LA Climate Action Profile: Clare Fox of Los Angeles Food Policy Council

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Clare Fox is the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, whose mission is provide healthy, affordable, fair, and sustainable food for everyone in Southern California. LAFPC fulfills this mission by working closely with LA communities and the City.

Tell us about your work on climate change.

We made great steps this year toward getting food out of landfills, where it is a major contributor to methane emissions locally. Nearly one third of our landfills are made up of food! This year, we made great progress through the City of LA’s new RecycLA program. This new commercial and multi-family residential waste program now offers food businesses the option to donate edible surplus food to hunger relief organizations. Whatever can’t be eaten will now be separated into green bins and eventually composted. My organization — the Los Angeles Food Policy Council — helped create partnerships between waste haulers and food recovery organizations, and produced a guide called “Reducing Food Waste: Recovering Untapped Resources In Our Food System.” We also helped the LA Board of Public Works move toward zero food waste at LA City Hall, including a new food scrap drop off for compost at City Hall’s weekly farmers market, and a new food waste grant challenge with a total grant pool of $100,000 available to the public.

What inspired you on your career path? And what or who inspires you now?

I became inspired to work on food justice and sustainability after I was able to recover from health problems in my 20s by changing my diet. I realized that not everyone has that opportunity, and in fact, often low-income communities suffer unnecessary diet-related disease due to lack of access to fresh food. I see this as a human rights issue. Today, I am continuously inspired by people who grow their own food, tend to the soil and are creating a cultural awareness of regeneration. We need to move towards “closed loop” energy, waste and agricultural systems that regenerate natural resources, not deplete them.

What are the barriers you face in work — and what could make your job easier?

One of the greatest barriers I see is lack of access to capital for innovation and industry that is truly regenerative and equitable. From mid-sized sustainable farms and food manufacturers, to low-income entrepreneurs like street vendors struggling at the margins of our economy — some of the most creative, resourceful and cutting-edge entrepreneurs struggle to access capital that would help them scale, and often face immense regulatory barriers as well.

A genie grants you two wishes that will help fight climate change. What do you ask for? The third wish is for anything you want (sky’s the limit!).

1. Agriculture shifts to regenerative soil building to simultaneously sequester carbon from the atmosphere, better retain and spread water, and infuse our food with the life-giving nutrients of healthy soil!

2. Food waste becomes a thing of the past! All food is either donated, upcycled (think dehydrated snacks made from nut or juice pulp) or converted into feed, energy or compost. No more methane-emitting rotting food in landfills.

3. A just transition to a carbon neutral economy with good green jobs and economic opportunity as a means for eliminating racial and economic inequality.

Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2017

Things You Can Do To Save On Your Next LADWP Bill

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Photo: DWRowan

We can all reduce our electricity and water use — to reduce greenhouse gases and save on our bills. Below, a list of useful programs offered by the Department of Water and Power (LADWP) for Angelenos, whether you are a business owner or residential customer of LADWP, or both.

For Businesses

Energy Conservation

  • Commercial Lighting Incentive Program: LADWP provides cash incentives for lighting retrofits. Incentive is offered based on each kWh saved. Lighting retrofits include sensor control installation, LED fixture replacement, and other lighting replacements.
  • Custom Performance Program: LADWP offers rebates on energy-efficient measures taken by your business. Energy-efficient measures include installing high-efficiency windows, cool roofs, and energy-efficient data centers.
  • Food Service Program: Food service equipment can be costly, which is why the LADWP offers a new incentive program for replacing old food service appliances with new, energy-efficient products. The list includes electric griddles, electric steam cookers, and reach-in refrigerators.

Water Conservation

  • Water Conservation Rebate ProgramLADWP offers rebates on retrofits and replacement of old toilets, nozzles, irrigation systems, and more.
  • Custom Water ConservationLADWP offers up to $250,000 when you install pre-approved products and equipment in your facility. Visit the link for examples of these projects.
  • Turf Replacement ProgramLandscaping (see photo) can be an effective water-conservation method. Commercial customers can receive up to $1 per square foot of turf grass replacement. Be sure to get pre-approval for your turf replacement project.

For Homeowners

Energy Conservation

  • Efficient Product MarketplaceBeing energy-efficient can be as simple as replacing a fluorescent bulb with an LED lightbulb. Visit the Efficient Product Marketplace website for more details on how you can receive LADWP rebates on energy-saving products.
  • Home Energy Improvement ProgramAn LADWP technician will come to your home, assess areas where you can upgrade for more cost and energy efficiency, and a trained repair technician will complete necessary upgrades.
  • Energy Upgrade CaliforniaThrough a whole-house approach, you can complete energy-efficient upgrades on multiple areas of your home and receive up to $5500 in rebates.
  • Solar Incentive ProgramLADWP will help offset the costs of solar rooftop installation to your home. Visit the website for more information on how you can make the transition to solar. (Related: Feed-in Tariff Program)

Water Conservation

  • Water Conservation Rebate ProgramLADWP provides rebates for residents to replace old washing machines and toilets with new, water-efficient models.
  • Turf Replacement ProgramLandscaping can be an effective water-conservation method. Residential customers can receive up to $2 per square foot of turf grass replacement. Be sure to get pre-approval for your turf replacement project.
  • Free water conservation itemsReceive water-saving household essentials (kitchen sink aerator, shower head, rain barrels) for free!

For Renters

Energy Conservation

  • Efficient Product MarketplaceBeing energy-efficient can be as simple as replacing a fluorescent bulb with an LED lightbulb. Visit the Efficient Product Marketplace website for more details on how you can receive LADWP rebates on energy-saving products.
  • Refrigerator Exchange ProgramIn exchange for your old refrigerator, LADWP offers a new, energy-efficient refrigerator. (Related: Refrigerator Recycling Program)
  • Window A/C Recycling ProgramRecycle your old window air conditioner for a $25 prepaid gift card from the LADWP. Receive an additional $50 for purchasing a new, energy-saving air conditioner.

Water Conservation

Learn more about what you can do to save energy, water, and money on the LADWP website.

Posted on Thursday, October 19th, 2017

Things to Know About Food Waste and Climate Change

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Too much food is ending up in landfills.

In the United States, 40% of the food we produce is going to waste. On top of that, 90% of this wasted food in the U.S. ends up in landfills, and is the biggest occupant of these landfills.

Food waste produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

When food waste is thrown away and sent to landfills, this waste decomposes in the absence of oxygen. This process results in the production of methane, which is 23 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2. Landfills account for almost 25% of the U.S.’s methane emissions. Decomposition also takes a lot longer in landfills; a head of lettuce can take up to 25 years to break down in a landfill (Wasted).

The food industry’s labeling system is also responsible for food waste.

Those “best by” and “sell by” dates are set by manufacturers and do not necessarily address the safety and shelf life of food. It’s estimated that 20% of all food waste comes from consumer misunderstanding of these date labels.

Food waste is costly, but large-scale solutions are profitable.

The average American family spends $1,500 per year on wasted food. Some companies have capitalized on this problem, and have begun to turn food waste into products like compost, fertilizer and animal feed–on average, they have seen a $14 return for every $1 invested (Wasted).

We can take steps to reduce our food waste.

There are great resources available for consumers and businesses. Locally, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council has a Los Angeles Area Food Recovery Guide. The EPA also has a food recovery hierarchy that prioritizes actions that will reduce wasted food and is ordered in best to worst management strategies. Big steps to manage surplus food include reducing the amount of extra food generated, ensuring that surplus food goes to hungry people, feeding it to livestock to turn it back into edible food, using it to generate energy, or allowing it to turn into nutrient-rich soil.

Even small steps can make a difference in reducing our collective food waste.

Some ideas you can implement today, from our friends at the LA Food Policy Council and our own staff: Plan meals and be mindful of portion sizes; make shopping lists to avoid buying more than needed; properly store produce and leftovers; use vegetable and other scraps in soups and other dishes or to make stocks. Bonus: in addition to reducing your individual carbon footprint, you’ll save money. Next step: consider a composting system at home and at work.

Posted on Tuesday, October 17th, 2017
Path To Positive Los Angeles