What is green? To folks on Capitol Hill, it’s a socialist ideology. To the hipsters on Madison Avenue, it’s a branding opportunity. To suburbanites, it’s a Bohemian status symbol. It might be better to say that green is a matter of survival—or, to use the soft term for hard truths, sustainability. Green is creative production and thoughtful consumption. It is the next frontier for our entrepreneurial energies and engaged citizenship. And for the seven Las Vegans profiled on these pages in honor of Earth Day (April 22), green is a way of life.
Gaia flower and gift shop is in Las Vegas’ Arts District on East Charleston Boulevard, but it feels like it belongs in a place like Portland, Ore. The homey, funky space is more like an art gallery. An assortment of arts and crafts crowd against the walls, and the overall atmosphere is bright, airy and colorful. The most foreign element of the 2-year-old shop, though, is that it specializes in eco-friendly flowers. In Vegas, that’s probably a head-scratching notion.
“Sexy” and “recycling” don’t often go in the same sentence, but this is Las Vegas, where sex sells, and recycling … well, not so much. That’s how Heather Abel got the idea for her go-go-boot-wearing, spandex-swathed superhero. Part educator, part temptress, Going Green Girl has a mission: turn the city on to recycling.
This man has rappelled off the Rio and stood atop the Stratosphere spire. He has walked through the Hilton’s Elvis suite, greeted Engelbert Humperdinck on his way, and ascended to the top of the hotel’s sign. He’s worked on the giant antique flasher panels of Fremont Street, and he’s taken 15,000-volt hits from neon transformers. But the most radical thing Scott Hill ever had to do was change the nature of lighting on one of the brightest streets in the world.
It’s been a little over a year since Las Vegas’ first public garden sprouted in a five-acre vacant lot in the center of the city. Initiated by Rosalind Brooks, a 43-year-old mother of two, Tonopah Community Garden set out to grow some healthy produce as well as a healthier urban environment.
As the first student in the University of California system to receive a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, Dale Devitt knew he was on the forefront of something special in 1972 but didn’t quite know what to do next. Today he’s a leader in his field. He founded the Center for Urban Water Conservation at UNLV in 1993, but his personal focus for more than a decade has been the study of reclaimed water.
We’ve heard it before. Every so often the past two decades or more, the notion of a Valley-wide light-rail system, including a fleet of clean, quick trains gliding up the Strip and over to the airport, stirs some initial debate. There’s maybe a hearing, vague promises for studies, a one-and-done newspaper story and then silence.
Can the Strip’s used bottles pave the way to a greener Las Vegas?
In the mid-2000s, at a time when Scott McCombs could have been calmly multiplying the rewards of Realm of Design, the architectural accents firm he and his wife, Cindy had started in 1991, Scott became fascinated with the possibility that fly ash left over from burnt coal could be mixed with recycled glass to create a new kind of concrete. It would be a concrete that would use virtually no virgin materials, necessitate no environmentally damaging quarrying, and keep a whole bunch of ash and glass out of landfills.