Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
It’s that time of year when parents are helping kids gear up to go back to school. It’s also a good time to hit the sustainability “reset” button because you’re already in planning mode, reorganizing your life, and buying new supplies. Here are some eco-friendly ways to pack sustainable lunches for school!
Upgrading the Lunch Box
Hopefully, you’re already packing lunches in reusable boxes or bags, but if not, it’s a good time to make the switch. Using an insulated lunch cooler or small ice packs can mean the difference between kids eating food or tossing it out. No one wants to bite into a lukewarm sandwich with mayo, right? There are many lunch totes to choose from, and there are even brown canvas bags that look like brown paper bags, if you’re waxing nostalgic.
Reusable Food Containers
When it comes to lunchtime convenience, it’s easy to grab the single-serving packages of cookies, chips, and other shacks, but all that packaging leads to a lot of waste. Reduce your waste by purchasing large bags of food and dividing individual portions into reusable containers. There are many options out there, including bento boxes for kids, silicone storage bags, and reusable beeswax food wrap.
Reduce Food Waste
Californians throw away 6 million tons of food waste every year. Reduce your children’s food waste by asking them what they actually eat and what they give or throw away and then adjust what you pack accordingly. Find out if their school participates in “share tables,” where kids can put unopened food they don’t want for others to take. Consider getting involved with your parent teacher association and raising awareness on ways to reduce food waste at school.
—Christina FilesPosted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Aug 12, 2019
Research studies and personal experiences attest that community gardens provide environmental and social benefits in the face of environmental injustices. From mitigating climate change to increasing food access, community gardens positively impact lives.
From reduced air quality to displacement after natural disasters, climate change disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color. However, community gardens can process organic waste through onsite compost operations. Composting organic waste reduces emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide, by preventing organic waste decomposition in landfills.
Community gardens make use of local organic waste, which helps reduce transportation emissions from diesel trucks taking organic waste to a large commercial facility. Reduced trucking not only mitigates climate change but also reduces local air pollution that contributes to higher levels of asthma and other serious health problems in environmental justice communities.
Composting also returns organic matter to the soil and supports the microorganisms that keep soils healthy. Since soils are a major carbon reservoir, maintaining healthy soils through compost and other methods is an important part of the multifaceted climate change mitigation strategy.
Community gardens also increase access to fresh, healthy foods. Many environmental justice communities live in food deserts, where there is limited access to affordable and nutritious food. These gardens are a source of in-season, nourishing produce. They also provide educational opportunities for adults and children to understand how their food is grown and create a working space for community members to get out in nature, which promotes mental and emotional well-being.
A community garden in Pomona, CA. Photo from Elinor Crescenzi
Boston-based researchers who partner with the environmental justice nonprofit The Food Project published a research paper (Sharp and Brabander, 2017) that discusses the social benefits of community gardens in urban spaces. Not only does urban agriculture address food deserts and access to fresh, healthy food but it also empowers youth, creates an avenue for political organizing, and provides cultural preservation through growing culturally appropriate food in immigrant communities.
CalRecycle recognizes the important role of community gardens in environmental justice communities. That is why CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline announced the department’s new “Community Composting” grant program in March. The program will fund composting and related activities in community gardens that divert organic waste from landfills in environmental justice communities.The Environmental Justice Program at CalRecycle is also hosting a brown bag speaker series to elevate the ways in which environmental justice communities are impacted by and interact with the waste sector. The next brown bag event will feature Elinor Crescenzi, a community gardener, doctoral student, and social justice activist from Pomona. Elinor will describe the scientific research supporting the social, environmental, and health benefits of community gardens. She will also discuss the success and challenges of community gardens in Pomona, including organic waste processing capacity with on-site composting. Please join us this week in the Coastal Hearing Room on July 10 from noon to 1 p.m., or join us by webcast.Posted on In the Loop by Ciaran Gallagher on Jul 8, 2019
Summer is wedding season! While it’s a time for love, family, friends, and happiness, weddings can also lead to a lot of waste. The good news is you have the power to prevent it! Whether you’re planning a wedding for a future date or you’re putting the final touches on your upcoming summer nuptials, these tips can help you tie the knot the sustainable way.
Close to the Heart
Destination weddings are an effective way to combine honeymoons, get away from your usual surroundings, and cut down on the guest list (not everyone is willing to travel to the Bahamas for a few days). But traveling to exotic, far-off lands can also be taxing on the planet due to emissions from planes, trains, and automobiles. If possible, opt for a venue closer to home where guests won’t have to travel far and can carpool together. Outdoor venues are also a good option—let the sun be your light source during the day, and use solar-charged lights in the evening.
It’s 2019—why are we still sending things via snail mail? OK, a wedding is a little different since it’s a special occasion, but if you want to cut down on paper waste and costs, sending out an evite is another viable option. Paperless invitations can still be elegant, classy, and unique while being cost-effective and wasteless. If there are some family members who don’t have email addresses (we’re talking to you, Aunt Ida), you can still print and send a handful of invitations without breaking the bank or the environment. And, if you’d like a keepsake for your wall or wedding album, you can print one out, too.
Do the Environment a Favor
Unfortunately, party favors are one of the biggest offenders at weddings. While they’re a traditional and fun way to take the happy occasion home with you, they often end up in the trash. If you’re willing, forego the little gifts altogether and give a small donation to a charity in your guests’ name. Or, give something that will eventually leave little to no waste, like small jars of honey, cute plants, tea/coffee/spice blends, or reusable bags, cups, or straws. Consider this rule of thumb at bridal showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties as well.
Dress to Impress ... the Earth
What do they say about weddings? Everyone will remember the dress and the cake! It’s so tempting to want to buy the most expensive, elegant, show-stopping dress, but secondhand or heirloom dresses are an often overlooked option. Besides, heirloom dresses have special meaning when you know they’re being lovingly handed down from a cherished family member or friend. Also, men rent tuxedos, so what’s the big deal about women renting dresses?
Let Them Eat Cake
Then send them home with leftovers! That goes for any food you may have at the end of the reception. The best way to handle food is to find out how many guests will be attending and plan for that number to prevent food waste altogether. But, if that doesn’t work out, you have a few options. Have your catering company, if you use one, pack up leftovers for guests. Or, you can donate uneaten food to local organizations for the food-insecure. Yes, it can be done, despite what your catering company might say! It’s important to make sure you have a food waste prevention or donation plan in place before the big day.
Continue the Celebration
Did you know you can donate a lot of items that can be reused after your wedding? Flowers can be donated and rearranged for hospitals, hospice facilities, and elderly communities to brighten people’s day. You can also allow your guests to take arrangements home, but whatever you do, don’t just toss all those flowers in the trash. Organic waste makes up the largest part of the waste stream. Decorations, dresses, favors, unwanted gifts that weren’t on your carefully curated registry, and wedding prep supplies can all be donated to prevent waste and allow someone else a chance to celebrate on a budget.
Sure, most of us love the excitement of getting and unwrapping gifts! But, before you get giddy with the registry scanner, consider requesting funds for your honeymoon instead. Cash is always a good way to go, but if you’d like to suggest your guests contribute to a fund that will help you pay for fun activities, there are several honeymoon registry sites. The highlight of your honeymoon could be that your loved ones help pay for it! Who needs another toaster that will eventually break and end up in the trash anyway? Plus, imagine all that shredded foil, glittery paper and ribbons—you can’t recycle that stuff!
If you’re into environmentalism, these tips are a great way to bring awareness to your guests and prevent waste. And they’re all great suggestions for saving money, too!Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jun 27, 2019