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

  • U.S. Climate Alliance Provides Climate Leadership

    On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the United Nations Paris Climate Accord, signifying a dramatic change in the nation’s approach to climate change and its effects on our natural resources, infrastructure, and public health. On the same day, California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee formed the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of states to address the existential threat of climate change. California and 14 other states have pledged to meet our share of the Paris Agreement greenhouse gas reduction targets and reduce GHG emissions by at least 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. 


    California Governor Jerry Brown, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Former Secretary of State John Kerry, Washington Governor Jay Inslee.  Photo by Nature Conservancy. 

    The Paris Agreement

    On December 12, 2015, 196 nations adopted the Paris Agreement, a legally binding framework for an internationally coordinated effort to tackle climate change. The agreement establishes a goal to reduce global temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial averages. The goal is to balance GHG emissions with sequestration efforts resulting in a net reduction in emissions. Each participating nation submitted its own plan to help meet the agreement’s goals, to be reviewed and adjusted every five years as progress is made. The Paris Agreement emphasizes global progress and recognizes that each country has a unique starting point in its aim to combat climate change. Developed countries will lead the way and support developing countries in the effort. 


    Photo Credit 2 Executive Magazine 


    The U.S. Climate Alliance

    California and other member states in the U.S. Climate Alliance are implementing policies to reduce carbon pollution and other GHGs, promote clean energy deployment, and track and report progress to the global community. In doing so, these states are growing clean energy economies, creating new jobs, protecting human health, and investing in resilient communities. 



    California Leading the Way

    Governor Jerry Brown identified six climate strategy pillars spanning every sector of the economy from transportation to power to energy to land management. A few of the actions underway:

    • California’s goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025 will significantly reduce pollution and GHGs.
    • The state is working to decarbonize its electricity sector and reach a target of 50 percent renewable energy. Energy usage goals for new residential construction (zero net energy by 2020) and commercial construction (zero net by 2030) are in place.
    • Innovative farm and ranch management practices are being promoted to build adequate organic matter in soil, increase carbon sequestration, and reduce overall GHGs.

    California has several funding mechanisms to support strategies and technologies that drive emissions reductions. Known collectively as California Climate Investments and funded through a cap-and-trade program, the state has the only multi-sector GHG emissions trading system in the United States. California Climate Investments stimulates public and private sector investment in cleaner, more efficient technologies and industrial operations. Sixty percent of proceeds are allocated to public transit, affordable housing, sustainable communities, and high-speed rail.

    CalRecycle’s own GHG reduction grant programs are funded by California Climate Investments, focusing on recycling of organics and other discards. Primary emphasis is on expanding infrastructure and local programs to divert organics from landfills, where such materials emit methane, a super-pollutant with a climate change impact 70 times greater than carbon dioxide. At a cost of about $4 per ton of GHG reductions, organics and other recycling is the most cost-effective among the state’s climate strategies.

    By committing to ambitious efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, California and its partner states in the U.S. Climate Alliance are determined to reverse the effects of climate change. Learn at the U.S. Climate Alliance website, including California’s specific plan to meet the Paris Agreement targets. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Oct 9, 2017

  • Sustainability, Fashion Merge on Designer Runway


    Upcycled art is a new genre growing in popularity among designers and makers. Rather than sourcing raw materials to create masterpieces, artists source discarded textiles in hopes that upcycled art can contribute to a more sustainable mindset in our economy and daily lives. Four percent of California’s waste stream is textiles, which are defined as items made of thread, yarn, fabric, or cloth. This may not seem like a lot until you consider that 4 percent is over 1.2 million tons of material that could be diverted from landfills and used to make new products.

    Recently I got the chance to test my design skills at Merge 2017, an upcycle fashion event hosted by the Sacramento Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). It’s a one-day event that gathers top architects and interior designers (not fashion designers!) from around Sacramento to upcycle architectural materials into chic fashion ensembles. Upholstery fabric, carpet samples, ceiling panels, and floor tiles are transformed into bodices, skirts, belts, hats, and jewelry. After a full day of designing, sewing, hair, and makeup, the event culminates in a runway show held at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria in Downtown Sacramento. This is upcycled art at its finest!

    Fashion is a big business. According to the Business of Fashion’s 2017 State of Fashion report, global fashion is a $2.4 trillion industry, or the nation-equivalent of the world’s seventh-largest economy. That’s a lot of textile material! In an era where inexpensive, seasonal clothing is common and second-hand clothing purchased at thrift stores is sometimes seen as unfashionable, fashion artists are reframing the concept of reusable textiles and paving the way for sustainable high fashion. Although it’s unlikely that many traditional fashion designers would use architectural materials for their garments like we did at Merge, the event brought awareness to upcycled fashion and inspired attendees to repurpose items rather than toss them out.  Seen in creative, artistic terms, it’s yet another pathway to casting aside self-imposed limits on fashion.

    My sister Jessica, an accomplished interior designer, led a team from Hibser Yamauchi (HY) Architects. She recruited both our mother (and her mad sewing skills) and me (pretty savvy with a glue gun) to lend a hand. Prior to the event, firms were assigned several sustainability-focused textile manufacturers who supplied them with materials. HY worked with Rockfon and Momentum Textiles, both of whom are dedicated to recycling and diverting waste from landfills when possible. 


    The theme for this year’s event was “Around the World,” and our team was assigned Russia to inspire us. We wanted to create an edgy homage to Russian ushunka hats—would you believe these faux fur accessories are combed ceiling tile fiber? We used Rockfon stone wool ceiling tiles, which are comprised of up to 42 percent recycled content. Rockfon reduces its environmental impact by diverting 95 percent of its production waste from landfills.


    Our dress was constructed from Momentum Textiles Crypton Green upholstery fabric.  My mom’s skills came in handy, since we couldn’t use a pattern and had to create our own on the spot and then tailor the garment to our model. Momentum creates fabrics from recycled fibers, and their Crypton Greenfield Gold Certification fabrics are constructed in an environmentally conscious way and have low VOCs.

    My contribution consisted of transforming a long rope of carpet sample tassels into a woven braided necklace with blue vinyl tile charms dangling from its threaded loops. We spent hours pulling tassels apart, tying 4-inch threads into a long string, braiding them together into a rope, and then crocheting a necklace to grace our model’s neckline.

    The best part was, of course, the runway walk! Our model nailed the perfect runway attitude—a little sass, a little twinkle in the eye, and alot of dramatic hip swings. The competition was fierce; although we didn’t win, we were proud of our efforts, felt good about what we created – and how we created it!


    The Sacramento chapter of the International Interior Design Association put on a stellar event and  awarded several local interior design students with scholarships. There was an electric atmosphere of creativity in the Galleria that night, and you could see the scholars beaming to be part of such a vibrant and artsy community.

    In keeping with the design principle on display that evening, the event hosts gathered up the leftover and unused architectural materials and donated them to a local organization looking for raw materials for art projects and crafts. Sometimes being sustainable is just about your perspective. I never thought of industrial building materials as suitable for the runway, but I’ll never look at a scrap of carpet the same way again! 

    CalRecycle sustainability Merge RecycleForClimate
    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Aug 7, 2017

  • Fabric Flowers Sprout from Recycled Material

    My grandmother used to say necessity is the mother of invention, and I think she was right. Californians dispose of more material during times of abundance; when the economy is flush, our wallets open wide and we buy new things, wrapped in lots of packaging, and we throw out old things. Some of these old things still have a lot of life in them, especially if we get creative!

    I come from a pretty artsy family. And we’re not the type of people to run down to the craft store to buy everything we need. Instead, we prefer to scavenge local thrift stores, yard sales, and even each other’s craft closets to assemble the materials we need to create a project.

    Fabric flowers are en vogue again, especially for country chic weddings. So, when my friend got engaged, it was only natural that I dove into my mother’s and sister’s ribbon and lace collections to assemble the material I needed to create a set of bridesmaid tote bags with accent flowers.

    Back in my grandmother’s day, fabric flowers constructed of rolled ribbon or delicately folded muslin could transform everyday dresses into Sunday best or even wedding garments. New clothes were expensive and difficult to make, so textiles were repurposed over and over again. Now, fabric flower tutorials are just a YouTube video away. Since they require just a few inches of ribbon, you can easily transform scraps that are otherwise too short for wrapping packages or tying large bows.

    Bows can be crafted from more than just recycled ribbon and lace. Small scraps of burlap, leftover canvas strips from a sewing or paint project, and even an old satin bathrobe belt can be carefully sewn or glued into concentric rows of beautiful flower petals. I like to adorn the center of each blossom with a pearl from a broken necklace strand or a glitzy vintage earring or broach.


    If you can’t raid a relative’s or friend’s stash for craft materials, visit a thrift store where donated art supplies are given or resold to the public. Take the Free Utopian Projects (Free UP) movement, for example, which promotes sustainable art practices by supplying makers with materials. Free UP Oakland has a permanent storefront filled with a hodgepodge of crafty art supplies. Guests can take one free item per day and make a donation to purchase additional items.

    Oakland is also home to the East Bay Depot for Creative Use. Founded in the late 1970s by a group of Oakland Unified School District teachers, The Depot’s initial aim was to provide reusablesupplies to educators who were often paying out of pocket to stock their classrooms. They have grown a lot since their beginning and now divert over 200 tons of reusable material from landfills each year. 


    You don’t have to be an artist to help divert reusable textiles and art materials from landfills. Consider calling your local grade schools or university art department to see if they can use your materials. Just remember that one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure … or in this case, flower!


    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jul 20, 2017