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Central Group Newsletter
March 2018

this month's topic:

In This Issue:

Tip of the Day

"No plastic straw, please." When you order drinks specify that you do not want a plastic straw. Not only will you keep a plastic straw from being disposed of, you will also raise awareness about the problem of plastic overuse.

Keep Up with Us


Let's Go Zero Waste!

Ren Vokes
On April 7th, from 11 am to 3 pm, bring your loved ones to the Zero Waste Fair & Expo at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles, to enjoy adult AND kid-friendly workshops, activities, and demonstrations on sustainable practices that are easily implemented at home – like composting, clothing repair, up-cycling, DIY natural products, and more!

Globally, we are generating about 1.3 billion tonnes of municipal solid waste, and that number is expected to rise to 2.2 billion tonnes by the year 2025. China has somewhat recently announced that they will no longer act as “the world’s garbage dump” and imposed a ban on 24 kinds of solid waste they previously imported, in addition to implementing more strict regulations on the cleanliness of the recyclables they continue to accept. This is causing a build-up of recyclables everywhere, mainly plastic. But can you blame China for making this decision? Our garbage has been polluting their environment for far too long now and they've had enough. 

The Angeles Chapter sees this as fantastic opportunity to connect with the community so we can reevaluate our relationship with waste and give the power back to the consumer; we need to let companies know we refuse unnecessary, toxic packaging and waste in order to make our city a healthier place for everyone.

This event will be a blast! Entertainment will be provided by The Sycons Solar DJs, art made from rubbish by local artists and student artists will be on display, a sustainably-conscious food truck will serve delicious food, and, of course, there will be fun yet useful giveaways!

Pencil this event into your day planners (made from recycled materials, of course), because you won’t want to miss it! For more info, visit our Central Group Website or Facebook page.

Notes from the Chair

Barbara Hensleigh

It is almost Spring, and the Central Group is celebrating! We have so much going on, and want you to be a part of it. 

Celebrate EARTH DAY with the Sierra Club
Join us for a picnic and guided tour of Echo Park Lake, while we celebrate Earth Day and help raise funds for the Sierra Club.

Bring your family, friends, picnic blankets and resealable cups for some delicious food, entertainment, paddle boat rides and raffle at the Beacon at Echo Park! Echo Park Lake tour times are at 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Tickets start at $10 and will help your Central Group grow into a formidable environmental voice for Los Angeles.

More info and to buy tickets

BONUS: For the entire month of April, Beacon will donate $1 when you bring your own cup (and mention Sierra Club), or order a Quinoa or Farro + Pesto Bowl!

Liberty Park Victory

On March 6th, the Central Group appeared at the city’s Planning, Land Use Committee hearing and—in our first advocacy since reorganization—argued for Liberty Park and Wilshire Park Place, located on Wilshire Boulevard between Oxford and Serrano Avenues. The 11-story mid-rise office building is known for having one of the broadest building setbacks along all of Wilshire and is easily recognizable by having Radio Korea as its anchor tenant. Liberty Park, also known as the giant lawn, is about a third of a block. Many public events are staged in Liberty Park, including Earth Day, National Night Out, Save Dok-do Island, and the most popular World Cup viewings that draw thousands of spectators to watch the game on a large screen. The Wiltern Theater and Wilshire/Western Purple Line station are a block west on Western Avenue.

The park is also a skateboarder's paradise; the area outside the building is one of L.A.'s most iconic spots for skateboarders. This is largely because of the open space, as well as the various quirks of the plaza, which is abundant with stairs, slightly concave walls, and a number of raised platforms.  
As a neighborhood, Koreatown is lacking parks. Koreatown is regarded as one of the most "park poor" neighborhoods in the county. The Department of Parks and Recreation said that Koreatown had 0.1 acres of park space for every 1,000 residents; it scored lower than historically park poor neighborhoods like Van Nuys and South L.A. By comparison, the L.A. County as a whole averages about 3.3 acres per 1,000 people. Park planners told the L.A. Times that the situation is even more dire – they believe that the figure is closer to 0.7 acres per 1,000 people in Koreatown. The Times notes that, for each person, this space amounts to something smaller than a coffin!

Want to have coffee and talk about volunteer opportunities with this dynamic, fun group?  Contact our Central Group Chair, Barbara Hensleigh at:

On Our Radar

Jason Wise

If we as a society are truly going to Zero Waste, the collective action of thousands of Sierrans will have a huge impact, but in order to revolutionize our throwaway society, we’re going to need to think even bigger. That’s why the Sierra Club is following a number of local and statewide policies that have the potential to take us to the next level.
Prop 68 - The California Clean Water and Parks Act

The first item to put on your radar is the upcoming Proposition 68 statewide ballot initiative. During the June 5 primary election, all Californians will have a chance to vote on more funding to change our wasteful water practices, protect natural resources, and improve parks. As Sierra Club California’s legislative director Kathryn Phillips put it, “Proposition 68 is an investment that will pay dividends immediately and going into the future. All Californians who care about our state’s natural resources and our legacy to our children must vote for this important bond.”

For more information, check out this Sierra Club California press release, and stay tuned for more on how you can get involved as the election draws closer.
Saving "recycLA"

The next item for your radar is the recycLA program, a new City of Los Angeles system designed to improve recycling, air quality, and waste collection worker safety. The program came under attack in its infancy earlier this year, but more recently the Sierra Club participated in a City Hall rally to support the program, with our own conservation program manager Angélica González noting that the collection system would make the city “a national leader when it comes to environmental standards” once local leaders are able to “iron out wrinkles” in its implementation. Already the program is ironing out those wrinkles, according to new data. Sierra Club will continue to track progress on this program to make sure it meets its goals of encouraging cleaner air, zero waste, and healthier communities throughout Los Angeles.

Dear Starbucks: Keep Your
Sustainable Promises

Ren Vokes
Back in 2008, coffee conglomerate Starbucks pledged to make a 100% recyclable paper cup and to serve 25% of its drinks in reusable travel mugs by 2015. We are now a quarter of the way through the year 2018 and not only has Starbucks failed to produce a fully recyclable cup but only 1.4% of their customers bring their own cup. However, they did make a new pledge this year: to open a new location every fifteen hours in China in 2018. With figures like, 8,000 Starbucks cups served a minute and over 4 billion cups served annually, this news is a nauseating blow to activists working to reduce plastic waste. The problem doesn’t just lie with the visible plastics – the plastic cups and lids, the iconic green straws, those annoyingly tiny plastic stoppers to keep the drink from spilling out the mouthpiece.

Did you know that most coffee cups are lined with plastic, thus making it nearly impossible to recycle? (Less than 1% of coffee cups actually do get recycled.) That means roughly over 3.9 billion cups are making their way to our landfills and natural environment. What can we do? Bring our reusable cups and shop local! Boycott Starbucks by refusing to give them your business and visit your local coffee shop with your reusable mug. There is also a petition you can sign here:

Upcoming Zero Waste (and Low-Emission) Hikes

Will McWhinney

Zero (and Low) Emission Hikes


Enjoying recreation, exercise, and adventure doesn’t require burning tons of fossil fuels. Los Angeles is rich in hiking opportunities that require only minimal energy to reach. In many cases, mass transit can take you to the trail heads with no added emissions. And even more adventures can be reached with only a short drive. So cancel those jet flights to far away locations and explore the exotic and beautiful places right here instead.

The Central Group is hosting a series of hikes to make nature accessible to those who’d prefer to use mass transit due to environmental or budgetary concerns. Once you’ve learned the routes you can go with friends and family anytime you like.

A full list  of Sierra Club Angeles Chapter activities can be found online:

Newcomers Hike - Griffith Park
Saturday, April 7, 2018  at 8:30 AM (and every 1st Saturday of even-numbered months)

Easy paced, hilly walk, 3 miles, 500 ft gain, approx 2 hrs. Newcomers welcome. We'll hike up to the "La La Land" bench, down through shady Fern Dell, and enjoy views of the Hollywood Sign and the Griffith Observatory. Then we'll grab coffee and a pastry at the Trails Cafe. Meet 8:30 am near the entrance to the big parking lot on Fern Dell Dr. Bring camera, water, sun protection, hat, and light hiking boots or trail runners. Rain cancels.

Note - this April’s hike is a special “baby-paced” hike, with guest leaders Tracy and Ben Bowes, and their 6-month old newcomer, Peregrine. Bring the little ones - there’s a playset along the way.

Leaders: Will

Downtown LA After-Work Exploration

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 5:30 PM (and every 3rd Wednesday)

Take a hike, have a bite, then get a drink in the DTLA area. Join us for a monthly after-work exploration led by certified Sierra Club leaders. Meet other cool people who live or work downtown. Each month we'll meet at Union Station and take transportation to a local park. We'll walk 3-5 miles, then find a place for food and drink near a Metro stop. Tentative plans, subject to change:
  • April - L.A. Historical Park
  • May - Vista Hermosa Park/Grand Park
  • June - Hollenbeck Park
  • July - Echo Park
  • August - Elysian Park
  • September/October -  tbd

Bring a TAP card, money for refreshments, walking shoes, appropriate clothing for the weather, including a hat (event is rain or shine). Meet 5:30 pm at the NE corner of 7th St & Figueroa, besides the station entrance. Contact the leader to get specific details or to arrange to meet the group at the destination park.

Leaders: Will McWhinney -, Garen Yegparian -, (818) 563-3918, Rick Farber -, (323) 935-8990

Baldwin Hills Hike
Saturday, April 21, 2018  at 9:30 AM (and every 3rd Saturday through October)

Visit Japanese Gardens, waterfall, lake, forest, and other areas in this urban gem. Many fine views of the LA basin and the surrounding mountains. 6 miles, 500 ft gain. Bring: camera, water, snack, sun protection, hat, light hiking boots. Meet at the Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area Visitors Center parking lot at 9:30 am. Rain cancels.

Mass transit - Take the Baldwin Hills Parklands Shuttle from the La Cienega/Jefferson Metro Station West Plaza at 9:10 am ($.25 fare).

Leaders: Rick Farber -, (323) 935-8990, Will McWhinney -

Are You Cracking Plastic Into Your Bottled Water? 

Ren Vokes

A new study conducted by the State University of New York in Fredonia finds alarming levels of microplastics in bottled water, causing the World Health Organization (WHO) to launch a review into the potential risks associated with plastics in drinking water. 

In this study, researchers analyzed 259 bottles from 11 various brands in 19 locations in nine countries across the world and found that over 90% of the bottles contained little pieces of plastic – only 17 of the 259 bottles tested were found to be ‘free’ of plastic. The bottles sampled were bought in the U.S., Mexico, China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Kenya, and Thailand; the brands were Aqua (Danone), Aquafina (PepsiCo), Bisleri (Bisleri International), Dasani (Coca-Cola), Europa (PepsiCo), Evian (Danone), Gerolsteiner (Geronsteiner Brunnen), Minalba (Grupo Edson Queiroz), Nestle Pure Life (Nestle), San Pellegrino (Nestle), and Wahaha (Hangzhou Wahaha Group). The analysis found an average of 325 plastic particles for every liter of water sold, and in one bottle of Nestle Pure Life, concentrations were as high as 10,000 plastic particles per liter. 

The microplastics found were categorized by their morphology –fragment, fiber, pellet, film, or foam – and by polymeric content: polypropylene, polystyrene, polyethylene, polyester + polyethylene terephthalate, and ‘others’ (azlon, polyacrylates and copolymers). The most abundant type of plastic found was fragmented polypropylene, which is a polymer commonly used to make plastic bottle caps. This suggests that the packaging itself is contaminating the water we are drinking – the same water that is marketed to us as the safer alternative to tap water. 

Plastics are known to contain a whole slew of toxic additives and binding agents, like Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a known endocrine disrupter that imitates the body’s natural hormones, often estrogen, and upsets the delicate balance of the endocrine system. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are of concern because they can be passed onto future generations and may actually be reprogramming genes.     

If bottled water wasn’t already unappealing to you before at 300-2000 times the cost of tap water, hopefully this new study will convince you to always remember to bring your reusable water bottle with you everywhere you go! 

"BYOPB" Bring your own produce bag. Grocery totes aren't the only reusable bag on the block, you can also bring little baggies for loose produce or bulk bin items like nuts or dried beans! Many marine species mistake these filmy plastic bags for food (they look very similar to jellyfish). By bringing your own produce bag, you are eliminating a major source of pollution and keeping plastic out of the guts of sea turtles! 

Join us for our Zero Waste Fair & Expo to learn about all the little ways you can save the planet! Visit our Central Group Website or Facebook page to get involved!

The Central Group is the heart of the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter, representing the area from West Hollywood through East LA, from Griffith Park through South LA, and a number of Gateway Cities. For more info, check out our website and join us at an upcoming event.
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Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Central Group · 3250 Wilshire Blvd #1106 · Los Angeles, California 90010 · USA

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