the bumped-up bill to happen. But the DWP board DID get a little taste of flaring tensions over the Elysian Reservoir, and the idea of a park there, from its champions.

The Department of Water and Power has been talking, on and off, about burying the Elysian Reservoir and turning the above-ground part into a park since the 1980s, from what I can tell.  Elysian Park neighbors and regional advocates want parkland; they want something visibly beautiful, something kind of like what Rowena Reservoir neighbors got a few years back.  


Song(s) of the Week: "Orca," by deadmau5, "Orca," by Wintersleep

Photo via mrmritter via Flickr Creative Commons

Orcas at East Point Saturna Island, July 19, 2008, working against a strong flooding rip current, going slow.

I'm not entirely comfortable with anybody's position about the rights of animals in the lawsuit PETA has brought on behalf of 5 orcas. So I picked two songs I'm not entirely comfortable with to represent that. 

The first is deadmou5's "Orca."

The second is Wintersleep's "Orca." 

Only the Canadian band's song has words:

I'll be a killer whale, when I grow up,

I'll be a vulture

I'll be an animal, a carnivore, 

I'll be a monster

Clenching my jagged jaws over the captured

I'll be a killer whale when I grow up

I'll be a monster

deadmau5 has the sort of speed I imagine of a deadly pod of orcas. But the thing that's intriguing about the lyrics of Wintersleep's song is that they've got the menace. Dolphins are outstanding pack hunters, after all. 

Both of these songs imagine, in their way, what it's like to be an orca. But the imagining is done by people. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that. It's making for interesting law, and legal theory, and ethical discussions. There's something valuable in trying to see the world from someone else's point of view than your own; why not some other species? I guess I'm doubtful about what we're hearing straight from the orca's mouth, as it were.