City of Stanton Launches “Cease the Grease” Campaign

When grease, fats, and other oils are poured down kitchen drains, they tend to clog up the pipes. Many studies have shown that pouring used cooking oil down kitchen sinks can lead to clogging. This is because as the grease travels from the kitchen sink into the sewers and water treatment plants, they tend to cool, harden, and eventually build up on the pipes. They can accumulate over time and block certain pipes, causing very costly damage. Not only that, but clogging the pipes in cities can cause sewage and other wastes to be directed instead to waterways and other bodies of water, which can be harmful to both the environment and to residents of surrounding areas. On July 24, 2013, the city of Stanton officially started the “Cease the Grease” campaign with a press conference and light reception for residents. Although it shares the same name as a Dallas campaign to educate residents on proper grease disposal, Stanton’s campaign takes it a step further. With local government-provided services that will actually enable residents to properly dispose of their grease, the campaign is geared to protect the environment, and reduce potential costs that can be caused by sewer and pipeline blockages. Local leaders are thinking ahead, not just to save residents tax dollars in the future, but to save the environment, as well. Residents are now encouraged to recycle fats, oils, and grease rather than risk improper disposal. They can collect their oils and grease and with the help of the Orange County Sanitation District and CR&R Environmental Services, a Stanton-based recycling company, eventually recycle the grease. Residents can call...

Sports Apparel Companies Join the Effort to be more Eco-Friendly

It is no question that climate change and global warming has been a serious threat in the last couple of years. As the threat grows, more surf, skate, and other board companies attempt to become eco-friendly. With the warmer temperatures come melting ice caps, plummeting wave heights, and the potential destruction of coastal cities, which can obliterate the sports of surfing, snowboarding, and even skateboarding altogether. Orange County boasts some of the most prominent sports apparel companies in these sports, and a lot have joined the effort to preserve the planet. A lot have implemented more eco-friendly processes and materials into their businesses, and some have even taken initiative in reporting. Many critics, however, claim that these steps toward becoming more sustainable are mere publicity tricks. Consumers are becoming more conscious of the things they buy–and that steps have been taken to produce them in more sustainable ways. At the same time, in order for businesses to move several steps forward in becoming more eco-friendly, even more steps are needed to be taken backwards financially. As appealing as having a completely zero-waste facility or using only recyclable materials may sound, it also costs a lot; and only few buyers are willing to shell out extra for such products. Thus, many companies have taken shortcuts–creating EP&Ls, Higgs Index, and other tools that report how much is being taken away, but not necessarily addressing or solving any problems. They have all entered an experimental stage, trying to see how to accurately balance pleasing their customers, helping the environment, while still making money. Perhaps, with a little more integrity, some leadership, and...

Stricter Regulations Approved for Southern California Beach Fire Rings

More than 500 fire pits dot the Southern California coast to be used by beachgoers year-round, free of charge. For many, spending the day in the water and starting a bonfire in the fire pits at night are a cheap and almost traditional way to spend summer—and definitely not something they are ready to give up anytime soon. Last month, however, the Southern Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) regulators suggested the removal or relocation of many fire pits down the Southern California coast. They claim that small particle pollution, which come from the bonfires pose a serious health risk to the residents of the beachfront houses on the coast. A study conducted has shown that the pollution from one fire pit alone is comparable to standing next to three diesel-run vehicles. Since more than one fire pit is located on each given beach—with Huntington Beach boasting over 500 fire pits on its shores—the accumulation of the small particle pollution has made beachfront residents and air regulators worried for their health. Additionally, as they are now, most of the fire pits are too close to the homes of residents; the buffer zone is less than 700 feet, especially in beaches like Newport. The air district proposed that new regulations be imposed on the fire rings. Studies supported by the air quality regulators found that over 700 feet away, the particle pollution becomes more distributed and scattered than when they are closer. This led to the proposal that fire pits must be at least 700 feet away from any residences, unless they are spaced out 100 feet apart. The new proposal...

Central OC Hosts its First Food Swap

On June 23, the first ever Central OC Food Swap occurred in Santa Ana. Started in March 2010, one of the first Food Swaps occurred in Brooklyn, initiated and led by Kate Payne, founder of the Food Swap Network, along with Emily Ho. Since then, the modern food swap movement has spread all over the United States, Canada and even abroad. The Food Swap Network acts as a worldwide registry for all Food Swap events. Most Food Swaps occur in the same format. A Food Swap is a chance for a group of people to bring homemade and homegrown goods and trade with other participants, using a barter system. They are recurring events in certain neighborhoods or regions. The Food Swap usually lasts for two hours, with anywhere from 5 to as many as 40 participants. The Swap starts with 30 minutes of greetings, introductions and set up. The next hour is dedicated to sampling of the different goods and participants write their names on lists of items they are interested in. The final 30 minutes of the Food Swap is when the actual swapping and trading begins. Conceptualized by Sarah Whittenberg and supported by Slow Food Orange County and the Orange County Food Access Coalition, the Central OC Food Swap boasted nearly 20 registered participants; a huge number for its first time. With participants coming from all over the county, one even traveling 70 miles from Rainbow, Calif., the Food Swap had a huge variety of homemade and homegrown goods. There were stone fruits, rosemary jellies and even some plants. There were vegetables from a community garden, different...

Energy Efficiency Investments : The Safest Type of Investment

Finance guru Zvi Bodie had recently claimed that the best and safest investments are on I-bonds, inflation-adjusted bonds from the US government. This means that the rate of interest is guaranteed to be at least the rate of inflation. They are backed with the credit and full faith of the US government for 30 years, and can be cashed out anytime with the security that it is adjusted and the purchasing power has been maintained. In response to this article, however, one Hilton Dier, owner of Renewable Energy Designs, argues that it is not the safest investment out there. Instead, he claims that energy efficiency investments have the best return, and are the safest type of investment. First, he stresses that this type of investment only works for people who own property–homes or businesses–but does not work for people who rent. One of the key points that he underlines is that investments do not necessarily mean earning money, but can also mean saving money. If you save $100 on an electric bill, for example, it is the same as earning $100 on an investment, but perhaps even better, since saved money is not taxable. He also adds that just as I-bonds are inflation-adjusted, so are personal energy investments. In fact, it might be well over than just inflation-adjusted since it seems that the cost of energy–all the different kinds–is going up faster than inflation. So, the money saved in the first year, is guaranteed to adjust in the next year, as the costs go up and efficiency lowers the money spent. Finally, perhaps the biggest advantage of energy efficiency...

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Closes After Months of Inactivity

Southern California Edison announced on June 7 that it will be permanently closing the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant. The nuclear power plant has been up and running for over four decades, but has not been generating any energy since January 2012. The plant’s first unit started operating in 1968 and has since added two more units. Shortly before the plant shut down in early 2012, the plant underwent some renovations, in which Mitsubishi Heavy Industries replaced the generators’ equipment. Soon after, damage was found in one of the pipes and discovered to be leaking small amounts of radioactive steam. Although the leak was minimal, it was found to be very harmful to residents of the area and the plant was requested to be immediately shut down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Since then, the plant has not been generating energy for Southern California residents. Between the time that the nuclear plant was shut down until Edison International’s official announcement of its permanent closure, the plant spent more than $500 million to compensate for the loss of energy generated by the nuclear plant. According to this same Los Angeles Times article, the plant had stayed closed due to a long, inconclusive battle between Southern California Edison, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who refused to allow the plant to reopen. Heavy opposition from residents and the general public had added additional stress to the issue. This process, from replacing the motors to maintaining the plant even after it was shut down, had cost Southern California Edison over $2 billion. This, along with the unlikelihood that the plant would be approved...