Archive for November, 2010

Plastic Grocery Bags Banned in L.A. County Starting in 2011

by Karoline Steavenson

The Los Angeles Times and other local news outlets reported Tuesday that the L.A.

County Board of Supervisors approved a ban on plastic grocery bags countywide

starting  July 1, 2011. Food and drug stores will no longer be allowed to bag customers’

items in plastic bags. Customers can carry their goods home in paper bags, but those will cost $0.10 each.

Here is the portion of the ordinance that gives the details of the new law:

“Approve and adopt the Ordinance banning plastic carryout bags at all supermarkets and other grocery stores, convenience stores, food marts, pharmacies, and drug stores located in the County unincorporated areas, while requiring stores that provide recyclable paper carryout bags to impose a charge of ten (10) cents per bag to a customer, effective beginning July 1, 2011, for certain affected stores and January 1, 2012, for all other affected stores.”

Rong-Gong Lin II, reporting for the L.A. Times, wrote that, “In Los Angeles County alone, 6 billion plastic bags are used each year, an average of 1,600 bags per household a year. Government figures show that only about 5% are recycled.”

In conversations about plastic grocery bags I have sometimes heard dog owners complain that they need plastic grocery bags to clean up after their dogs. Consumers can buy plastic quart and gallon size bags at many dollar stores for that purpose.  They can also buy dog clean up bags from many pet supply stores.

Petco Waste Clean Up Bags – 100 for $8.47

Kyjen Pooch Pick Up – 100 for $4.81


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eWaste Recycling

by Karoline Steavenson

eWaste is comprised of old, unwanted, non-functioning televisions, radios, CD players, amplifiers, computers, game consoles, car rechargers, cellphones, cellphone rechargers, USB cables, floppy disc readers, cameras, and many other electronics that are a part of nearly every life now.

Old electronics can be recycled easily.(Photo from

Often these old TVs, cables and other eWaste items wind up in the dumpster.  That’s not where they belong. The batteries and other electronics in these items harm the environment even if they don’t work.

Broken or unwanted electronics can be dropped off at an eWaste collection center or picked up by a private eWaste business.

The City of Los Angeles has several permanent collection centers.

EWC Recyclers and All Green Electronics Recycling are two local businesses that pick up some large items from residential clients for no charge, or consumers can drop off their eWaste at one of their local offices. They also pick up larger loads from businesses for a fee.

Consumers can also give their broken electronics to Goodwill Industries Thrift Stores. They have an eWaste recycling program too.

The components and metals in electronics can be harvested and reused. (Photo from )

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Guayakí is so good

By Julio A. Cruz

Like most of you, I did not know what was Guayakí Yerba Mate Organic until I saw its Fair Trade table at the Fair Trade Futures Conference in Quincy, Mass. early September.

Guayakí Yerba Mate logo. Photo Courtesy: University of San Diego Student Radio.

Guayakí isn’t only Fair Trade but certified organic, too. I’ve only tried a couple of drinks, including the 16 oz. non-carbonated organic yerba mate Lemon Elation which comes in a can.

Some might ask, what is a yerba mate? I had that same question, and found that it’s:

Yerba mate is the legendary infusion from South America that is luring people away from their daily coffee fix.  Yerba mate first caught the attention of world-class athletes and health-conscious people, but now mate is becoming a favorite healthful daily ritual for all people taking their well-being seriously. Grown in the sub-tropical rainforests of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, yerba mate has long been revered as the “drink of the gods”.

So as you can see, it’s healthy, good for us. It’s also Kosher certified.

In its packaging process, starting from the start in growing the yerba mate to processing it, to packaging to transporting it to having it in your hands, Guayakí products takes out carbon from the environment.

Even the pamphlet, which all its info is on, the paper used is from 50% Post-Consumer Waste paper, it’s processed with free of Chlorine, uses vegetable based inks,  and it’s Green-e certified.

They even plant native trees in South American forests.

So get out, check out Whole Foods Market, for example, and choose any of its six stimulants, like yerba mate, coffee, tea, kola nut, cocoa or guarana.

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Los Angeles Needs More Shade Trees

by Karoline Steavenson

When you fly to various other cities around the country you’ll see a variety of habitats from the air. Over the Midwest you’ll see a quilt of farmland broken up by groves of woods, rivers, ponds and lakes. Over the Southwest you’ll see barrenness, like this photograph of New Mexico from 35,000 feet:

Photo of a southern section of New Mexico.


But when you fly over Los Angeles you’ll see a desert that humanity has tried to turn into something other than desert for over 100 years.

L.A. doesn’t get much natural rainfall, so many years ago developer and entrepreneur William Mulholland designed a way to divert water from the Owens Valley, far north of L.A., and bring it here.  Without this water the city never would have been able to grow into the metropolis it is now. The aqueduct system that brings us water from the north was also expanded in the 1970s.

In spite of all this trouble to bring water to L.A., the city is still low on trees in my opinon. Many species of trees are some of the most water efficient plants homeowners and cities can invest in. Here is evidence of how the city and county needs more trees:

Los Angeles County from the air.



There are thousands upon thousands of rooftops lying bare to the heat of the sun. Trees branches offer shade and that shade over homes and yards slows the evaporation of water from the ground and cools off homes. But look at all the naked rooftops in L.A.

A portion of the L.A. River.



Many areas  beside the L.A. River are barren and bereft of trees. The cement developers used to encase the river prevents flooding. That helped real estate developers build homes and businesses up against the river, but it also took away all the natural opportunities trees had to drop seeds and have them grow beside this water source.

We could remedy this. Those of us who live here now could tell our leaders we want the L.A. River to be repopulated with trees. They’d have to be planted by humans and managed by humans, but it could be done. The L.A. River could be surrounded by trees.

Downtown is also low on trees.



If you’ve spent any time downtown and you love trees, you will notice that many areas of the city center are treeless. There are plans on the table to build a large park downtown. There are even plans to build a giant park by putting a roof on the 101 freeway and covering it with sod.

But a simple, inexpensive, enduring-for-generations fix to the barrenness of downtown would be to plant trees now. Even if the city had to build an irrigation system for these city trees that would surely cost far less than trying to build a park on top of the 101 freeway.

Trees can save our lives because they create oxygen. As the carbon dioxide levels in our air increase thanks to our use of fossil fuels to power cars, trucks, other vehicles, and create electricity,  trees and the oxygen they make can help offset those CO2 levels.

We made this environmental mess.  We also have the power to clean it up.

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