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

  • 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

  • Recycling Starter Kits--A Must for Any Classroom

    Recycling Starter Kit

    Kids are heading back to school and ready to learn as summer sunshine fades into the golden glow of fall afternoons. Teachers play a vital role in educating kids and families about recycling. CalRecycle offers free Recycling Starter Kits to schools to help kick-start successful recycling programs on campus. 

    Get Your Recycling Starter Kit

    Recycling bins, printable labels, posters, and more are available at Recycling Starter Kit Order or by calling 1-800-RECYCLE. And of course, you don't have to stop with the starter kit. Just slap a label on any trash can and—voila—you've increased your recycling capacity! Most schools collect CRV-eligible bottles and cans, but you can use the bins to collect any recyclable material you want.

    Select a Campus Recycling Coordinator

    It’s helpful to designate a campus recycling coordinator. For elementary and junior high schools, a student can do the job with a teacher’s help. High school students can probably tackle this job with a little supervision from a teacher. A recycling coordinator oversees the recycling program and works to motivate others to participate. It’s a great opportunity for students to teach that recycling is everybody’s job. 

     Arrange for Collection

    Decide how to recycle the materials you collect. Talk with your facility maintenance team about on-site collection  schedules or reach out to the parent teacher association to see if a parent volunteer would be willing to take CRV-eligible bottles and cans to a recycling center to redeem the CRV cash. 

    Promote Your School’s Recycling Program

    It’s easy to get students and teachers excited about recycling. Talk about it at school assemblies and during recess and lunch times when kids are likely to have recyclable food and drink containers. Hang posters and talk about why it’s important to recycle. The easiest way to get kids excited about recycling bottles and cans is to plan how you’ll use the CRV refund money if you return the containers yourself. The Recycling Starter Kit is a simple way to introduce kids to environmental stewardship.

    Posted on In the Loop by Cyndy Paulsen and Christina Files on Aug 30, 2019