Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • Save the Guac!

    Save the Guac!

     

    Today is National Guacamole Day. Now, I know it’s basically a sin to waste guacamole, but sometimes it’s hard to eat it all before it turns brown. Some folks swear by laying down a thin layer of plastic cling wrap over a bowl of guacamole to prevent it from browning, but that’s not the most sustainable option and creates unnecessary waste. Reduce your food waste by learning how to store avocados and preserve guacamole so it doesn’t turn an unappetizing shade of brown before you can get back to it.  

    Green Avocados

     

    Storing Uncut Avocados

    Starting with perfectly ripe avocados is key to preserving guacamole. Pick bright green, unripe avocados, which will ripen over a few days if you leave them out on the countertop. If you need a ripe avocado the next day, tuck it into a paper bag with an apple or banana, which will speed up the ripening process. Once ripe, move the fruit into the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process so it stays fresher longer.

    Cut avocado with pit

    Storing Cut Avocados

    The darkening of guacamole or avocado is due to the process of oxidation, which is the chemical reaction between the avocado fruit and air. If you’re only going to use half an avocado, leave the pit in the other half when storing it in the fridge, which will slow down the ripening process. 

    Guacamole with chips

     

    Saving Leftover Guac for Later

    Once you smash an avocado up, you’ve maximized the oxidation potential by exposing most of the fruit’s flesh to air. If you want your guac to look fresh for a few hours on the table, consider the following preservation techniques.

    • Add lime or lemon juice to your guac. The acid will help reduce oxidation.
    • Tuck the pits from the avocados into your guac bowl. They’ll help prevent browning, too. (But, it’s the pits trying to dip a chip into a crowded guac bowl!)
    • Some swear by mixing sour cream, Greek yogurt, or mayonnaise into guacamole, which creates a barrier or seal between the fruit and the air.
    • My personal favorite trick is to sprinkle Ball’s Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector onto a bowl of guac. You can find it in most grocery stores with the canning supplies, and this mixture of vitamin C and citric acid prevents the natural browning that comes with oxidation on cut avocados, apples, and potatoes. It’s tasteless and works great!

    If you’re looking to reduce your food waste in general, it’s helpful to learn a little bit about how to store fresh produce and prepared foods so they have a long shelf life. The U.S. EPA offers great storage tips to help your fruits and vegetables last longer.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 16, 2019

  • How to Win at Videogaming? Recycle E-Waste!

     

    Mario Brothers: How to win at videogaming? Recycle Electronic Waste!

     

    Today is National Video Game Day. Did you know 57 percent of Americans play video games?

    Maybe you used to play video games, or maybe you still do. Chances are you have games and consoles laying around that you haven’t played in some time. The nostalgic return of World of Warcraft Classic has some gamers realizing just how long they have had some games. Is it time to Marie-Kondo the collection? What should you do with games you’re not going to play anymore? Let’s take a look at the trash from one of our favorite pastimes.

    What kind of waste is a video game console? E-waste! An easy way to think of e-waste is an item (or an accessory to the item) that has a battery or a power cord. Don’t forget to use the waste hierarchy: reduce, then reuse, then recycle. First, reduce the number of physical video games you purchase—more on that later. Second, reuse by selling functioning video games and consoles through used game retail shops like GameStop or social media platforms like Facebook, or you could go retro with eBay. Also consider giving away games to friends or family. Third, only if a console is not functioning should you consider recycling it or disposing of it by taking it to an e-waste drop-off location or scheduling an e-waste pickup. Check with your local city or county government for specific guidelines regarding the proper recycling or disposal of old video games and consoles.

    What about the cartridge (or CD-ROM)? Cartridges used to store console video games, like those used with the original Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and have circuit boards made of plastic and metal components. Many of us fondly remember blowing the dust off the contacts if the console couldn’t read the game. The combination of crevices and different materials makes cartridges hard to recycle. Luckily, there are companies like TerraCycle with special collections for games and toys, including cartridges and CD-ROMs.

    With the video game industry shifting new games toward digital downloads and online streaming, gamers are faced with fewer challenges to responsibly managing game cartridges at the end of their useful life.  Buying games online results in no packaging waste and no physical media or cartridge—which is a form of source reduction. And for those looking for a quick nostalgia fix, many older games have been made available on the Nintendo, Sony, and Xbox digital stores. The cloud for the (eco) win! 

    Posted on In the Loop by Victoria Ngo on Sep 12, 2019

  • Landfills: An Un-bear-able End for Stuffed Animals

    Landfills: An UnBEARable End for Stuffed Animals

    Like any full-grown adult woman, I love stuffed animals! OK, maybe not like any full-grown adult, but over the years I amassed a collection that would put a toy store to shame. And because I’ve watched Toy Story a few too many times, I believe our toys come to life when we’re not looking—I couldn’t possibly just throw them away!

    Several years ago, I finally faced the music and realized I needed to pare down my stuffed animal collection. Luckily, I live near a children’s hospital. I put all my new and gently used stuffed animals in a bag and brought them to the hospital—I was kind of a female version of Santa, but I didn’t wear a red suit. The hospital staff was very grateful! And, just like I gave toys to the children’s hospital that day, I’m going to give you some tips on how to donate or responsibly get rid of your old toys, or your children’s old toys.

    Make It a Game

    Get your kids involved in the paring-down process. If you explain that donating gently used toys to charity helps other children feel happiness and comfort, they will be happy to jump on board. Help your kids set a goal for how many toys they are willing to part with. It can be a great opportunity for children to learn compassion, how to waste less, and how to keep a tidy toy box. 

    When to Mend, When to Send (to the Trash)

    It’s best to figure out which toys are in good enough condition to pass along to someone else. If you have a broken or dirty toy, try to fix it and clean it. Your kids might realize they still want to play with it, but if it’s totally broken or beyond cleaning, it’s likely no one else wants it either. Sadly, it might be time to throw that toy away for good.

    Decisions, Decisions

    Decide which organization you’d like to donate your toys, stuffed animals, or games to. Check with places like the Goodwill, your local thrift shop, local shelters, preschools, churches, or hospitals. Always check with the organization first to find out what they do and do not accept before you drive up with a truck bed full of toys. Hospitals, in particular, often want brand-new toys for health/sanitary reasons. 

    Swap that Stuff

    Toys can also be recycled through special programs like the ones listed on Earth911.com, which is one of our favorite go-to environmental resources. Another idea is to set up a toy swap with kids at school, in your neighborhood, or with family members. It can be a fun way to get kids to share and trade for toys they want without you having to hit the store and spend money. 

    Final Thoughts

    Finally, remember why you’re donating toys in the first place: To help less fortunate children, prevent waste, and reduce clutter in your home. The purpose is not to just get rid of them, but rather thoughtfully pass them on.

    Resources:

    Stuffed Animals for Emergencies 

    Toys for Tots 

    Donation Town

     

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Sep 9, 2019