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Chasing Down The Muse: Green solutions from across the globe

March 10, 2011|By Catharine Cooper

Laguna is easy to brag about. There are few places in the world that rival our village city.

Start with the climate, add terrain that includes canyons and hillside vistas, secluded coves with white sand beaches, a pedestrian-friendly downtown, quaint shops, chic galleries, a plethora of gourmet restaurants, trendy taverns, an educated and civic-minded community and a lifestyle that celebrates healthy outdoor living.

We never tire of pushing against ideas of what can or can't be done. Sometimes we push against one another, and sometimes we work together. One of the best collective efforts was the Vision 2010 document. This was developed through hundreds of hours of community input, and one of the results was the establishment of the Environmental Committee, which replaced the Open Space Community.

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The Environmental Committee is tasked with providing guidance on water quality, marine safety, noise, air and light pollution, and open space. While the committee can make recommendations, it does not have the power to make policy; this authority rests with the City Council.

These topics come to the forefront as I travel in foreign countries and am exposed to alternate ways of dealing with ongoing environmental issues.

An interesting solution to the plastic bag problem hit me squarely in the head while visiting South Africa. Grocery stores charge for bags — any kind of bags — even plastic disposable ones. Instead of asking, "Paper or plastic," the checker asks, "Would you like to purchase a bag?"

This purchase could be one of their multi-use bags, such as those found at our Ralphs, Trader Joe's, Albertsons, etc., or a common, use-once and toss it, plastic bag. Faced with the choice of having to purchase something that will simply be thrown away, everyone opts for a multi-use bag, or supplies one that they have carried to the store.

This struck me as a brilliant, non-legislative answer to an ongoing worldwide problem of litter and plastic.

An in-flight magazine offered insight into sod roofing, which is now mandatory on newly constructed flat roofs in Copenhagen, Denmark. Roofs on any new construction that are 30% pitch or less must be green. Any retrofits may qualify for public financial support.

Copenhagen's impressive goal is to become the world's first carbon-neutral capital by 2025.

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