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

  • Lodi Students Learn About California Watersheds with Environmental Science Curriculum

    Three years ago, Kathy Grant, the City of Lodi Watershed Program Coordinator, enlisted the help of CalRecycle’s Office of Education and the Environment (OEE) to organize a free teacher professional development program to equip educators with resources to teach students about water. The event was such a success that the city has continued to offer the program to new teachers each school year.

    The foundational piece of the City of Lodi’s program is the Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum, a free K-12 resource from CalRecycle that uses the environment as a context for learning science and history-social science. More than half of the EEI curriculum addresses the topic of water and complements the city’s efforts to incorporate field trips, journalism, and community art into science education.

    This year’s Free Annual EEI Workshop was held in September and drew 21 teachers from the Lodi Unified School District. Teachers trained in past years’ programs returned to share stories about their experience with the curriculum and offer advice to new teachers. This year, Grant also invited representatives from the California Water Education Foundation and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, both of which offer resources that can complement the EEI curriculum. The California Water Education Foundation provides water conservation resources such as the Project WETcurriculum, and the Department of Parks and Recreation’s PORTSprogram offers online, virtual field trip resources for teachers and students.

    If teachers choose to use the EEI curriculum, the watershed program offers a $200 stipend for their classroom. Every year, she sees five to ten teachers start using the curriculum, which represents hundreds of students throughout the city.

    “Every year there’s a new face, which is all I’m personally after,” Grant says. “The teachers who use EEI become involved in the local community. We see students and teachers participating in cleanup events near local watersheds.”

    Grant is especially excited that so many educators use the curriculum as a starting place for field trips. Many teachers have reported that using the EEI curriculum in the classroom is a great way to build their students’ knowledge on a subject before venturing out on field trips. As a result, Lodi Unified teachers are taking their students out of the classrooms and into the mountains, to the Delta, to the Pacific Ocean, to see the Sandhill Cranes, and to study water quality in different watersheds around the region.

    Watershed field trips make a big impact on Lodi students. To memorialize the experience, Grant has been instrumental in coordinating a clay art build by inviting Davis clay artist Donna Billick to help students sculpt a clay mandala depicting the wildlife they saw on a field trip. Students at Heritage Elementary built a clay mural that was ultimately installed at the Lodi Library entrance. 

    image

    If you would like to host a similar training in your community, please visit the California Education and the Environment website and contact your local environmental education specialist.  

    Grant is pleased that the program has been so successful. At the end of the school year, teachers return to the workshop to present their experiences to the EEI workshop. “That’s probably the best meeting,” says Grant. “Teachers get to talk to and learn from each other.” Grant also oversees a blog dedicated to Lodi teachers using the EEI curriculum to educate students about California’s watersheds. 

    image

    The EEI curriculum supports Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, and it works well for integration with curricula for accelerated classes as well as for English language learners and students with special needs. Grant observed one class field trip during which students captured leaves, bugs, and water in a watershed. “It was rewarding to see students struggling with English get excited about looking at bugs under a microscope,” Grant says. Advanced students take field trips a step further and write newspaper articles about their favorite trip or project. Their articles are published in the Mokelumne Current, a section of the Lodi Sentinel Newspaper.  

    “Water is the most important resource we have,” Grant says. “It cuts across cultures. We shouldn’t take it for granted. The younger we can impress this upon kids, the better.”

    If you would like to learn more about the Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum, please visit our website at http://www.californiaeei.org/. The curriculum features both science and history-social science, and free face-to-face and online trainings make it easy for teachers to start utilizing the curriculum right away.  

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Feb 27, 2017

  • Super Bowl Sunday: The game. The commercials. The food.

    Sure, throw back some good grub—but don’t waste it

    Super Bowl Sunday has become the second-largest food consumption day after Thanksgiving day, according to the USDA. More than 111 million people watch the game on TV—including non-football fans, if only to nibble on hot wings and chime in on the highly anticipated commercials.

    Last year, Americans consumed 1.3 billion hot wings, 12 million slices of pizza, 14 billion hamburgers, 278 million avocados, and 51.7 million cases of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. That’s a lot of food waste, considering that we throw out about 40 percent of what we buy and prepare, according to the National Resources Defense Council.

    Check out our video on how to minimize your food waste when hosting a party, and let the game begin.

    YouTube Video link to Super Bowl Food Waste Video
    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files and TC Clark on Feb 2, 2017

  • The Impact of the Plastic Bag Ban

    With the ban on single-use plastic bags now firmly on the books in California, you might be wondering what kind of impact this will have. To answer that question, it’s worth exploring what kind of impact these bags have had on our environment and economy in the past. Let’s take a brief look at the history of plastic bags in America.

    Single-use plastic grocery bags were introduced as an alternative to paper bags in 1977. As of 2016, 90 percent of all grocery bags were plastic. Until the plastic bag ban was passed, Californians were using 13 billion to 20 billion plastic bags every year, and only 3 percent of them were recycled.

    Plastic Bags Contribute to Oil Dependence

    Thin, single-use plastic bags are a petroleum-based product, so they contribute to U.S. oil dependence and accelerate climate change. An estimated 12 million barrels of petroleum oil are used to produce 100 billion plastic bags.

    Plastic Bags Cause Marine Pollution

    image

    After 40 years of escalating plastic bag use in America, we have learned a lot about their impact on our environment. They make their way into our waterways and ultimately contribute to marine pollution. Plastic bags do not biodegrade, but instead break down into smaller pieces, which is devastating for marine life. Turtles mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them.

    Birds are drawn to them because the bacteria that clings to their natural food source also clings to the plastic. The result is that many marine animals are consuming so much indigestible plastic that they feel full but are actually starving because what they consume has no nutritional value. 

    image

    Additionally, animals get trapped in plastic and cannot get free, resulting in impaired movement or death.

    The Ocean Conservancy estimates that plastic bags kill 1 million seabirds and 100,000 other animals worldwide each year. We spend roughly $428 million each year to protect our waters from litter, and up to 25 percent of that is attributable to plastic bags alone.

    Plastic Bags Are Difficult and Expensive to Recycle

    Thin plastic bags are rarely recycled and are difficult to manage in the waste stream. They easily float out of garbage trucks and blow across transfer stations and landfills. Processing plastic bags is difficult as well, with waste sorting machines often jammed or gummed up with plastic bags, causing damage and facility downtime.

     

    image

    Sacramento has reported shutting down sorting equipment 6 times a day to remove plastic bags at its recycling facility. San Joseestimated an annual loss of $1 million each year due to plastic bag repairs in its facilities.  This is important because achieving the benefits of recycling—such as resource conservation, clean alternative energy and the slowing of climate change—relies in part on maintaining the financial viability of recycling-based enterprises.  

    A Future Without Single-Use Carryout Bags

    People are quickly adjusting to the plastic bag ban and bringing reusable bags with them to the grocery store. It’s a small step that will make a big impact for this generation and those to come.

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