September 17, 2012 |
The decline of my 10-year-old refrigerator started with an unsettling wheezing sound and ended with a death rattle that would have cost $500 to fix. So I, like 10 million other Americans each year, dropped money on a new fridge and had the broken one hauled away. But I was nagged by a lingering concern: What happened to my hulking old Amana? The Pacific Sales where I bought my new Samsung offered a free haul-away service, but what did that company do with it? Where, exactly, was it hauled away to?
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 24, 2012 |
Lunch items in the Los Angeles Unified School District have been in flux in recent years - for example, swapping pizza for whole-grain spaghetti - but the sagging plastic foam tray that carried the food survived for decades. That changed too earlier this month, when the foam was switched out for recyclable paper trays at all district schools. District and city leaders made it official during a Thursday lunch-hour announcement at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Feliz, where two years ago the activism of some sixth-graders kicked off the effort to ban plastic foam trays.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 23, 2012 |
Well into his 70s, Terry Martin could be found most days in his Dana Point workshop sanding blocks of polyurethane foam into precision-shaped surfboards. With his big white beard and barrel chest, Martin looked like Santa riding out a blizzard of swirling white dust. Over a nearly six-decade career, Martin is said to have shaped more surfboards than anyone - some 80,000 - although the exact number is unknowable. Martin himself once said he stopped counting after 50,000. Martin's output and perfectionism made him an icon among the tight-knit fraternity of surfing's best shapers, one of a dwindling number of craftsmen who earn a living making surfboards by hand.
August 15, 2011
Coastal cities can't keep plastic foam out of the ocean by themselves. The tiny bits of polystyrene from food takeout containers float from inland areas through storm water channels along with the rest of the urban runoff. So it's heartening that legislation to ban most use of such containers managed to pass the state Senate in July despite strong opposition. The bill (SB 568) faces a more formidable hurdle in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, but it's been improved with provisions that allow a slower phase-out of the foam, and it should be passed.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 3, 2011 |
Reporting from Sacramento -- Restaurants in California would have to stop using food containers made of polystyrene foam under legislation approved Thursday by the state Senate to address environmental worries. Lawmakers also moved forward with tougher penalties for those who smuggle or possess cellphones in state prisons and expanded a state ban on workplace smoking. Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) proposed the prohibition on polystyrene containers, saying they do not decompose quickly and thus can linger for years in landfills, storm drains and ocean waters.
May 27, 2011
The rap on polystyrene foam — better known by the trade name Styrofoam — used to be that it hung around in landfills without decomposing and couldn't be recycled. But these days, practically nothing breaks down in landfills because they are regularly compacted and covered. And the foam now can be recycled in dozens of California cities, though many of them offer only limited service. So has the foam cup become an upstanding citizen in a more green-conscious world? Not quite. It's been fingered as one of the major culprits, along with plastic carryout bags, of plastic pollution in the oceans and other waters.