While the climate crisis has many factors that play a role in the exacerbation of the environment, some warrant more attention than others. From plastic pollution to food waste and deforestation, Earth Month brings with it a range of environmentally focused events and campaigns. We are all encouraged to come together to support and amplify environmental advocacy work, and focus on solutions to give our planet a healthier future.

On this week’s “In Focus SoCal,” Spectrum News’ Ariel Wesler spoke with California state Sen. Lena Gonzalez, who represents the 33rd District and serves as the state’s Senate majority leader. She authored the Climate Resilient Schools Act — known as Senate Bill 1182 — which is going to equip schools with the tools to protect students and educators from the impacts of climate change.

“With over 1,000 school districts and over 10,000 school facilities, we know that we need a master plan for climate resiliency across our California schools to keep children and faculty healthy,” said Gonzalez. “And so that means is we want to decarbonize buildings, putting electrical HVAC systems, adding urban yards, ensuring that the building from left to right is all decarbonized.”

The impact of fast fashion on the environment is a growing problem. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the fashion industry is responsible for producing over 92 million tons of textile waste each year. And in the U.S., only about 15% percent of clothes and textiles get reused or recycled, while 85% ends up in landfills around the world.  

SoCal scientists, climate experts and activists are examining how the fashion industry measures up when it comes to sustainability.

Dr. Joanne Brasch, director of advocacy and outreach for the California Product Stewardship Council, explained the scope of the problem of textiles in our local landfills.

“What we’re finding in the research is as people are going into waste streams doing audits, is that it’s a much larger problem than we previously thought,” said Brasch. “Cal Recycle is the state agency here in California, who audits and oversees our waste authorities. And they estimate textiles to be about 3% of the commercial waste stream, or even coming out of residential households. But as we found actually in a project in the City of Los Angeles, it’s actually over 6% of the waste stream in some neighborhoods. So we’re finding that it’s not only a top material in the waste stream, it’s highly reusable and recyclable. So it shouldn’t be going to the landfill, where it’s currently going to.”

We also look at a recycling project run by the nonprofit Homeboy Industries, which aims to help people formerly incarcerated by giving them an opportunity to make a positive change in their own lives while helping the environment.

Send us your thoughts to InFocusSoCal@charter.com, and watch at 9 a.m. and noon every Sunday.