Riding the Eco-Friendly Wave


How local California businesses are tackling our most pressing challenges

Today, as we celebrate Earth Day across the globe, we are reminded to reflect on the planet, our place in it and our responsibility to serve as good stewards of the environment. Especially here in Southern California, a top vacation destination many consider paradise, it’s easy to take for granted the beauty around us.

While the region has long been associated with sun, surf and resident celebrities, it’s equally renown for horrible traffic and excruciating commutes that are among the worst in the world. According to transportation data tracker INRIX, Los Angeles drivers spent 128 hours stuck in traffic last year at a  financial cost of $9.3 billion. Though California planned for decades on a high-speed rail that would connect Los Angeles and San Francisco, Governor Gavin Newsom announced the project would be on hold indefinitely because it would cost too much and take too long. Add this disappointing news to an existing bare-bones transit infrastructure comprised of sparely routed buses, an expensive and limited Metrolink system and costly toll roads, it anyone’s guess what or who can solve this ongoing dilemma.

Are Californians doomed to a life of gridlock for the next fifty years?

Some local businesses are optimistic, counting on creative ideas to encourage the use of public transport. For example, Wahoo’s Fish Taco recently partnered with the Orange County Transport Authority to encourage Orange County residents to use local public transport by enticing them with a free taco. Through its Transit Taco Tuesday deal, transit riders can present their OC Bus, OC Flex or Metrolink Pass at any participating Wahoo’s location in exchange for a free taco with an order of a Wahoo’s no. 1 combo.

To date, the State of California has relied on increased emissions regulations, higher gas prices and toll roads to reduce congestion. And while it has helped reduce the carbon footprint incrementally, the region has a long way to go. In the words of former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, “Congestion results from poor policy choices and a failure to separate solutions that are effective from those that are not.”

Thankfully, more businesses are taking the lead, opting for solutions where the goal is pretty straightforward: Reward people for changing their behavior. By consciously incorporating environmentally friendly (and good tasting) options into our everyday lives, we may indeed bring about the kind of change needed to address Southern California’s most challenging problems while at the same time ensuring we keep our piece of paradise beautiful.