Los Angeles is frequently regarded as being one of the least environmental friendly
cities in the United States; the pollutants in the air, the lack of greenery and open space, heavy
traffic, and other factors indicate that L.A. is not environmentally sustainable. However, L.A. is
taking steps to becoming more sustainable, through its recycling program, legislation, and other
The American Lung Association (ALA) releases an annual “State of the Air” report that
analyzes the air in cities around the U.S. The report uses the Air Quality Index (AQI) to calculate
a score for each city based on its ozone and particle pollution levels, both short term and long
term. According to the 2013 report, L.A. failed both the ozone and particle pollution tests (ALA).
However, trends from ALA indicate a decreasing pattern, which points to L.A. slowly becoming
less polluted. This is in part due to the Clean Air Act of 1970, which sets air quality standards for
six common "criteria pollutants": particulate matter (particle pollution), ozone, sulfur dioxide,
nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead. The Clean Air Act mandates states to regulate air
quality based on national standards.
The Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, which handles the city’s recycling program,
provides service to 750,000 households. Households are given four bins: blue for recyclables,
green for yard waste, black for residual waste, and brown for horse manure. According to the
Zero Waste Progress Report 2013 conducted by the UCLA Engineering Extension’s Municipal
Solid Waste Management Program, L.A. Achieved a recycling rate of 76%, the highest out of ten
major cities in the U.S. (UCLA). Moreover, the survey conducted reflects these results, as 82%
of respondents answered that they recycle regularly.
82% of survey respondents believe that there is not enough open space currently in L.A.
L.A. is a major city, with 3.9 million residents in only 503 square miles. Most of the city, from
my own experiences, is paved with streets or filled with buildings.
Ultimately, due to the heavy pollution, Los Angeles cannot be considered sustainable in
the transportation sector. However, the recycling program and the improvements in air quality
are important to note as steps to becoming sustainable.
The Egan Wheel analyzes equality in respect to age, gender, culture, race, as well as
other aspects, in society, to determine the extent to which a city can be deemed sustainable.
Los Angeles, although under U.S. legislation, still sees inequality in employment and access to
services on a regular basis. According to the L.A. Times, Los Angeles remains one of the cities
with the highest income inequality, especially in the downtown area with the zip codes 90014,
90013, 90015 and 90021. Moreover, differences in income between genders is still prevalent
in L.A., with...