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  • EnvironmentFebruary 21, 2012Sabrina Bornstein

    Junk Math: The Waste Industry’s Numbers Don’t Add Up

    February 13 was a big day for those who want Los Angeles to lead the way in greening our cities. After a contentious all-day hearing, the L.A. City Board of Public Works unanimously approved the Bureau of Sanitation’s recommendation to transform trash collection from businesses and large apartment buildings.

    Under the new system, which must still be approved by the City Council, haulers will operate under an exclusive franchise system with environmental standards and accountability. This means, finally, that our city will know who is picking up trash where, when and how — and that only responsible haulers, committed to playing by the rules, will be picking up and processing our trash.

    One of the themes heard repeatedly during public testimony at last week’s board hearing was that an exclusive system is going to raise costs. And there was a magic number to go along with the cry: 33 percent!

     » Read more about: Junk Math: The Waste Industry’s Numbers Don’t Add Up  »

  • EnvironmentFebruary 21, 2012Guest Feature

    Let’s Ban Toilet Paper, Some Enviros Say

    (Note: This post first appeared on Grist.com.)

    By Christopher Mims

    Maybe you’ve heard that we’re now using more trees for toilet paper than for newsprint. (Not least because the newspaper industry is even more in the toilet than toilet paper.) But did you know that because of Americans’ demand for super-soft TP for our bungholes, 98 percent of the pulp used to make the stuff comes from virgin wood?

    “Future generations are going to look at the way we make toilet paper as one of the greatest excesses of our age. Making toilet paper from virgin wood is a lot worse than driving Hummers in terms of global warming pollution,” Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defence Council, told the Guardian.

    More toilet paper used to be made out of recycled office paper,

     » Read more about: Let’s Ban Toilet Paper, Some Enviros Say  »

  • EnvironmentFebruary 15, 2012Cynthia Strathmann

    DWP’s Power Struggle and the Future of LA

    George Garrigues/Wikimedia

    The emergence of Los Angeles as one of the world’s great cities, despite its location in a resource-stressed desert basin, has always been the surprise outcome of an unnatural act. L.A.’s stunning growth has been fed by a vast network of electric transmission wires that have, for 100 years, drawn in power from around the West to fuel the always-enlarging economic engines of the city.

    This form of urban nourishment has been orchestrated by the city-owned Department of Water and Power (LADWP), which has historically provided L.A. with extremely reliable power at an unusually low price. But now, like utilities around the nation, the DWP is facing serious challenges.

    First, the DWP will have to provide more and more power to the city. The population of Los Angeles is going to keep expanding, and with technological innovations like electric vehicles, the need for power will only increase.

     » Read more about: DWP’s Power Struggle and the Future of LA  »

  • EnvironmentFebruary 9, 2012Adrian Martinez

    Big Step Taken to Resolve LA's Trash Crisis

    (This post originally appeared February 8 on the author’s Switchboard blog.)

    Yesterday, the Bureau of Sanitation for the City of L.A. released its recommendations for fixing the inefficiencies in L.A.’s waste system. After more than a year of careful consideration, the Bureau determined that an exclusive franchise system with 11 franchise zones for the commercial and multi-family sectors would provide the best solution to increasing recycling and minimizing the burden that waste collection imposes on L.A. residents.

    As I have written before, the commercial and multi-family sectors are responsible for approximately 70 percent of the waste L.A. sends to landfills, so it is an important nut to crack to meet the City’s zero waste goals. I have written several blogs on this issue and on the benefits of going to zero waste ranging from reducing our dependence on polluting and space hogging landfills to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions to creating more jobs.

     » Read more about: Big Step Taken to Resolve LA's Trash Crisis  »

  • EnvironmentFebruary 8, 2012Steven Mikulan

    Tea’d Off! Why the Baggers’ Grassroots Aren’t Green

    It’s not known if the Tea Party will ever be identified by one color, the way our two dominant political parties are. With red and blue already taken, it’s tempting to guess that the Tea Party would embrace – well, white. In any case, it won’t be green. Consider a February 4 New York Times piece, which spells out the tireless campaign waged by the movement against any legislation tilting toward a sustainable environment. Some of the laws vehemently contested include:

    • A Virginia “county’s paying $1,200 in dues to a nonprofit that consults on sustainability issues.”
    • A Maine public works project designed to ease highway congestion.
    • A high-speed train network for Florida.

    The reason for Tea Party opposition to these seemingly uncontroversial undertakings is a deep suspicion of an obscure and nonbinding United Nations resolution passed in 1992.

     » Read more about: Tea’d Off! Why the Baggers’ Grassroots Aren’t Green  »