Archives for posts with tag: sustainability

Kimchee Cookoff

Good Food Day LA- what a fantastic event!!  While all sorts of amazing things went on throughout the city involving over 3,000 participants at 40 locations, I had the opportunity to attend the central event at Metabolic Studio near Chinatown and the cornfield-turned-park in downtown.  Along with a couple of food trucks with tasty items, there was a small vendor fair with information on urban gardens, youth programs, and volunteer opportunities throughout the city.  There was an awesome kimchee cook-off, which included chefs, farmers, food critics and even a councilmember as judges.  The winners were stoked, it was very cool to watch.  The main event ended with a great speech by LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy on the importance of good food in schools and beyond, as well as food workers rights.

SO why is this important?  Why is the LA Food Policy Council (along with the mayor) even putting on an event like this?  Of course, everybody likes “good” food- in the sense that it tastes good- but when you can feel good about eating that food as well, it brings another dimension of “good” to the table that you may not have previously considered a part of the package.  Once you start to look into our food-related policies and practices, like the folks at the Council have been doing, you start to understand the wide reach that food has as well as its impact on many aspects of our lives.  Consider:  Where is your food coming from?  Are different parts of it coming from different parts of the country, or even the world?  What is it packaged in, and how were those materials processed?  Are they recyclable?  Were pesticides involved?  Should you be worried about them?  How about the people who helped, plant, grow, collect, process, pack, distribute or cook the food?  Not to mention issues related to Farmers Markets, food trucks, and problems of access to food…in short, food connects to every aspect of our lives and the lives of the people around us.  It impacts public health, urban design, poverty, government policies, sustainability, agricultural practices and so much more.

It is because of the breadth and the depth of the issue of food that its become such a hot topic across the board, and is something that everyone can relate to and should be aware of.  So the next time you have the opportunity to get involved in something food related, take a chance and see what its all about.

Are you using reusable water bottles?  You should be!  Heres my list of why:

1.  Price:  We pay much, much more for bottled water than tap water.  In fact, if you look at the price per ounces in the average bottle, you’re probably paying 5 cents and ounce, versus tap water, which is about a cent per gallon.  If you’re looking to save money in this tough economy, quit buying your water pre-packaged.

2.  Quality:  As much as bottled water distributers would have us believe that their water is cleaner than what comes out of tap.  However, most cities have extremely rigorous water controls, and studies have shown that most bottled water is not cleaner than tap water, and sometimes its even dirtier- and it sure doesn’t usually come from mountain springs, either.  Much of it comes from the tap, just like that in your kitchen sink.

3.  Trash:  Think about how much trash is created by throwing away these bottles after just one use!  Even if they’re being recycled, it is very likely that the materials are being downcycled, which means that they’ve already had their highest and best use, and they’re going to be used at a lesser quality and functionality.  We’ve taken for granted that our waste to “goes away”, but we’ve got to wake up to the fact that plastic in particular takes a LONG time to break down, and that we’re filling up our landfills when we don’t have to. Read the rest of this entry »

Trash: the big topic for many Angelenos over the past couple of weeks.  For most of us, waste is something we don’t think about much, and can’t wait to get rid of; while we try to recycle as much as possible, and use reusable containers and the like, we still generate a tremendous amount of trash.  When we’re done with a wrapper or a soda cup, we generally can’t wait for it to be out of our sight.  However, if you’re working in the waste industry, you don’t have that luxury.  In Los Angeles, trash is currently handled in two major ways: residential waste it picked up by the city, and private waste haulers take care of commercial and large apartment buildings.  For the latter group, trash pick up is a regular cost to incur, but because they can chose the private handlers themselves, there is an argument that the environmental and safety standards these handlers are held to are lacking.  In fact, two young waste workers were recently killed due to the hazardous materials and lack of proper equipment at their place of work.  While many people, especially owners of apartment buildings, are happy with the current system and the level of flexibility it allows them, there are others who believe the environmental and safety impacts are too great to ignore.

A plan was put before the LA Board of Public Works, changing the current free-market system of private waste hauling to a franchise system, either exclusive or non-exclusive.  This means that the system would be highly regulated and companies would have to be approved by the city.  The Bureau of Sanitation put forth a set of recommendations based on their data, which was approved unanimously by the Board- the next step was a hearing on what to accept for the city.

The hearing took place on Monday, February 13th, and I was lucky enough to be informed about it ahead of time, and was in attendance.   Read the rest of this entry »

Isn’t it great the way the green movement has become so popular?  Or, maybe a better question:  IS it great that the green movement has become so popular?  Sure, a lot of people understand the importance of greening the way we live.  As I wrote in my post about Women in Green Forum, there are people in many, many industries who are making a point of becoming more sustainable.  Cups are made from corn, electric cars are on the market, and people are using bamboo flooring instead of hardwood.

“Being Green” has become a popular trend in many markets, not the least of which the planning and design field that I’m most familiar with.  Today, its everywhere you look!  I feel, however, that therein lies the problem.  If being “green” is popular today, what will be popular tomorrow?  Next week?  In 10 years?  Sustainable living can’t just be a fad to really work.  It can’t be something that only those rich enough can afford, or those “in the know”.  In order to actually make a difference, it has to go beyond the popular topic of the moment and into a normal aspect of our lives.  Remember after 9/11?  How everyone you knew had an American car flag?  Patriotism was the soup of the day.  How quickly did that get edged out when the political tide ebbed?  Though its not the best analogy, I think its brings up a fair question:  will “being green” ever become more than just a fad with the general population?

Part of what leads me to believe that it isn’t integrated enough into our psyche yet is the way it needs to be advertised.  When some product, service, or venue has any remotely sustainable aspect, its shoved in your face.  Ok, ok.  So maybe this is because in the scheme of things, its kind of new to think about materials and waste in the way we’re starting to now.  But I won’t consider society really, completely aware of the necessity of a sustainable lifestyle until it becomes the norm. The day I can buy coffee and they DON’T think its weird that I ask them to fill up the travel mug I brought from home will be a happy day indeed.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities is in danger of having its funding cut!

“Uhh, whats that?”, you may ask.  Well, I’ll tell you:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and US Dept. of Transportation (DOT) got together in 2009 to help form programs that protect the environment, provide more access to affordable housing, and increase affordable and accessible transportation options.  Sounds great, right?  Well, unfortunately there are people out there who are very against it- people who care more about their personal pocketbooks, right to own acres of suburban property they’re doing nothing with other than watering, and keep people who they don’t deem worthy of occupying the same areas as them out, than the future of our urban and ecological environments.  Sure, they’re entitled to their parochial opinions- but we can speak out too.  And for people who don’t want more taxes (cough cough), this collaboration MAKES SENSE because by connecting these groups into a unified coalition, they’re more able to communicate and create progarms that benefit all of them at once, meaning a more efficient use of tax dollars.  (Wow, that wasn’t politically charged at all…)

“In the past week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to strip funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Senate will consider funding for the Partnership in the coming days, and now is the time to tell your Senators to maintain funding for this important program.” – Smart Growth America

In order to contact your local senator and have your voice heard, go to this website on Smart Growth America’s webpage.  I’ve sent in my email, you should too!

Here is the government’s website, and the website for the partnership itself.