Category Archives: Water/Oceans

Free Green Living Workshops in Santa Monica

all-greenFREE  GREEN  WORKSHOPS

Workshops will be held:

SM Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street @ Ocean Park
Santa Monica, CA 90405

January 24, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 1
Green Living

This workshop on Green Living, will help lay the foundation to create your green abode
– whether you own or not. Learn the simple ways to make your home energy and
water efficient while eliminating toxins and drastically improving indoor air quality!

The workshop will cover a DIY cleaning product demo, lecture, and interaction with the
audience.

I will provide all attendees with an E-Book on all material covered as well as local
resources!

January 31, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 2
Green Decor

Few people are aware, that just as in our homes as our workplace, there is an
opportunity to choose objects and products that do not pollute our homes and are
harmful to us and the environment.

Learn how to decorate your home in a way that improves your indoor air quality, and
your overall state of being, by pairing down on clutter and waste, eliminating toxins,
and breathing in a new breathe of fresh air into your home!

I will provide a basis of information that will help guide you in a direction of knowing
what questions to ask from your suppliers and manufacturers to insure that the
materials and finishes you choose for your home are environmentally sound.

There will be samples and materials incorporated, to provide a better understanding for
greening your decor!


Februray 07, 2009 @ 2:00 PM
Part 3
Green Landscaping/Gardening

A basic introduction, offering everything you wanted to know about greening your
garden and landscaping!

This workshop will provide an introduction to Permaculture and good gardening
practices, that you can begin implementing in your green space today!

Information will be provided on local programs, through Santa Monica, on sustainable
gardening and landscaping.

Learn simple tools that will help you save time, money, water and energy in your
garden!

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Salmon Protection in Sonoma County

Watershed

The WATER Institute web video, Your Salmon Creek, is available with some amazing underwater footage of habitat restoration and rehabilitation.

This is a, below-the-scenes, look at the historic reintroduction of the endangered Coho Salmon to the Salmon Creek Watershed in Sonoma County, CA.  Experts reveal, why Coho are disappearing, and why you should care…

Watch to see how protecting your home, your land and your family can improve your environment and the endangered species in your area.

Know and protect your watershed today!

What is a watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that catches rainfall and other precipitation and funnels it into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. There is a direct link between what we do on the land and the health of our watersheds and the quality of the water in our waterways. Those watersheds that are forested offer a wide array of benefits. Healthy urban and rural forested watersheds absorb rainfall and snow melt, slow storm runoff, recharge aquifers, sustain stream flows, filter pollutants from the air and runoff before they enter the waterways; and provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife. In addition, forested watersheds provide abundant recreational opportunities, help support local economies, provide an inexpensive source of drinking water, and improve the quality of our lives.

Through the use of forests and forestry practices applied on a watershed basis, we can provide cumulative water quality benefits and offer low cost, long term solutions to many of the nation’s nonpoint source pollution problems.

Calender of Events in The World Of Green – Winter 2009

January 15 Green Building Workshop (Brooklyn, NY)

Time: 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: LC 400, Dibner Library Building   5 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn, NY
A workshop that brings industry researchers and developers of green buildings technologies, entrepreneurs, investors, representatives from green buildings and sustainability initiatives, regulators, architects and building designers.

I will be speaking on ‘Integrating Green Building in the Urban Environment’

at 9:55 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.

January 24  – Green Living Workshop  – Part 1  (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street   Santa Monica, CA 90405
This workshop on Green Living, will help lay the foundation to create your green abode – whether you own or not.  Learn the simple ways to make your home energy and water efficient while eliminating toxins and drastically improving indoor air quality!

The workshop will cover a DIY cleaning product demo, lecture, and interaction with the audience.

I will provide all attendees with an E-Book on all material covered as well as local resources!

January 25 –   Go Green Expo –  (Los Angeles, CA)

Time –  10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Location: The Los Angeles Convention Center
1201 South Figueroa Street   Los Angeles, CA 90015

Go Green Expo is a showcase for earth-friendly products and services – a trade show that wholly focused on green living.

I will be on the panel for Green Building and Design on the tradeshow floor on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

January 31  – Green Decor Workshop  – Part 2 (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street   Santa Monica, CA 90405

Few people are aware, that just as in our homes as our workplace, there is an opportunity to choose objects and products that do not pollute our homes and are harmful to us and the environment.

Learn how to decorate your home in a way that improves your indoor air quality, and your overall state of being, by pairing down on clutter and waste, eliminating toxins, and breathing in a new breathe of fresh air into your home!

I will provide a basis of information that will help guide you in a direction of knowing what questions to ask from your suppliers and manufacturers to insure that the materials and finishes you choose for your home are environmentally sound.

There will be samples and materials incorporated, to provide a better understanding for greening your decor!

February 07 – Green Landscaping Workshop  – Part 3  (Santa Monica, CA)

Time: 2:00 PM
Location: Santa Monica Public Library (Ocean Park Branch)

2601 Main Street Santa Monica, CA 90405

A basic introduction, offering everything you wanted to know about greening your garden and landscaping!

This workshop will provide an introduction to Permaculture and good gardening practices, that you can begin implementing in your green space today!  Learn simple tools that will help you save time, money, water and energy in your garden!

Information will be provided on local programs, through Santa Monica, on sustainable gardening and landscaping.

Lawns

img_36461
In recent decades, there has been an anti-lawn movement; stemming from the desire to wake up Americans to the reality that keeping up with the Jones’s, truly isn’t a satisfactory way of living.

So, what is wrong with lawns, anyway?  Aside, from being water and energy intensive, lawns are usually sprayed with a cocktail of herbicides and pesticides, in order to, maintain that rolling carpet appeal – year round.  Ironically, most grass grown in the United States is not native to our country, resulting in habitat destruction nationwide.

Lawns in front of American homes are a ubiquitous element.  For over a century, it has represented a lot more than domesticated turf; symbolizing wealth, conformity and class.  Annually Americans spend approximately 40 billion dollars on their lawns, on an area which spans about fifty thousand square miles; estimated to be about the size of New York State.

As most lawns are laden with these toxins, they are not simply effecting the lawn in which it is defused in, but in reality, an entire eco system – an effect so large it is virtually impossible to quantify the ramifications.

Herbicides and pesticides are petroleum based products, making them naturally toxic produce, apply and discard.  In addition, the wide array of chemicals in these products have been known to cause cancer, effect the central nervous system, cause deformities in fetuses, harm pets, children and adults, as well as cause death.

One of the most common popular herbicides sold today is 2,4-dichlorephenoxyacetic or 2,4-D, as it is more commonly known, is one of the key ingredients in Agent Orange.  After having seen the ongoing destruction that it has caused human life and the eco system in Vietnam, how is such a product still on the shelves, and worst, on our lawns where our children and our pets play.

These products are designed to enforce plants to artificially bloom out of season that results in the plant building a natural protection from these chemicals, eventually creating a resistance, therefore requiring more potent chemicals.

These chemicals, in turn, are a detriment to all plant, insect and animal life in its perimeter; killing what is beneficial to local regions, through nitrogen fixing, maintaining biodiversity or pollinating.

When herbicides and/or pesticides are released into the environment they seep into the ground, immediately effecting our ground water and our aquifers – directly effecting our drinking water.  New York City residents do not have lawns, yet drink chemical laden water.  In 2002 thirty-seven pesticides were traced in waterways leading to the Croton River Watershed – a clear indication of serious contamination.

After irrigating or after a rain, all these chemicals are washed into the storm drains and straight into our oceans.  For cities whose drains end up at treatment plant, these chemicals are not broken down and still end up in our oceans, rivers and streams.

These excess nutrient based products cause areas in our aquatic systems that result in algae blooms, which deprive our bodies of water of oxygen, creating dead zones – areas where no life can thrive.  Dead zones have become a recurring problem in the Gulf Coast, off the coast of Texas, where all plant and aquatic life in that region ceases to exist.  This is a serious problem that is drastically effecting our fishing industries, and in turn our food supply.

On a more philosophical level, lawns represent constraint, enforced conformity and repression.  Lawns represent monocultures – the antitheses of what our country embodies – diversity.  Mowing a lawn physically prevents the opportunity of sexual reproduction in the plant kingdom.

So, if not lawns, then what?  There are several alternatives to the old American lawn, some options may require more work than others, ultimately, it depends on your desire and aesthetic.  One probable and logical solution is eliminating the lawn completely and designing a food forest.  It is estimated that a standard yard can yield several hundred pounds of fruits and vegetables per year.  Don’t have an inclination to be self sufficient and grow your own food?  Consider creating a natural habitat with local flora and fauna that does not require the usual copious amounts of pesticides, herbicides, water and energy.

Another option is the idea of a Freedom Lawn.  It is a concept that emerged in the early ’90’s, that allows nature to take her course, naturally.  It consists of seed grass and a variety of other grass-like elements that occur only in their natural state.  It is more water and energy tolerant and may require less mowing since it probably looks best with a cushion.  When mowed, it is preferred to be done with a push-mower.

Just imagine the elimination of all those gas guzzling, noise polluting nature repressing tools – how lovely life would be!

What’s a Natural History Museum in the 21st century?

In September, the world welcomed, the most cutting edge state of the art
science museum, known as The California Academy of Sciences.  Located in the midst of Golden Gate Park in San Francisco; standing as a beacon representing the only museum that houses a planetarium, a natural history museum and an aquarium.

Aside from, the visual aesthetic that it embodies, it is a living building.  It operates with the rhythms of the day and the seasons of the year – using minimal amounts of energy and water to operate, while using maximum sunlight and natural ventilation.

In addition to photovoltaic panels that generate its own energy, the museum also operates like a smart building.   The museum naturally breathes by having a 2.5 acre living roof – which serves as a habitat for local flora and fauna, insulation, storm water run off control and, in addition, to controlling the interior comfort of the building.
Its two signature hills, with pierced openings, allow for a stacked effect to take place – releasing the building of hot air, while providing it with fresh cool air through various vents throughout the building supplying it with 40% of natural ventilation.

This museum serves as a hybrid of the natural and the synthetic.  A brilliant example of nature and man at its best.

There are microclimates created throughout the museum, taking visitors on a journey from the area’s local habitats, to murky swamps with albino alligators, to rain forest canopies with fluttering birds and butterflies, all the way to a space journey 16 million light years away.  It is an extraordinary experience that plays on the senses – visually and literally.

One of the impressive characteristics that was restored, from the original museum built in 1923, is a 3.5 mile pipeline that transports fresh seawater from Ocean Beach  – located at the end of Golden Gate Park to the museum.  It is an elements that enriches the tide pools and the essence of a natural museum.

Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the iconic red elevator takes visitors through the various levels is one of his signatures, also found in LACMA in Los Angeles, a museum also designed by Piano.

During one the preliminary meetings about the future of the museum, when it initially closed for renovation 9 years ago, one of the resident scientist proposed the simple question “ What’s a Natural History Museum in the 21st century?”  It was a question that lead to the work of art we currently we have today.  A brilliant example how simply questioning what we do, can lead to extraordinary things.

The Academy is slated to be awarded a Platinum LEED certification – the largest pubic building to receive such a certification.

Plastic is a Faux Pas

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So Plastic is a faux pas?  But isn’t one of man’s best 20th c. inventions?  Perhaps, but that is debatable.  Yes, it has endless benefits in the medical field and various other industries …. but, could it be that we, as a race, are addicted to it?

I strongly believe we are.

Plastic is the general common term for a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solid materials suitable for the manufacture of industrial products.

It is malleable allowing itself to be cast, pressed, or extruded into an enormous variety of shapes and products—such as film, fibers, cups, plates, phones, zip lok bags, computers, bottles, boxes, and of course so much more.

So what is the problem with plastic, anyways?

In reality this is a two fold issue that remains very hidden from many peoples’ consciousness  –  it is both environmental and health related.

Whether we are aware of this or not, both, our health and our environment are in peril –  because of our abuse and addiction to plastic.

Just stop and think, virtually everything we use in our lives, on a daily basis, is a derivative of plastic.

A material that does not have the same recyclable rate, that most people believe to be true that could actually justify how much of it they use.

Plastic is everywhere!  Its an inevitable fact, and the ghost of the industrial revolution that will be haunting us for millennia to come.

The tide of plastic has been rising in shores all over the world – from our beaches in Santa Monica to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean to even uninhabited places like the Arctic.

Although many American beaches — may not display the reality what is happening in our oceans, I invite you to go down to the shore, the morning after a rain, and you will see the evidence of our civilization.

Evidence, that if not picked up before the high tide by volunteer beach clean up, will end up in our oceans.

There is an expression  –  out sight out of mind.

The problem with that frame of mind, is that people continue to forget that will live on this planet together – and everything is effected – maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually.

All this plastic and litter has been creating islands of garbage all throughout our oceans.

We have one, a mere 1000 miles from our shores in an area known as the North Pacific Gyre, this garbage island has sweetly dubbed The Garbage Patch.

I have a sample of that water here with me.  As you will notice there are particles of plastic floating along with the plankton ….
currently, plastic outweighs plankton 24:1

So what does that mean?  That our birds and fish are eating this plastic mistaking it for jelly fish and plankton, amongst other things.

In turn, we are eating these fish and inadvertently consuming the residue of these chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins and other chemical pollutants.

As humans, being on top of the food chain, chemicals bio-accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals, and it accumulates as it rises on the food chain; breast milk being on the top of our food chain.  Leaving us at the mercy of our own vices.

In the past year there has been a lot of buzz in reference to plastic drinking bottles and the chemicals that are known to leach out of them.

The compound bisphenol A also known as BPA has been is widely used in the production of transparent plastic bottles, tin cans, and soft drinks.

Unfortunately, this chemical has been known to mimic the female hormone oestrogen, which leads some scientists to believe that it may cause damage to an unborn baby’s growing sex organs as well as imbalance the hormones of adults, raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility, cause a higher incidence of miscarriage, and reduce sperm count amongst many other health risks.

The United States currently has one of the highest rates of infant mortality for a first world country, in addition to, unusual infertility rates.

So what exactly does BPA do?  It mimics naturally occurring estrogen, a hormone that is part of the endocrine system, the body’s finely tuned messaging service, these hormones control the development of the brain, the reproductive system and many other systems.

Phthalates are a group of widely used chemicals that make plastic softer and help stabilize fragrance in personal care products.

Found in:

Soaps, lotions and perfumes, fragrances, deodorant, perfume, children’s toys, infant care products, cosmetics, food packaging, vinyl flooring, blood storage containers, teethers, toys, and food wrap, toothbrushes

So how does one become exposed?  Its actually really easy and may happen on a daily basis if you are unaware.  Phthalate which can migrate into food from certain food wraps during storage with common plastic containers, Zip Lok bags, and Seran Wrap.

This is a chemical that is so widely used, and rarely spoken about yet should be something every America should be aware of.

It causes Infertility, birth defects and other malformations of the male reproductive tract.

Phthalates may adversely affect male reproductive function at levels commonly found in people. Young infants and fetuses are most vulnerable to the potential adverse effects of phthalates.

High phthalate levels cause feminized genitals in baby boys. Prenatal phthalate exposure has been linked with incomplete testicular descent and smaller penises in male babies. The study also found more than 80 percent of infants tested had been exposed to phthalates.

The EU has ban some phthalates from cosmetics and toys, and California banned the chemicals from baby toys – but phthalates are legal to use in personal care products sold in the United States, and there are no requirements to label products for phthalate content.

In this country new born infants are born with over 300 chemicals in their bodies.

An alarming number that should make every single one of us be more aware of our use and abuse of plastic.

So what does one do?

Buy glass instead of plastic jar products (i.e. peanut butter jars, etc)
Do not store or heat food in plastic
Volunteer for beach clean-ups
Eliminate your need for single use plastic bottles – use a stylized  reusable bottle instead!
Avoid plastic – find alternatives
Educate others

So next time you are asked in the market whether you want PAPER OR PLASTIC – proudly say neither, and make the conscious realization that one is derived from living trees and the other is non-biodegradable petro based product!

The Los Angeles River

img_46061Breaking news – there is a river in Los Angeles, who knew?

For thousands of years, the Los Angeles river was a large meandering natural river, that was an indispensable source of water and life for inhabitants in the area.

Native Americans began inhabiting the area some 9000 years ago. The pueblo of Los Angeles was established in 1781

From the beginning of time this river was unique, not only in its richness in flora and fauna, but also in its topography.  The problem laid in the fact that the river did not run inside of a natural channel – as most rivers do.

Instead, the river flowed over a wide area of braided channels making its way to the Pacific.  At times, the river flowed like gentle trickle, and other times, it would make its way down like a violent debris laden flood.

Thus began the challenge of man versus the natural world.

In 1913, the LA River was the sole water source for all of Los Angeles.
Southern California’s wetlands and riparian ecosystems were some of the most diverse and productive habitats on the West Coast –  with a myriad of native plant and animal species.   It is estimated that today

80 – 90% historical wetlands lost
90 – 95% California’s Riparian Ecosystem destroyed

Today, the concrete channel you see, was at one point in recent history, a combination of arroyos, swamps, seasonal marshes, meadows, streams, perennial freshwater ponds and creeks.

The river became a critical element in the founding of our grand city.  It gave rise to a thriving farming community growing corn, wheat, and grapes, amongst other things.

As the population of the city began to grow, it naturally occurred over the river’s natural floodplain.

But, with the arrival of the Europeans and the development of the city, change was inevitable.

The lower Los Angeles River was part of one of the largest floodplains in the United States.

In the late 30’s, after numerous catastrophic floods and in an attempt to dominate nature, and succumbing to the pressures of land use population growth urbanization;The US Army Corp of Engineers, claimed one of their largest feats in their history, to channelize this natural beast in concrete.

By 1954 the entire length of the river was channelized.

It took 30 years and 3.5 million barrels of concrete to channelize the river and its tributaries.

When it was completed, it was no longer referred to a river, anymore. but was renamed the Los Angeles River Flood Control Channel.

Historically, much of the water that flowed through the valley seeped into the ground to fill the giant underground aquifer that has supplied water to Los Angeles for over a hundred years.

Today, LA receives only 15% of water supplied by rain in the form of groundwater.

With the Valley being over 60% hard surfaces; rainwater is directed to storm drains that empty directly into the river, which ends up in our oceans, untreated.

Storm water run off is any kind of water that runs off city streets, either from sprinklers, hoses, or rain.  It collects debris, litter, feces and heavy metals from our tires and ends up in our storm drains, and again, into our oceans, contaminating them.

Due to this runoff from dense clusters of industrial and residential activity, our river is contaminated with ammonia, metals, coliform, trash, algae, oil, pesticides, and volatile organics.

The Los Angeles River flows 52 miles through some the most diverse communities in Southern California, just imagine if we were viewed as a riverside community?

During the dry summer months there is little activity that permeates from our encased river, although come winter it can become a river filled with racing waters.

The Los Angeles River has a compelling history and innate natural beauty of which many Angelenos are unaware.

Although only 52 miles long, the L.A. River has a significant drop of 795 feet in elevation.

There are twenty-two dams or diversion structures, and no part of the River remains in a native state; every reach of the river has been altered and engineered.

There are many restoration efforts to bring back the vitality of our river to its natural state.

Just as the destruction of Penn Station has been considered one of America’s historical atrocities, so has the destruction of Los Angeles River.

We are daily reminded of one of man’s miscalculated achievements.

Perhaps, both of these examples can demonstrate how man’s ego can get in the way of preserving both natural and man made wonders.