Heat records were broken across the West in August, straining the energy grid and causing rolling blackouts. Unprecedented wildfires then tore across California, Oregon and Washington, blanketing over 70 million Americans in some of the worst air quality in the world for weeks, and forcing tens of thousands to evacuate their homes. And all this amidst an ongoing pandemic and economic crisis.
As Californians were experiencing in real life what climate scientists have been forecasting for years -- more extreme heat, drought, poor air quality, and wildfire risk -- the California State Legislature accomplished little of substance on climate issues in its abbreviated 2020 legislative session. Yet again oil, plastics and other industry groups were successful at stopping the few efforts at meaningful action on these issues, notwithstanding the fact that the scientific consensus is that things will NOT get better unless we act more forcefully. The price tag for this failure in leadership is shockingly high when one considers the long-term ramifications of further inaction.
Below is a recap of how things shook out after the end of the legislative session on August 31, 2020. Passed bills now await signature (or veto) by the Governor. To help the bills that passed - including AB 1788, AB 1851, AB 2345, and SB 288 - get over the finish line, please submit notes of support to the Governor via this form. Brief comments are sufficient, just be sure to select the Bill number from the drop-down menu).
The team at ActiveSGV would like to thank everyone who took the time to call and email your State Assembly Members and Senators over the past few months. Those calls are important, and will be even more important next year. Momentum for action is growing in light of unprecedented fires, which are often followed by more extreme flooding. However before all that is an incredibly important general election. As the most recent state legislative session illustrated, who represents us at the local, state, and national level matters. A lot. Now is a great time to make sure you and friends and family are ready to vote. ActiveSGV's VoteSGV page includes lots of information to help get you started, including how to make sure you address is current, how to sign up to track your ballot, responses to candidate surveys, and ballot measure endorsements.
We know you're used to hearing from Active SGV online on a regular basis... From Facebook posts, IG stories and DMs, to the newsletter--we talk with y'all a lot! But did you know that the person behind all those photos and posts is our Communications Manager, Andrea Jaramillo?! She's been working with Active for a year (exactly a year + some change!), quietly behind the scenes to help share Active's message. So next time you get a message from us, chances are it's her! Get to know Andrea below.
How did you get your start at Active SGV?
I spent the last 10 years living abroad and around the US studying and working until 2018, when I moved back to the SGV. Previous to moving, I lived in Bogota, Colombia, working with indigenous communities/sustainable fashion and digital communications; I enjoyed working at a community level. I reconnected with my homegirl CarCarDiesel, (aka Carly Curiel) and she told me about ActiveSGV (even though I was working on other things at the time). Randomly, after nearly a year in LA, I was thinking of asking CarCar if her non-profit was hiring when I saw she had shared their post for the Comms Manager position. The perfect position for me to apply all my skills! The stars aligned I guess, cuz I applied, got the job and the rest is history!
What do you like most about working at Active?
What I enjoy most about working at Active is the awesome team I get to work with every day. Everyone is so passionate and genuinely cares about creating more equitable and healthier communities. We have a lot of fun on the clock and off! I also love our office! Have you been? It’s a little green space oasis!
What has been your favorite experience working here?
My favorite experience so far was at Noche de las Luminarias 2019 (our annual fundraising night), where I had a chance to see the impact Active has on our community first hand from folks around the SGV. It felt good to hear others speak so highly about the org and know that we all worked together to have an impact on our region. We also had a sweet little team afterparty, which was fun.
If a friend was visiting the SGV from out of town, how would you spend the day?
If an out of town friend comes to visit, one of the first thing’s I do with them is take them on a beautiful morning hike in the San Gabriel Mountains and spoil them with beautiful views and fresh air. If they don’t like hiking for whatever reason, I’ll take them to the Rose Bowl for an early morning run around the track. Next, I would take them to lunch at my favorite local business, Fiore Cafe (they have the BEST bread and grow many ingredients from the garden on their patio). We might spend the afternoon at the Norton Simon Museum or Huntington Gardens. I’m all about the food in the SGV, so for dinner we’d hit up central SGV for noodles… Maybe Pho somewhere on Valley or my favorite noodle spot: Noodle Harmony in Monterey Park.
What are you reading, watching, listening to or diggin' these days?
When I'm not working, I'm usually cooking. During the early days of quarantine I baked A LOT of bread, so much of my reading and watching were cooking and bread videos. I also did a deep dive into learning about natural/biodynamic wines which is a super interesting sector of agriculture and farming. Now, my boyfriend is super into fermenting (pickles, tomatoes, chilis, lots of different things!) So I've been absorbing a lot of second-hand knowledge of that.
Non-foodie reads and listens include:
-The Wangs Vs The Word, a novel by Jade Chang
-A playlist I created on Spotify called 'silk' (think neo-jazz and modern blues).
-Esperanza, a poetry zine created by my cousin Brian Leon.
-Currently taking a break from streaming TV/movies :)
Follow Andrea on Instagram here and for recipes and yummy food content, check out Tastebuds Instagram and website!
From her involvement in policy making to the Metro Service Council, Diane's work in the SGV has made her one of our region's strongest advocates for resilient communities. With a background in Public Health, she returned to the SGV in 2016 and began volunteering with BikeSGV. Since then, she's discovered environmental justice is directly linked to the community's public health and is living out her dream by helping improve her community.
1. How did you get started working at ActiveSGV (/ in this field)?
I started following BikeSGV online in 2015 when I lived in San Diego, I was happy that there was a group working to improve active transportation in the SGV, and wondered if I could get involved from afar. Life happened and I returned to the SGV in 2016 looking to work in the public health and urban planning fields, while I searched for jobs I started volunteering at BikeSGV and even continued after I was working at LAC USC Medical Hospital. Eventually there was an opportunity for me to join the team and I was happy to transition over as a full time employee. I knew that regardless of what I did professionally, I wanted to support the efforts of making the SGV more bike and pedestrian friendly, yet the more involved I became, the more I learned about environmental justice and the need to improve the layered needs of this community. I am happy I get to live out my dream of improving public health in the SGV.
2. What do you like most about ActiveSGV?
I feel privileged and honored to work in the SGV, having passionate and dedicated colleagues inspires me to continue working towards making the San Gabriel Valley a more sustainable and equitable place for everyone. There are so many perks that come with the job, like the encouragement to take the bus or ride my bike to work, being able to create the #ReadSGV book club and flexible work schedule that allows me to still pursue my personal passions. During this crazy 2020, I also value that we have challenging conversations to become a better organization, if we werent growing then we would be doing a disservice to our community.
3. Favorite and/or memorable ActiveSGV experience?
The original 18-mile 626 Golden Streets that ran from South Pasadena to Azusa will always hold a special place in my heart, the process was so new and watching staff and volunteers work together to put on such an ambitious event was inspiring. We learned so much from that experience and it solified that BikeSGV was the right place for me. As many supporters know, Brian, my brother, trained volunteers, was the Monrovia hub captain and managed to get the 501st Legion (for the Start Wars nerds) to participate in the event. Ernest Lee took a photo of Brian and I at the end of the event, looking tired but happy - it reminds me of how lucky we were to spend so much time together before his passing. I also love that he wore timbs to an open streets event! I want to express how much I appreciate the day-to-day memories we have created, "instant recess", Climate Ride, and even learning how to properly compost. I continue to grow on a personal and professional level being surrounded by people who challenge and support me through it all.
4. If a friend from out of town were to visit, which place in the SGV would you take them to and why?
This question makes me smile because many years ago during winter break my college friends and I visited each others hometowns. When they visited Baldwin park, we rode our bikes to Santa Fe Dam, bought some Baldwin Park Pizza Co., visited the first In-N-Out, and watched a movie at the Vineland Drive-In Theatre. If friends visited me again after the COVID pandemic I would have us visit the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to get some time in nature and eat more veggies :) maybe some Thien Tam in El Monte or grab a Green Juice at Jugos y Tortas La Michoacana in Baldwin Park!
5. What you're listening to/ reading/ watching/ digging right now:
I have been learning and re-learnin a lot about how to become anti-racist, how to be a better advocate, and also find ways to hold on to happiness.
Here are a few things I am digging right now:
1. Pleasure Activism, The Politics of Feeling Good by Adrienne Maree Brown (Book)
2. Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (Audio book because its dense!)
3. Miss Colombia by Lido Pimienta (Spanish album)
4. Dub Side of the Moon by Easy Star All-Stars (a literal dub raggae tribute album to Dark Side of the Moon)
Keep up with Diane on social media on Twitter and Instagram. For Metro SGV Service Council updates on twitter: @DianeVelez_SGV For pictures of my life on Instagram: @dayan.velez
Our Staff Spotlight feature is back! This month, we're featuring one of our newer Active team members, Marlene! With a passion for hiking and biking and a background in education, Marlene started to look for opportunities that would allow her to advocate for safer streets and environmental justice. It was long before she crossed paths with Active SGV, and well, the rest is history! Check out her feature below.
1. How did you get started working at Active SGV?
It started with a decision back in December 2018 that I would look for opportunities that resonated with my values and interest—being outdoors and riding my bike. At the time I did not know about ActiveSGV, or that an organization like this existed. All I knew is that I needed to be proactive in the fight for environmental justice, advocating for safer streets for cyclist and pedestrians, and healthy communities. Like many people I started searching for opportunities to get involved specifically around these issues. I briefly volunteered at organization in Downtown Los Angeles before joining the Vision Zero street team to do community outreach. I found these experiences fulfilling. A few friends shared the opportunity at ActiveSGV and thought that it would be a good fit. As I read and learned about ActiveSGV work on environmental justice, equity, and sustainability I knew that I wanted to help and be a part of this community. I was very fortunate to be invited to join.
2. What do you like most about Active SGV?
I love the passion and dedication of all my colleagues from the OG’s to the young interns. I feel inspired and energized by their leadership. It motivates me to step up my game, to grow, and to look for ways to be a better person, colleague, and advocate. Before shelter place, it was also really cool to ride bikes to events with my colleagues—some of the coolest people I know.
3. Most memorable Active SGV experience?
My favorite/memorable experience at ActiveSGV happened in February when we hosted the Emerald Necklace bike train. It was my first time doing the ride so I was really excited. I wasn’t the only one excited-- 60 people came out for the ride! The bike trains had not been done in a while, so it was nice to see a large group of people come out on a Sunday morning. After the ride a few of us went to Sweet Veggie, shout out Andrew and Amy for introducing me to this vegan/vegeterian spot! The day didn’t end there, after lunch Ed gave us a tour of his amazing backyard filled with fruit trees and let us to pick fruit to take home. It one of my favorite days so far!
4. If a friend came from out of town, where would you take them in SGV and why?
I would invite my friend for a hike on the Gabrielino Trail followed by food either at ThienTam vegetarian restaurant or Plant Love Food both offer delicious vegan/vegetarian food! I would probably also show them Jeff Seymour Family Center, it’s such a wonderful example of how to reimagine spaces to be sustainable and welcoming.
5. What are you listening to, reading, doing, digging right now?
Since shelter in place I started listening to podcast. I like stand up so a lot of the podcast I listen to are by comedians, not all but most. Here are a few of my favorite that I recommend:
1. Small Doses with Amanda Seales
2. Whitney Cummings Good For You
As part of our ongoing efforts to support our constituents during COVID-19 and promote more sustainable economies, ActiveSGV is excited to launch a program to provide businesses in unincorporated Los Angeles County a free opportunity to try out compostable foodware products.
The vast majority of takeout food containers, utensils, and other foodware products are made from petrochemicals. Yes, most plastics are made from fossil fuels. While some can technically be "recycled", foodware products generally are not as they are contaminated during use and have extremely little post-market value. As a result, in the best case scenario these products end up in landfills, worst case they are littered and find their ways into our open spaces, waterways, and oceans. It's a huge problem, and it's getting bigger as fossil fuel companies invest billions in expanding plastic manufacturing in the United States.
The Compostables Pilot Program is designed to support food-serving businesses in unincorporated Los Angeles County during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing compostable takeout foodware products at no cost for one month. Businesses located in unincorporated communities of Los Angeles County interested in participating in the program should fill out this online interest form.
For more information about the program, please contact us.
by Amy J. Wong and Diane Velez
(photo credit: Ernest Lee)
Taking a look at what is happening in the United States right now, our hearts are heavy. The United States has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world. Over 106,000 people, disproportionately Black and brown people, have died in this country from COVID-19 as of today. Billionaires like Jeff Bezos are profiting by $434 billion during this pandemic while more than 40 million people are unemployed. The Navajo nation has the highest COVID-19 infection rate in the country, but is severely underfunded, lacking the money, infrastructure and resources needed to fight the coronavirus. White people are out having brunch whereas Black people are being murdered by police across the US. We mourn for all Black lives unjustly taken away in this country.
Over the weekend, the protests against police brutality in Los Angeles were met with a hostile response from LAPD, with tear gas, rubber bullets, and arrests. On Saturday, Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a state of emergency, imposed a curfew, closed all COVID-19 testing sites in the City of LA, and requested National Guard deployment to both the City and County of Los Angeles, which Governor Newsom granted Saturday evening. It’s telling how quick our leaders are in deploying armed forces against its own people, rather than solving a public health pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black and brown communities. Additionally, Metro, the leading public transportation agency in the County, abruptly stopped service to abide by the curfew, abandoning the people they serve with no alternative or proper communication. Furthermore, Metro utilized buses to transport people that had been arrested throughout the protests, bringing into question who Metro is actually servicing and prioritizing.
This weekend, San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles County elected leaders and agencies have failed and disappointed us again. To date, San Gabriel Valley City Councilmembers and SGV representatives (ie: Congress, Assembly) largely have not stood up in support of Black lives or addressed police brutality in their own cities.
Black, Indigenous people of color are being killed by systems of oppression. Enough is enough. Our communities have been facing racism, capitalism, patriarchy, white supremacy, and anti-blackness. These issues did not emerge overnight but are the foundations in which this country was built. Our capitalist system has led us to this point.
We’ve heard people say, “we can’t wait ‘til things go back to normal”. Do we want to return to “normal”? No, returning to it would be a disservice to ourselves and our community.
The San Gabriel Valley is our home. From Pasadena to Pomona, from the San Gabriel Mountains to the Puente Hills, the SGV holds special meaning for us. We acknowledge this land belongs to the Tongva people- it is an indigenous space that has endured and continues to endure discriminatory policies and practices. Almost all of us at ActiveSGV grew up and still reside in the San Gabriel Valley, living and breathing the issues we are fighting for. And we, like many of our friends, families, and neighbors, are struggling right now, anxious and reflective about the future.
The San Gabriel Valley has a population of roughly 2 million people across 47 neighborhoods, and is the largest majority Latinx and Asian American region in the U.S., approximately 45% Latinx, and 28% Asian, as of 2010. We care most about low-income communities of color in the SGV. The violence people of color experience everyday is not just from police but from inequities in the built environment, housing, education, and more. Our communities have been suffering from high rates of pollution, rising temperatures, and lack of park space, and it’s no coincidence we’re also suffering from high rates of diabetes, asthma, obesity, and other chronic illnesses. Additionally, disabled and chronically ill people, LGBTQIA+ people, people experiencing homelessness, elderly people, undocumented people, and others experiencing multiple oppressions are made even more vulnerable by system failures.
So what do we do to move forward?
In our ideal SGV, we would transition away from an extractive economy based on profit, pollution, and exploitation of Black, Indigenous people of color. We envision a regenerative economy that is rooted in sustainability and equity, while remaining grounded to our cultural heritage and roots. We want to see a San Gabriel Valley that serves and invests in our highest-need communities first, where people and the planet are prioritized over profits; an SGV where all of us can thrive, not just survive, in.
In reality, we are not seeing a radical change in the SGV. At least, not yet. COVID-19 cases and deaths keep increasing. Upon realizing the people most impacted by COVID-19 are Black and Latinx, counties and governments shifted the tone to “save the economy” and reopen businesses. Many people of color are putting themselves at risk to provide essential services, yet aren’t getting paid enough and don’t have access to basic necessities. People are seen as expendable. How many more lives will be lost? How much of our humanity do we need to prove to deem ourselves worthy of not being sacrificed for the economy?
Achieving our vision will require a radical transformation from people at all levels- not just elected officials but all of us as community members. It is difficult to fight for a complete dismantling of current systems when we’re in a cycle of grief and anger. We’re tired. We want to be hopeful. We try our best to remain rooted, grounded in empathy, and firm in standing for values of justice and equity.
We encourage you to take a few moments and honor the 106,000+ lives lost due to COVID-19, and the Black, Indigenous people of color killed by police and systemic violence in the United States. Beyond your thoughts and prayers, we ask that you also:
The Puente Hills Landfill, nestled between the 60 and 605 freeways, closed down in 2013. Many of you may have participated in the Bike and Hike event that took 80 people up to the Puente Hills to check out the views and to learn about plans to turn it into a regional park. The former landfill would become the second largest regional park in Los Angeles County, second to only that of Griffith Park, offering 142 acres of park space.
The large regional park would contain multi-use trails, open space, educational facilities, bike parks, habitat restoration, restoration. The park also included a much needed wildlife corridor, which would help connect existing Puente hills with that of Chino Hills and the San Gabriel River.
Many communities in Los Angeles County lack the much needed open spaces for recreation and exercise and many communities in the San Gabriel Valley lack adequate park and recreational space. In nearby communities of Avocado Heights, Bassett, El Monte, La
Puente, Montebello, South El Monte, and West Whittier are all considered Park-poor (>0.3 acres per 1000 residents). Creating a large regional park in the San Gabriel Valley would help provide much needed trails and open space for surrounding communities.
ActiveSGV participated in the development of the park master plan in 2015-2016. Community members showed up to community meetings and advocated strongly for the project to turn the former landfill into a county park. As an organization, we remain particularly supportive of the development of multi-use trails, fitness stairs, and a bicycle skills park, amenities which are lacking in our region and which youth, families, and visitors of all ages and backgrounds would be able to actively or passively enjoy.
Fast forward to 2020, the Puente Hills Park Project has stalled. As a community organization committed to supporting a more sustainable and equitable San Gabriel Valley, ActiveSGV reiterates our support to improve access to vibrant parks and open space in high-need areas of the San Gabriel Valley by moving forward with the Puente Hills Landfill Park project.
Here’s our letter in support of the project to Los Angeles County:
As a place-based community organization dedicated to realizing a more sustainable, equitable, and livable San Gabriel Valley, ActiveSGV was pleased to support the Puente Hills Landfill Park Master Plan in 2016. Four years later we still strongly support moving this long-overdue project from concept to reality, including efforts to hold the Sanitation District to its formal commitment to fund development of the new park, in exchange for the permit to operate what was the largest landfill in the entire United States for several decades.
ActiveSGV strongly encouraged community participation in the development of the park master plan in 2015-2016, and were heartened to see elements such as open space, wildlife corridors, a nature center, public art, fitness stairs, bike skills features, a concert area, recreational trails, and playgrounds elevated into the final plan. As an organization, we remain particularly supportive of the development of multi-use trails, fitness stairs, and a bicycle skills park, amenities that are lacking in our region and which youth, families, and visitors of all ages and backgrounds will be able to actively or passively enjoy.
Many communities in the San Gabriel Valley lack adequate park and recreational space. The nearby communities of Avocado Heights, Bassett, El Monte, La Puente, Montebello, South El Monte, and West Whittier are all considered park-poor. This lack of recreational space and amenities contributes to local health disparities including obesity, diabetes, and poor mental health. Due to the proximity of the Puente Hills to these communities and the diverse mix of facilities proposed, the project has the potential to address some of these community conditions by creating a regional park that is accessible for all.
As a community organization committed to supporting a more sustainable and equitable San Gabriel Valley, ActiveSGV strongly supports efforts to improve access to vibrant parks and open space in high-need areas of the San Gabriel Valley.
Want to see this park project become a reality? Here are ways you can help.
Write an email, letter, or call your County Supervisor to voice your support of the project. Unsure what district you live in? Find out here.
District 1 - Supervisor Hilda Solis
District 2 - Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
District 3 - Supervisor Sheila Kuehl
District 4 - Supervisor Janice Hahn
District 5 - Supervisor Kathryn Barger
If you have any questions regarding our support for efforts to move this project forward, please contact us at 626-667-9588 or via email at info@activeSGV.org.
Fifty years ago an estimated 20 million Americans came together to celebrate the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. A half a century later we are still faced with serious environmental and health challenges, from an accelerating Climate Crisis to a global pandemic which has touched people around in the world in the span of only a few months.
In light of the current crisis and the cancellation of public Earth Month events, ActiveSGV has curated a list of actions individuals can safely take amidst COVID-19 Stay-At-Home orders. Many of these suggestions are also great ways to improve one’s health and save money in the short and long-term, a welcome benefit in uncertain times when many people are facing financial hardships.
But do individual actions matter? While state and national-level systems change is absolutely needed to address the #ClimateCrisis, there are things each and every one of us can do to help move things forward, from adjusting our purchasing habits to engaging with action-oriented groups. Social scientists have found that when one person makes a sustainability-oriented decision, other people do too. For example, studies have discovered that when people are informed that others they know have reduced how much meat they ate for environmental and health reasons, they are more likely to emulate their peers. Other researchers have found similar effects for people who have started traveling more locally to avoid flying.
Whether we recognize it or not, most people are constantly evaluating the choices others are making -- whether it be the cars they are driving, the clothes they are wearing, or water bottles they are using -- and adjusting their behaviors. When we see our friends, family, and colleagues taking action to save energy, reduce single-use plastic, or adopt a healthier, more active lifestyle, we are more likely to do so, too.
At a time when we’re all making dramatic changes to our lives to confront an immediate threat to our health and well-being, we have a unique opportunity to step back and examine what we value and what we truly need. We hope these 50 tips for 50 years will provide some inspiration to support a healthier future for all as many of us have to Stay-at-Home to protect our community now.
Actions are roughly organized based on their relative impact, with tips based on research by the Union of Concerned Scientists, the climate solutions book Drawdown, other community action groups, and people who care in the San Gabriel Valley!
Got other tips? We'd love to hear them! Please share them with us on social media by tagging us @activeSGV and using the hashtags #EarthMonthSGV and #SustainableSGV. Also please share your efforts with us for a chance to win! At the end of the month we'll randomly select folks who highlighted steps they took in April 2020 for prizes, including gift certificates to SGV restaurants that are doing their best to adopt greener business practices!
1. Switch to a renewable energy option through your utility or a certified renewable energy provider. Local examples include Southern California Edison’s Green Rate program (allows you to purchase 50% or 100% green power), Pasadena’s Green Power program, and the Clean Power Alliance, which serves an array of SGV communities including Alhambra, Arcadia, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena, Temple City, and unincorporated LA County.
2. Ride more, drive less! Switch your car for a bike, scooter, skateboard, or other active mode. Need to carry heavy loads (e.g. children), live in a hilly neighborhood, or not as spry as you once were? Electric-assist bicycles, scooters, and other “micro-mobility” options are also incredibly energy-efficient compared to operating a several ton vehicle. They’re also super fun to use and great for hot days! Already doing this? Consider ditching your car altogether and save big on registration, insurance, maintenance, and payments. A 2017 study that ranked 148 individual actions on climate change according to their impact found going car-free was the number-one most effective action an individual could take.
3. Calculate your carbon footprint and buy carbon offsets from a certified provider. You can edit/reduce payments any time.
4. Adopt a more minimalist lifestyle. Less is more! Free up space in your home, life, and mind by decluttering and donating unneeded items. If you’re stuck at home anyway now’s your chance to rethink your space. Need inspiration? There’s a ton online, from the Netflix series “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” to countless websites dedicated to organizing.
5. Carefully consider major purchases and life-decisions. Moving? Check the walk score of the neighborhoods you’re considering (if you have options). Buying a major appliance? Check its energy star score. Looking for furniture, a bike or car? Buy, borrow, or rent whenever possible.
6. Vote for eco-friendly candidates and get involved with their campaigns. Many groups evaluate and rate candidates on their environmental track records, including the Sunrise Movement, League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club. Follow and support these candidates however you can, whether via social media, making a donation, and/or volunteering for their campaigns. 2020 is a BIG election year, as you know!
7. Reduce your energy use at home.
8. Hang clothes to dry and wash your clothes in cold water. Most dryers and water heaters are still gas powered.
9. Switch to more efficient LED light bulbs. LEDs (light emitting diodes) use up to 80 percent less energy and last as much as 25 times longer than traditional incandescent light bulbs.
10. Plug electronics into power strips and switch off when not in use.
11. Eat more plants, and less meat. It’s better for your health and the planet. It’s also more affordable! The food industry, especially the meat and dairy sectors, is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHGs); if cows were their own nation, they would be the world’s third largest emitter of GHGs, after China and the US. Why? Cows produce lots of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. We generally feed them other potential sources of food for people, including corn and soy. Last but not least, they require lots of water and land, some of which come from cleared forests, another source of carbon emissions. This doesn’t mean you have to go vegetarian or vegan. Just by reducing your meat consumption in half, you can cut your diet's carbon footprint by more than 40%.
12. Make #MeatlessMondays a habit! One way to start reducing meat consumption is to make it a habit. Set a weekly reminder on your calendar. Invite your friends and family. Make a standing online dinner date with friends, so long as we have to be physically distant. Check out their website including lots of recipe tips.
13. Insulate your home. Install new insulation and weatherstripping, especially for doors, windows, attic, etc.
14. Reduce water use (and save money!) Limit showers to 3-7 minutes (use a timer). Check for leaks. Upgrade to water-efficient shower and faucet heads, toilets, washing machines, etc.
15. Minimize food waste (and save money!) by planning out meals ahead of time, and freezing as much as possible (no plastic needed!).
16. Compost your food waste. Collect kitchen scraps and use them to feed a garden. Turn waste into fertilizer!
17. Buy locally-sourced, plant-based, unprocessed foods from local farmers via local farmers markets (most are still open) and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) such as Farm Fresh to You and Good Life Organics. Support green restaurants and health food stores.
18. Fly less (easier right now, we know!), and if you must fly, purchase carbon offsets for your flight.
19. Donate financially (or time) to a climate action organization or movement. Local groups include Climate Plan, Climate Resolve, and East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice.
20. Plant or adopt a young street tree in your neighborhood. Water it during the coming summer months to help it survive and mature.
21. Switch to reusable cloth napkins and ditch those single-use paper napkins and towels.
22. Shop secondhand first. Before shopping for new clothes or other items, try your local thrift store for awesome finds first. Inexpensive, low quality “fast fashion” and similar items often are discarded or fall apart after short periods.
23. Reduce the amount of plastic in your life. Almost all plastics are made from fossil fuels and remain mostly non-recyclable (except for numbers 1-2).
24. Host a virtual junk mail reduction party with your friends and family via an online platform such as Zoom or Google Hangouts!
25. Make your own natural cleaning products out of simple ingredients like vinegar and lemon juice to reduce the amount of chemicals that pollute our water and reduce the number of plastic bottles.
26. Choose quality, long-lasting products when buying new.
27. Say no to Palm Oil to help protect rainforest trees and endangered wildlife. The development of palm oil plantations is resulting in massive rainforest destruction around the world. It’s as easy as checking the list of ingredients when you buy processed foods such as oreos and instant ramen.
28. Use less gas by cooking with electric appliances such as an electric kettle or pressure cooker.
29. Use Ecosia as your web search engine. They donate 80% or more of their profits to organizations focused on planting trees and run their servers on 100% renewable energy. Read more about them on wikipedia.
30. Buy tissue paper made from recycled paper or bamboo.
"Beg Buttons" Be Gone!
A growing number of communities including the Cities of Pasadena and Los Angeles have automated pedestrian signal timing at signalized crossings to eliminate the need for people to press the “Beg Button”.
This simple step is especially needed amidst COVID-19 as more SGV residents rely on walking to maintain their physical and mental health, and we all try to reduce our exposure to the virus by avoiding frequently touched surfaces. However automating the signals for pedestrians isn’t enough if the change is not apparent to the public. Simple, multilingual signage should be paired with this action to communicate the change. The buttons themselves should also by physically covered to further reduce the chances people will press them.
To support this effort, ActiveSGV’s very own Andrew Fung Yip has created a sample template flyer (above) that communities can modify and use, already translated into Spanish and Chinese. Our team may even be able help those who are unable to do so on their own personalize theirs by adding city logos. Please email requests here. Source files are available for download here.
Support Your Neighbors
Thankfully Los Angeles County and state of California as a whole has made progress in fighting COVID-19 by taking decisive, early action. However with at least another month of Safer-at-Home requirements ahead of us, followed by an indeterminate amount of time of further restrictions as some segments of the economy are permitted to re-open, we will need to continue to support our most vulnerable neighbors.
The team at ActiveSGV has been heartened by community efforts to step up in a time of crisis. From the Healthy LA Coalition that has brought together almost 200 community-based organizations (including ActiveSGV) to advocate for policy protections for everyone in Los Angeles City and County (you can support/follow them too), to the efforts of local cities and groups like "We Love Long Beach" that have coordinated neighborhood level actions, it is clear that we are all stronger when we come together.
To further support individual level support networks, we have translated the excellent postcards that "We Love Long Beach" and the City of Long Beach have distributed over the past several weeks to help Long Beach residents help one another into Chinese.
If you have neighbors that might need additional help in the weeks and months ahead, please feel free to print, fill-out, and drop cards off. Source files are available for download here.
Adriana (known by many as AP) is one of the smiling faces you'll encounter at any of our outreach events. Get to know her below:
1. How did you get started working at ActiveSGV (/ in this field)?
My work at ActiveSGV actually started nine years ago, by way of Day One and my amazing co-workers there. I had the great fortune of starting my work in the field of public health through this organization back when I was just beginning to understand what impacts our communal health. I understood that public policy was the only way to make sustainable improvements in our neighborhoods. For years I had been organizing in my hometown (shout out Pomona!) and knew that it was the very people in our neighborhoods who were experts and would be the greatest forces for change-- they just needed the tools! Through Day One not only did I learn a lot about the field, but more importantly, I made lasting relationships to great visionaries in the SGV that I'm fortunate enough to continue to call colleagues and mentors.
2. What do you like most about ActiveSGV?
I love that I get to work with an amazing group of people from different backgrounds and perspectives that all share a goal to make the SGV a better place to live and enjoy. They are people that understand the magnitude of our global and regional actions around climate change, building environment and policy frameworks. Everyone on our team brings something different to the table making it a great team to be a part of.
3. Favorite and/or memorable ActiveSGV experience?
About 7 years ago, I participated in my first Bike Train and have loved them ever since! Of all the things we do, I think those rides with so many happy, excited people are my highlight every time. There's just something special about being a part of a group like that and experiencing the SGV on a bicycle, there's just nothing like it. You can really discover a place for the first time even though you may have driven past it for years. If you ever need a pick-me-up, bring a portable speaker, bike bells, a water bottle, a flag, and join 60 bike riders - there's nothing like it.
4. If a friend from out of town were to visit, which place in the SGV would you take them to and why?
I love our office site so I'd definitely show that off and then head to the Emerald Necklace for a quick ride. We'd make our way to Pomona and I'd show them our Downtown area, grab a Cafe de Olla Latte at Mi Cafecito, pop in to say hi at Cafe con Libros and grab some delicious vegan food at Mi Borreguita. What makes the SGV so special are the great people that call it home and I'd want to introduce them to those most special to me. As all of my Pomona tours end, we'd finish at my mom's front yard sitting under a huge chinese elm watching the world go by eating oranges from our tree and playing with my dog Storm.
5. What you're listening to/ reading/ watching/ digging right now:
Currently Listening to:
Bad Bunny's "YHLQYQ" album and "A Bailar Con Mis Indios" playlist by Reclama on Spotify.
"Fruit of the Drunken Tree" by Ingrid Rojas Contreras and "You Were Made for This" by Chani Nicholas.
Ozark and Mind Hunter.
Digging right now:
Learning to read astral charts, making my own salsa, and finding special ways to keep connected with loved ones no matter where we are.
Follow AP on Instagram: @ayepeeh for daily memes and motivation!
Want to learn more? Check out ActiveSGV's new podcast, ActiveLab