Southern California environment news and trends

Los Angeles aims to become a zero waste city


Clicking through the news this morning, I was struck with a pang of jealousy — for San Francisco’s waste management program. Our northern neighbor’s diverts nearly 80 percent of its waste through recycling and composting programs — and got big props for its efforts on eco news site Grist, which not only profiled San Francisco’s waste management program but also ran a Q&A with Jack Macy, San Francisco’s Zero Waste Coordinator.

So I thought I’d write a little something about Los Angeles’ own zero waste efforts.

Now, all California cities had to get seriously about recycling in 1989, when AB 39, which required California cities to divert at least 50 percent of waste from landfills, became law. That’s why California’s a leader in recycling rates in general. Sadly, Angelenos are a bit behind San Francisco residents — though to be fair, we don’t know how close San Francisco is to 80 percent yet. The last solid figures  San Francisco has are for 2008, when the city diverted 72 percent of the trash. Los Angeles has more recent figures as of June 2009, when we diverted 65 percent of the trash — the highest diversion rate among the 10 largest U.S. cities, as the city’s Department of Public Works likes to point out.


Green investment growing power?

Comes news today that shareholders' groups aren't happy with all that investment oil companies have done in Proposition 23. A Ceres press release says shareholder resolutions are en route at corporations that are major contributors to Proposition 23.

At Valero:

“As a religious organization, the Unitarian Universalist Association calls on all companies in which it invests to support - not undermine - public policies that reduce climate change,” said Tim Brennan, treasurer at UUA, which filed the shareholder resolution with Valero. “Our values compel us to protect the planet and to stand with marginalized people, who are disproportionately harmed by the impacts of global warming. Valero’s extraordinary support for Proposition 23 delays the country from tackling an urgent human, environmental and economic concern and puts our shareholder value at risk.”


Morning greens: Subway, sand, and solar news

Alternate2 Equal Ex

What will the Subway to the Sea look like? Well, it doesn’t go to the sea in Metro’s recommendation for the Westside Subway Extension (PDF). The recommended route would extend the Purple Line down Wilshire to the VA. Metro’s The Source blog has a summary of the recommendation’s decisions along with their rationales.

Metro also revealed its recommendation for the Regional Connector (PDF), which would hook up the various transit lines in downtown Los Angeles. That recommendation calls for three stations — eliminating a fourth station considered at 5th/Flower. Again, Metro’s The Source has an overview of the highlights.

In response to Metro’s recommendations, Streetsblog LA points out the Metro’s recommendations were made before the public commenting period on the projects ended. Metro’s still officially taking comments for both projects until Oct. 18.


Green picks: Network, reconstruct, rally, and rock

Where to go, what to do, how to green. Our event picks for the coming week:

Tonight: Green Business Networking will bring together eco-entrepreneurs and desperate job seekers alike over organic food and drinks at Berkeley Mills, 1330 4th St., Santa Monica from 6-9 pm. Cost: $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Thu, 10/14: Catch an eco-fashion show featuring EM Reconstruct, a line made with upcycled materials. The collection will be showcased at UP NEXT: L.A. DESIGNERS at EM & Co, 7940 W. 3rd St. Los Angeles from 7 pm to 11 pm. RSVP to

Fri, 10/15: Hear State Senator Fran Pavley at a No on Prop 23 Rally at UCLA. Organized by UCLA eco student group E3, the rally will happen at Meyerhoff Park in front of Kerckhoff Hall at UCLA (campus map, PDF) from 11:30 am to 1 pm.

Fri, 10/15 to Sun, 10/17: The Conscious Life Expo's not just about UFOs and psychics -- though fans of both will certainly be at the event. Focus on the exhibitors, many of whom will feature eco-friendly fashions, food, and products -- alongside "vibrational therapy" and "aura photography." It all happens at  LAX Hilton Hotel, 5711 Century Blvd., Los Angeles. Cost: $20 in advance, $25 at the door.


Is adoption a green option? Talk to Scott Simon.

NPR's Scott Simon is a former colleague (going back a decade now, yeesh) and I've been touched to hear the emotion in his voice as he talks about the emotional choice of adopting children that he and his wife have taken. But Lisa Hymas of Grist has actually read Scott's book (I haven't had a chance yet), and the following passage stood out to her:

Adopting a child to prove something is not a healthy motivation. I would seriously consider alerting the authorities if I heard a prospective parent say, "We want to adopt because it's the most environmentally responsible thing to do.  Don't want to increase our carbon footprint, after all!"

Heck, it would stand out to me too. I don't know if anyone on earth has ever said those words. But the discussion she had with Scott Simon about his book - which you can read in full on - touches on a larger converation I've heard brewing about population growth and the burden it places on the planet - an intersection of health, environment, political issues and economic ones that is one of those fundamental, hiding-in-plain-sight kind of questions - like campaign finance reform, in a way.