Eco-friendly strategies on course

Experts on topics from sustainable product design to reducing waste going to California landfills will be part of a series of lectures sponsored by the Burbank Redevelopment Agency and the Burbank Green Alliance.

Starting tonight and running every Wednesday for three weeks, the lectures steer clear of just touting job sectors expected to grow or the wonders of sustainability. Instead, they focus on practical advice for business managers, people in the food service industry and others.

“What is really beneficial about our classes is that class size is so small that individual participants can have hands-on training with the speakers,” said Jessica Aldridge, executive director of the Burbank Green Alliance. “It’s a prime opportunity for people to incorporate green strategies into their business.”

This is the second year the alliance joined with the city’s Team Business Burbank program to sponsor the series. The lectures take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays.


The first event focuses on the restaurant and food service business. Leslie VanKeuren, a restaurateur and founder of the nonprofit group Sustain L..A., will unveil strategies for making restaurant operations more environmentally and consumer friendly.

VanKeuren is a former general manager of Gingergrass, a popular Vietnamese restaurant in Silver Lake where she launched a food recycling program, eliminated the use of Styrofoam, implemented water- and energy-saving efforts and replaced toxic cleaning products with others.

On Jan. 12, the focus is on building a “green business blueprint,” Aldridge said.

The guest speaker is engineer Brad Cracchiola of BMW DesignWorksUSA, a Los Angeles-based spin-off of the German car manufacturer. DesignWorks takes on design work for everything from cell phones to the interiors of cars and yachts. Cracchiola focuses on management strategies and driving those who supply raw materials to manufacturers to source their products with sustainability in mind.


The final lecture features Heidi Sanborn, director of the Sacramento-based California Product Stewardship Council, a nonprofit that works with local governments, garbage companies, manufacturers and others to reduce packaging waste and increase a company’s so-called cradle-to-cradle responsibility for the impacts of products.

The classes are $15, but free to Burbank Chamber of Commerce members. Burbank residents and friends of the Burbank Green Alliance can attend at a discount.

Tonight’s session is at the Burbank Central Library, 110 N. Glenoaks Blvd. The final two lectures will be at the Community Services Building, 150 N. Third St. For more information, visit