Southern California environment news and trends

Do beach cleanups matter when the next wave brings more trash? Heal the Bay says yes!

This post is part of Blog Action Day 2010, when bloggers around the world unite and post about a single pressing issue. This year’s topic is water.

If you cleaned Santa Monica beach during Coastal Cleanup Day last month, you got an extra treat for your eco-volunteerism. A green-themed flash mob teamed up with environmental nonprofit Heal the Bay to entertain, dancing to a medley of songs including Jack Johnson’s rendition of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”

Coastal Cleanup Day only comes around once a year, but Heal the Bay, the Santa Monica-based environmental nonprofit dedicated to cleaning up Southern California’s coastal waters, has “Nothin’ But Sand” beach cleanups on the third Saturday of each month. And the next one happens to be scheduled for tomorrow morning in Venice!

Why should you volunteer? Saira Gandhi, volunteer coordinator at Heal the Bay, couldn’t promise me another flash mob experience — but she did give some compelling reasons why I should help tidy up the beach. For one, picking up the small bits of plastic on the beach can save the lives of marine animals who would otherwise gobble it up believing the trash to be food — then slowly starve to death when the undigested plastic leaves no room in their tummies for actual food.


Morning greens: Malibu welcomes campers, McDonald's greens arches

broadbeach morning greens: You are now free to camp in Malibu

Malibu now open to campers. For the first time, public camping will be allowed in Malibu, thanks to a vote from the California Coastal Commission to approve the Malibu Parks Public Access Enhancement Plan (PDF). Up to 280 campers per night will get to enjoy outdoor overnight stays in the coastal city, according to Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority’s press release. [Update: While the plan has been passed, campgrounds obviously still have to be built before camping actually begins. Campgrounds could be ready for visitors as soon as Summer 2011, according to Dash Stolarz of the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority.]

About 75 residents protested against Prop 23 at Tesoro’s Wilmington refinery yesterday, according to a press release from Communities United Against the Dirty Energy Proposition. LA Times reports that “Opponents of the ballot initiative to suspend California’s global warming law had contributed $19.6 million, more than twice the amount given by supporters.”


Get free Halloween costumes at the Seven-Ten Swap


Here’s a threefer: If you need 1) a free costume for Halloween, 2) free new outfits for this summer-like fall, and 3) a feel-good, do-gooder green moment, get yourself to the Seven-Ten Swap tomorrow.

As you may have guessed from the name of the event, the Seven-Ten Swap is indeed in Long Beach. But the trek may be well worth it for Pacific Swell readers who live elsewhere. Simply go through your own closet for a bag of clothes you haven’t worn in over a year and Halloween costumes you’re tired of — then head over to the Seven-Ten Swap to trade them for new-to-you fashions and costumes your friends didn’t see last year.

Where does the do-gooder moment come in? Well, first, you can feel good that you’re opting out of consumer culture by wearing pre-loved clothes — and that you’re keeping perfectly good clothes out of the landfill too. But on top of those eco-benefits, the Seven-Ten Swap’s taking part in a campaign called Swap for Good, which encourages people to host clothing swaps and raise money for local domestic violence shelters. Recessionistas can get free new-to-them clothes — then donate some of the money they’ve saved to a shelter near them — since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


Notes from Solar Power International '10

Any massive convention's alienating: enormous badges. $3 sodas. Men with shopping bags, branded logos on their shoulders. "Networking areas." The phrase "turnkey solutions." The way people size each other up, unabashedly, as they walk down the maze-aisles between the popup displays. A sea of similar looking panels; companies whose names are all deeply different to each other but similar at a glance. If you don't find it faintly ridiculous, you're actually inside it, and the headline from Solar Power International this week is that more people are inside it this year than ever before: 27,000 people, with 1100 exhibitors, converged on LA this week.

Running around massive business-to-business conferences at the Los Angeles Convention Center is way more fun when you don't have to turn a story around about it the same day. For example, it allowed me to take a picture of these t-shirts at the convention's block party at L.A. Live:


Pacific Swell: It's swell! We dare you to read it

oceanagrenier Pacific Swell: Its swell! We dare you to read itWhat do Leonardo DiCaprio and Adrian Grenier do when they don’t want attention? They talk about the environment!

That’s a very loose interpretation of their words, but in a city known for its car culture and celeb obsessions, talking green can be the easiest way to lose friends and alienate people, as Adrian revealed to NY Times’ blog Freakonomics last month:

Leonardo DiCaprio once said, and I’m paraphrasing, he “found a way to become paparazzi proof by making a serious film about the environment.” Tabloids thrive on simple conflict and crass hearsay. So if you are looking to avoid the paparazzi, sadly doing positive things that require more thought will often be ignored. Tabloids are junk food. It’s important to balance your media diet.

Both men are now well-known for their eco-activism — at least within the environmental community. Which is to say that getting people to pay attention to environmental issues — no matter how important they may be — can be very difficult. So difficult that even when a Global Work Party of 7000+ events is happening around the world, environmental activist and founder Bill McKibben has to “dare” the media to cover the news:

Even though the country with the most events (over 1,000) is the United States, I think we’re going to have to fight harder than we should to get American media to cover the event….

Why? Because we’re acting reasonably, responsibly, like adults. Not drawing swastikas, not talking crazy. It’s a work party, not a tea party, and that may prove too sane to attract the cameras.

Well, we at Pacific Swell certainly covered the event. And like Bill, Molly and I dare you — to read Pacific Swell!

Bookmark our blog (, subscribe to our RSS feed, and even help shape our coverage by telling us what environmental issues most affect you and who you’d like to see profiled as an Everyday Hero of the environment.

Photo of Adrian Grenier: Tim Calver/Oceana