(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,
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.
(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.
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:
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.
That was the unlikely message to emerge from a series of town halls that have been held around the city over the last few months hosted by RePower LA, a new citywide coalition. From East and South L.A. to the Valley and the Westside, environmentalists, business owners and young people in need of jobs have sung the praises of energy efficiency.
Why the commotion? It’s over the promise and potential of making the LADWP, the nation’s largest municipally owned utility, a leader in energy efficiency. Energy efficiency programs can keep our bills low, saving businesses and residents hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. They also provide local jobs. And they can help wean us off our reliance on dirty energy sources that pollute our air and threaten our health.
Thousands of Los Angeles residents and businesses want the LADWP to invest in a sustained manner in programs that make our homes and businesses more energy efficient and create good jobs,