Eco-Friendly Living: How Renters in Los Angeles Can Embrace Green Spaces
Los Angeles is known for its sprawl, traffic, and bustling urban landscape. But beneath the concrete jungle lies a city working toward a greener future. Although LA conjures images of endless roads and highways, it also contains over 35,000 acres of parkland stretching across its 500 square miles.
From restored natural habitats like the Ballona Wetlands to massive recreation areas like Griffith Park, LA offers urban dwellers ample opportunities to connect with nature.
Renters makeup over 60% of LA’s population.
For these residents, access to green spaces provides immense physical and mental health benefits. Greenery cleanses air pollution, reduces ambient temperatures, and offers spaces for exercise and mindfulness practices. As LA pushes forward with sustainability initiatives, renters can embrace eco-friendly lifestyles through their living spaces, communities, and city.
The Need for Urban Green Spaces
Urban areas lack nature’s presence. Concrete structures and asphalt roads absorb and trap heat, causing urban regions to be hotter than rural ones. This phenomenon is known as the urban heat island effect. Temperatures in urban heat islands can be 1–7°F hotter than surrounding areas. This leads to increased energy consumption and air pollution.
Green spaces help mitigate the heat island effect. Vegetation provides shade and cools air through transpiration and evaporation. According to American Forests, increasing tree cover by just 10% in urban areas like Los Angeles can reduce ambient temperatures by 3–4°C. Urban greenery also filters air pollution.
Trees absorb gaseous pollutants like ozone, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, and sulfur dioxides through leaf stomata. Particulate matter also deposits on plant surfaces. This improves public health as exposure to such pollutants increases respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. LA’s infamous smog stems largely from transportation emissions. Over 88% of LA air pollution originates from vehicles. More green spaces along busy roads and highways can help trap these mobile emissions. For homes for rent Los Angeles, proximity to green spaces can provide immense benefits to renters’ health and wellbeing. Areas with ample urban greenery tend to have improved air quality, lower ambient temperatures, and a higher quality of living.
LA’s Commitment to Urban Greenery
Civic agencies recognize the immense value of urban greening. In 2019, LA mayor Eric Garcetti released the Green New Deal, outlining sustainability targets for 2025, 2035, and 2050. It aims to increase tree canopy in areas of greatest need by at least 50% by 2028. Meeting this goal requires planting and maintaining 90,000 new trees.
To accomplish such large-scale greening, the city partners with various environmental groups.
How Renters Can Live Sustainably
Renters may feel limited in their sustainability impact. But small, eco-conscious changes in living spaces and habits contribute to community-wide benefits. Here are steps renters can take:
Choose greener housing
- Rent newer buildings following green construction standards. The city offers expedited plan approval for projects meeting sustainability criteria.
- Look for proximity to green spaces like parks and community gardens. Being near nature improves mental health.
- Pick multi-family housing or denser neighborhoods. This creates smaller urban footprints per person.
Introduce indoor greenery
- Potted houseplants purify indoor air. A NASA study showed such plants can remove up to 87% of air toxins in 24 hours. They also increase humidity and mental well-being.
- Install green walls or vertical gardens. These maximize planting space and good air in small living quarters.
- Grow herbs and greens. Mini indoor gardens let you harvest your own pesticide-free edibles.
Advocate for community gardens
- Push for access to community gardens in your neighborhood. Gardening fosters social connections and eco-awareness.
- Participate in community composting. This reduces landfill waste and creates fertilizer for gardens. Worm bins work even in apartments.
- Organize park and neighborhood clean-ups. This builds stewardship of public green spaces.
Practice sustainable habits
- Walk, bike, or use public transport to reduce emissions. LA offers rapid expansion of metro and bus services.
- Reduce, reuse, and recycle as much waste as possible. Recycling cuts significant carbon emissions.
- Conserve energy and water in your home. Simple acts like turning off lights and taking shorter showers help preserve resources.
Discovering LA’s Public Green Spaces
Despite LA’s concrete sprawl, it contains ample public parks and gardens. These provide nearby nature access for apartment renters with limited outdoor space. Here are some top options:
This iconic park spans over 4,300 acres in central LA. It boasts an impressive diversity of spaces, including:
- The LA Zoo and Botanical Gardens
- Griffith Observatory with sweeping city views
- Bronson Canyon for hiking and exploration
- The Autry Museum of the American West
With size equivalent to New York’s Central Park, Griffith Park provides plenty of room to roam.
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Formerly oil fields, this park transformed into a green oasis. Features include:
- Over seven miles of walking paths and trails
- The Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook boasting panoramic city and ocean views
- A community garden with public gardening classes
The park connects to the Ballona Creek bike path for car-free accessibility.
Echo Park Lake
This quintessential urban getaway contains:
- A decorative lake with fountains, water features, and lotus beds
- Wooded areas ideal for short strolls
- Cafes and restaurants with outdoor waterfront seating
The lake’s perimeter walking path measures nearly a mile for leisurely laps.
El Pueblo de Los Angeles
This historic district in downtown LA holds:
- Lush gardens and courtyards with fountains and statues
- The picturesque Chinese American garden
- Olvera Street with traditional Mexican markets
The old-world architecture backdrop makes this a popular filming location.
Adjacent to the USC campus, Exposition Park spans 160 acres and has:
- The Rose Garden acclaimed for its over 200 rose varieties
- Massive rolled lawns lined with palms and fountains
- The California African American Museum
The open green spaces attract fitness classes, picnickers, and families.
Collaborating for a Greener Future
As Angelenos, renters can collectively shape policy and culture around sustainability. Here are ways to get involved:
- Attend city council meetings when green space proposals arise. Public comments influence decisions.
- Volunteer at community gardens and tree planting events. This provides sweat equity to expand green spaces.
- Join nonprofits advocating for parks, gardens, and sustainability. More voices strengthen awareness campaigns and lobbying.
- Push landlords and building managers toward eco-friendly practices like low water landscaping, recycling programs, and energy efficiency upgrades.
- Participate in neighborhood beautification and greening initiatives.
- Vote for representatives who prioritize environmental policies and urban green space access.
Renters have untapped power to steer LA toward climate resilience and ecological well-being. By forging community connections around urban nature, not only does the city landscape grow greener, but civic spirit and pride also blossom.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Does Los Angeles have any incentives for adding my own green features as a renter?Some utility companies like LADWP offer rebates for renters to install energy and water efficient fixtures. Many offer free items like low-flow showerheads. LA also has some subsidies for household composting bins.
- What resources exist for community gardening and urban agriculture in Los Angeles?
Great organizations include LA Compost, LA Green Grounds, Fix Food, and Farm LA. They have programs assisting people to start community gardens at homes, schools, businesses, and neighborhoods across LA.
- Where can I find upcoming volunteer opportunities for environmental stewardship and green space improvements?
Websites like LA Works, Volunteer Match, and Tree People provide calendars of local volunteer events focusing on sustainability, gardening, and nature restoration. These are great ways to give back.
Embarking on a greener lifestyle empowers individuals to make positive local change. Through collective action, Angelenos can transform neighborhoods into more livable and sustainable communities. LA may be known for its concrete sprawl today, but its green transformation has already begun, park by park, street by street, and one renter at a time.