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

  • Praising Environmental Heroes During Women’s History Month

    March is Women’s History Month, and CalRecycle would like to honor the many women who have strengthened our legacy of protecting the environment and encouraging others to do the same. Here are four women who have made an impact on the world by bringing environmental issues to the forefront and educating others on conservation.



    Photo: Rolex Awards/Francois Schaer

    Maritza Morales Casanova 

    Maritza Morales Casanova is the founder of the Mexican environmental organization Humanity United to Nature in Harmony for Beauty, Welfare, and Goodness (HUNAB). HUNAB is working toward the sustainable development of Mayan communities with environmental education. The organization focuses on developing educational materials, including an environmental education center and courses and workshops. Casanova is one of National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers, described by the organization as “those making discoveries, making a difference, and inspiring people to care about the planet.” She founded an environmental theme park called Ceiba Pentandra Park in Yucatan, which provides an environmental learning experience for children and teachers on climate change and resource conservation. The president of Mexico awarded her the National Youth Award for Environmental Protection in 1998, when she was only 13 years old. In 2012, she was distinguished as a Rolex Young Laureate for the Environment.


    Elizabeth Kolbert

    Elizabeth Kolbert is an American environmental writer whose books include Sixth Extinction and Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate ChangeHer accolades include winning the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s magazine writing award, a Heinz Award and Guggenheim Fellowship, and two National Magazine awards. She is also a staff writer at The New Yorker – check out some of her recent New Yorker articles.


    Celia Hunter

    Celia Hunter was an American Environmentalist who is most well known for her conservation efforts in Alaska. She was co-founder of the Alaska Conservation Foundation and fought to protect Alaska’s natural terrain. Already a trained pilot when World War II began, Hunter served as a Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) and flew U.S.-based missions to support training, supply, and personnel movements. Struck by the fact that the military confined female-piloted missions to the lower 48 states, Hunter and fellow WASP pilot Ginny Hill Wood flew to Fairbanks, Alaska on their own after the war. They fell in love with the Alaskan landscape and eventually opened Camp Denali, a simple campground for those who wanted to explore Alaska. Soon after, Hunter saw the need to protect the foothills of Alaska’s Brooks Range, and she eventually founded the Alaskan Conservation Society to protect all of Alaska’s wilderness. Hunter received several awards over her lifetime, including the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award, given to those who have demonstrated a lifetime of dedicated conservation work and a distinguished record of achievement in national conservation causes.


    Susan D. Shaw


    Susan D. Shaw is an American environmentalist known for her research on the health effects of chemical exposure on marine wildlife and humans. In 2010, Shaw worked with the Department of the Interior to assess the impact of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and to make policy recommendations to the federal government. In an interview with Audubon Magazine, Shaw shared her alarming findings: the chemical dispersant that was used to break up the oil made it easier for oil to contaminate marine life and humans who come into contact with the oily water. To learn more about her work in the Gulf, check out her Ted Talk titled “The oil spill’s toxic trade-off.”

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Mar 15, 2018

  • CalRecycle Celebrates African American Environmentalists

    During Black History Month, we honor African Americans who have strengthened our legacy of protecting the environment and encouraging others to do the same. Here are just three of those environmental heroes. Thank you, Shelton Johnson, Warren Washington, and Beverly Wright.


    Shelton Johnson

    Shelton Johnson is a park ranger with the U.S. National Park Service. He has worked in Yosemite for 25 years and made multiple appearances in the Ken Burns documentary series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” In an interview with SFGate, Johnson said, “For me, the Buffalo Soldier history is a way of reconnecting African Americans to the land that shaped our consciousness. You don’t have to go back to Africa to reconnect with nature, to understand its value and to know that it is an essential part of our shared history. It is right here.”

    Johnson wrote and performs “Yosemite Through the Eyes of a Buffalo Soldier, 1904,” at the park. He has received numerous awards, including the “National Freeman Tilden Award” as the best interpreting ranger in the National Park Service for his work with Burns, and an Environmental Leadership Award from UC Berkeley.

    Check out Shelton Johnson’s dramatic interpretation of a Buffalo Soldier at Yosemite.



    Warren Washington

    Dr. Warren Washington, a Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has developed computer models that have helped scientists understand climate change. He has conducted research for more than 50 years and has been published in more than 150 publications, including an autobiography titled “Odyssey in Climate Model, Global Warming, and Advising Five Presidents.” Washington has served on the President’s National Advisory Commission on Oceans and Atmosphere and has had appointments under the Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush administrations. As the second African American to earn a doctorate in the atmospheric sciences, Washington has served as a role model for generations of young researchers. For his mentoring and education and outreach work, in 1999 he received the Dr. Charles Anderson award from the American Meteorological Society.


    Beverly Wright

    Beverly Wright is a professor of Sociology and the founding director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) at Dillard University in New Orleans. For nearly two decades, she has been a leading scholar and advocate in the Environmental Justice arena. The DSCEJ is one of the few community/university partnerships that addresses environmental and health inequities in the Lower Mississippi River Industrial Corridor, an area commonly referred to as Cancer Alley. After Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Wright advocated for the safe return of residents to their homes in the midst of health and environmental concerns caused by the hurricane and its aftermath.

    Wright provided valuable input into President Bill Clinton’s Environmental Justice Transition paper. For her work, she was called to the White House February 1994 to witness the signing of the Executive Order on Environmental Justice. In April 1994, she was named to the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). She has received numerous awards, including the Environmental Justice Achieve Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Wright has also written two books and numerous articles on environmental justice.

    Each of these esteemed individuals represent the very best our nation has to offer in meeting the singular challenges of climate change, environmental justice and safeguarding human dignity. We salute them, and all of their peers of every race, creed, and color who devote their lives to the collective fate of ourselves and the environment that surrounds us, serves us—and depends on us.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Feb 26, 2018

  • Maximizing the Holidays and Minimizing Waste


    Every year, we talk about the impact the holiday season has on our waste stream. From Halloween through the New Year, Americans ramp up their spending—on decorations, food celebrations, gift exchanges, and gift-wrapping supplies.

    We all get to choose the way we embrace an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Some of us choose to bike to work, while others choose to ride public transportation. Some abandon plastic saran wrap, while others switch to reusable containers with lids. For me, the holiday season is all about striking a fine balance between celebrating abundantly and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. If you’re following my blog posts here, you’ll know I favor handmade holiday decorations and gifts, but I’m still trying to find my stride with the approaching holidays.

    I’ve wondered if there is a “keystone habit” that would set me up for sustainable success. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, coined this phrase to describe an activity that is correlated with other good habits—in other words, making one good choice can have a domino effect on the rest of your life. For example, those who exercise tend to eat better. Those who eat family dinners tend to benefit from lower food costs, better nutrition and health, healthier marriages, and academically successful children.  

    With the holidays approaching, I’ve developed a list of keystone habits to guide me through the season. 



    Cook Smaller Meals at Home (Skip the Leftovers!)

    Most of the time, I cook a larger dinner meal that results in leftovers that I take to work for lunch or stretch out on nights I don’t want to cook. During the holiday season, I eat out more frequently and attend multiple parties, so these leftovers are harder to consume before they turn. Food waste constitutes about 20 percent of our waste stream, and I’m doing my part in December by making my grocery trips smaller and focusing on cooking food that can be eaten in two meals instead of four. I also shop for special meals (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day dinners) separately from my everyday shopping, because it helps me keep track of what I anticipate being eaten. Otherwise, I end up tossing things in my cart and thinking, if we don’t eat it on Thanksgiving, we’ll eat it later in the weekend, which inevitably results in over shopping and food waste.  



    Give Fewer and More Meaningful Gifts

    This year, my family members collectively fessed up and admitted we have too much stuff and don’t need anything. Our Santa lists are shorter and include a handful of things that we would really appreciate. Some of us are pooling resources to buy larger gifts, while others are choosing to buy experience gifts like cooking lessons and tickets to a Broadway show. I’ve also decided to focus on buying high-quality jewelry for the women in my life rather than costume jewelry. I may give fewer pieces, but nice jewelry is usually more timeless than this season’s trends and much less likely to end up in a landfill in a few years. I’m also compiling photos into a special picture book, which has a lot of sentimental value and will be cherished for years to come. And don’t forget to check out my blog entry on Reusable Holiday Wrapping.


    Decorate with Compostable Decorations

    This year I’m channeling my inner Colonial Williamsburg, Little Women craftswoman and heading to the orchard rather than the craft store for inspiration. Early American Christmas decorations consisted of fresh greenery, fruit, nuts, pinecones, and spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise pods. This year, I’m aiming to dry orange, grapefruit, and apple slices for wreathes, garlands, and ornaments. At the end of the season, I can toss these decorations into the compost pile.

    As the holidays unfold and my schedule gets busier, it takes a little more effort to keep sustainability in mind. But I’m armed with a plan and keystone habits to guide me through the New Year. What kind of keystone habits will you put in place?

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Dec 11, 2017