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

  • Earth Day - Americans Take Action to Protect Our Future

    Kids holding earth globe in park

    The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is April 22. As we stay home to save lives, we can use our unified spirit to help save the planet, as well.

    In the decades before Earth Day was founded, U.S. industry boomed with progress that included large, leaded fuel-guzzling cars and factories belching pollutants. The first Earth Day brought together everyday Americans, who called for a stop to the damage to water, air, plant life, and wildlife around them.

    20 Million Americans Demanded Control over Pollution

    After witnessing the aftermath of a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin organized the first Earth Day in 1970. It catalyzed the simmering environmental movement, launching it to the forefront of American consciousness.

    Smoggy LA skyline

    Photo of smoggy Los Angeles courtesy of U.S. EPA

    Earth Day harnessed the passion of separate groups fighting against power plants, toxic waste sites, oil spills, car emission pollution, and the loss of forests. It pushed conservation, pollution management, and environmental stewardship to national awareness. The first Earth Day celebration acted as a cultural tipping point as 20 million Americans gathered to demand real change.

    Smoke billowing from factory smoke stack

    Unregulated factories bellowing toxic smoke were common before the US EPA formed in 1970.

    It Didn’t Happen Overnight

    • Eight years earlier, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, a groundbreaking book that critically examined the impact of industrialization on our planet. Carson observed that the heavy use of pesticides was killing off birds, making the forests silent. Some credit her book with jump-starting the environmental movement.
    • When the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire in 1969, it spurred demand for pollution control and a Federal Clean Water Act.
    Picture of earth from moon

    In 1968, NASA’s space program photos of the earth from the Apollo 8 mission communicated the smallness and fragility of our planet when seen from the distance and vastness of space.

    Congress Responds with the U.S. EPA

    Real change came less than eight months after the first Earth Day in December 1970 when Congress created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to tackle environmental issues. By the U.S. EPA’s tenth anniversary, Congress had passed significant legislation that laid the foundation for environmental regulation, including:

    • Banning the toxic pesticide DDT
    • Setting new car emissions standards and national air quality standards
    • Improving water treatment facilities
    • Addressing the practice of dumping chemicals into rivers and lakes

    As a leader in environmental policy, California established its own laws to care for our state.

    Photo of 1987 garbage barge in New York Harbor with Statue of Liberty in the background.

    The Garbage Barge Made Us Think Seriously About Trash

    In 1987 New York, like much of the country, experienced a shortage of landfill space, and local officials decided to ship 3,168 tons of trash to a North Carolina facility pilot program that would convert the trash into methane. North Carolina officials unexpectedly declined the load and the Garbage Barge, followed closely in national news coverage, continued to sail down and back up the North American coast looking for a place to unload. Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, and Belize also declined to accept it. After eight months at sea the barge returned to New York, which incinerated the trash and buried the ashes.

    Finding the Best, Highest Use for Our Trash

    This incident highlighted how poorly the country was managing its waste and helped usher into law California’s Integrated Waste Management Act, which established our 50 percent diversion jurisdictional requirement. The state has passed other significant legislation to recycle bottles, cans, tires, paint, motor oil, and mattresses. In 2016 a new recycling law passed to address organics waste, which makes up two-thirds of the trash sent to landfills. Reaching the law’s goals would reduce landfill methane emissions and divert 20 percent of currently disposed edible food to the one in eight Californians who don’t know where their next meal will come from.

    Saving Lives and Saving the Planet from Home

    Earth Day has always centered on everyday Americans taking action to create cleaner air, water, and land. We can speak out to support policy that protects the environment. But we now have awareness of steps we can take in our daily lives that will save energy, reduce pollution, support renewable resources, and allow us to continue our convenient lifestyles without destroying our future.

    Kids carrying recyclables

    You can even take action to help the environment from the safety of your own home.

    Do you:

    • Recycle
    • Use LED light bulbs
    • Have energy and water efficient appliances
    • Have a drought tolerant yard
    • Reuse water bottles
    • Compost
    • Take other action to help the Earth in your own way?

    Woman using water filter and reusable bottle. Earth Days 50th birthday. hash tag how I save the planet. hash tag Cal Earth Day 50

    Post a photo, story, or video with #HowISaveThePlanet on our social media showing how you make every day Earth Day in your home.

    Follow CalRecycle and CalEPA on social media for fun virtual Earth Day activities and see Californians come together to save the planet as we stay home to save lives.

    Facebook.     Twitter

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Public Affairs - Chris McSwain, Christina FIles, and Maria West on Apr 13, 2020

  • 5 Ways to Save the Planet (and Entertain the Kids) While Staying Home

     

    Lance with his son dressed up with tissue paper.

     

    We’re all in this together. If it wasn’t clear before this global health pandemic, it is now. Beating COVID-19 requires all of us to adopt new habits and lifestyle changes to keep a bad situation from getting worse. Since beating pollution and climate change requires a similar mix of individual and collective action, why not take steps that help achieve both health and safety goals?

    Here are 5 ways to help save the planet (and entertain the kids) while staying home to save lives. 

    1. Repurpose Used Materials for Learning Aids 

    With schools and daycares closed, it’s tempting to hop online and stock up on flashcards, workbooks, or other pre-packaged learning activities. First, see what you can do with the materials you already have at home.

    A quick check of the EPA's Waste Management Hierarchy details how we conserve natural resources, save energy, and reduce pollution (including greenhouse gas emissions) by reusing what we have instead of buying new.

     

    Son playing with crafts made from reusable materials around house.

     

    My nearly four-year-old son is very active. After his daycare closed, we made a project out of repurposing old envelopes, recipe cards, used greeting cards, cereal boxes, construction paper, and old colored eggs into new games that support letter, number, and shape recognition. 

    • Combats COVID-19: No need to leave home or bring new items inside.
    • Combats Climate Change: Reducing waste and reusing materials results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste collection and raw material extraction, processing, and delivery.
    • Combats Child Boredom: Have fun making and using these new learning aids.

    More online resources: California Education and the Environment Initiative Downloadable Curriculum, Recycle Rex Activities

    2. Turn Old Toys and Materials into New Fun

    Even the coolest new toys lose their fun eventually. It happens much quicker when you’re cooped up inside. Even before the stay-at-home order, our family developed the habit of packing certain toys or activities away in the closet for future fun. Our son is always surprised when old favorites come back into the toy rotation. Along those lines, I’m finding you can make a toy or activity out of just about anything if you take a look at your “storage” through the eyes of a child.

     

    toys stored in closet, kids playing with new toys

     

    As social distancing limits our options for outside fun, we’re getting creative with the toys and materials packed away inside. Rotating toys helps keep the walkie-talkies from Grandma and the wooden train set from Santa feeling like new, no matter how old they are. What else do you have packed away? We spent a good hour playing dress-up with used bows and tissue paper—and we can still use the materials for future gifts.

    • Combats COVID-19: No need to leave home or bring new items inside.
    • Combats Climate Change: Reducing waste and reusing materials results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste collection and raw material extraction, processing, and delivery.
    • Combats Child Boredom: Create new fun by getting creative with old toys and materials.

    More online resources: Parade, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Crafts

    3. Get Cooking

    Weekend visits to farmers markets and restaurants were great ways to spend a few hours prior to COVID-19. Since these outings are no longer family-friendly, we’re doing a lot more cooking and baking at home. From assembling ingredients to measuring, stirring, pouring, cooking, and cleanup—it’s a great way to spend time indoors. Limiting the frequency of trips to the store also provides an opportunity to get creative with ingredients. Use what you have. Stretch your supplies. Let no ingredient go to waste.

     

    Lance cooking with his son

     

    My little one is always game for scooping flour, maneuvering the hand mixer, and licking beaters, but now we’re venturing beyond sweet treats. In the past few weeks, he’s mastered new skills like measuring spices, picking through pinto beans, snapping green beans, and cracking eggs. Don’t worry about the mess. Cleanup is another family activity!

    • Combats COVID-19: Reduce trips to the store by making the most of what you have on hand.
    • Combats Climate Change: Fewer emissions from fewer trips, and more food eaten instead of landfilled—where food and other organic waste emits methane as it decomposes.
    • Combats Child Boredom: Prep, cooking, and cleanup can keep you up busy for an entire morning or afternoon.

    More online resources: CalRecycle ‘In the Loop Blog, Taste of Home

    4. Bring Back the ‘Rag Bag’

    Ditching single-use disposables for reusable items can be easier said than done. The recent scarcity of paper products makes this the time to embrace reducing. Our family said farewell to paper plates nearly two years ago because of the cost. More frequent plate washing was an easy tradeoff for me. I found it harder to use less paper towels.

    The recent hoarding behavior cleared paper towels from my local store shelves, so we’ve adjusted. My grandmother never had paper towels. If you wanted to clean something, you’d reach for her “rag bag” filled with old towel squares and clothing scraps. So, we decided to start a rag bag comprised of old t-shirts and burp rags.

     

    Lance's son cleaning the windows.

     

    We've managed two weeks with no paper towels, and it's getting easier. We wipe faces, spills, and windows with old cotton textiles. It works just fine. My family would have likely used up two or three rolls of paper towels by now. Cheers to not.

    • Combats COVID-19: No need to leave home or bring new items inside.
    • Combats Climate Change: Reducing waste and reusing materials results in fewer greenhouse gas emissions associated with waste collection and raw material extraction, processing, and delivery.
    • Combats Child Boredom: Ripping up old clothes and cleaning the house can be fun activities for kids, if you approach it with enthusiasm and lots of validation.  😉

    More online resources: Mother Nature Network, Huffington Post

    5. Do it Yourself

    Necessity is the mother of invention, or so we’re learning. Since COVID-19 forced all of us to reconsider the true definition of “essential services,” our family has embraced a do-it-yourself mindset whenever possible. In addition to cooking more from scratch, we busted out the needle and thread to make clothing repairs, landscaped using old tree stumps and leftover stones, and even dusted off the old clippers for at-home haircuts.

     

    Lance's son raking leaves and getting a haircut.

     

    Not every family can manage do-it-yourself haircuts, but DIY opportunities surround you. What else do you have to do?

    • Combats COVID-19: No need to leave home or bring new items inside.
    • Combats Climate Change: Reduce energy use and associated greenhouse emissions by performing your own "essential activities." 
    • Combats Child Boredom: Teach life skills while spending quality time with the kids. It's a win-win. 

    More online resources: DIY Network, BuzzFeed

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Apr 6, 2020

  • It's Earth Day's Birthday! How Can You Save the Planet from Home?

     

     

    Girl holding globe

     

    While we stay home to save lives, protecting the environment is still an important part of remaining healthy. With Earth Day just three weeks away, CalRecycle launches our online Earth Month Extravaganza today in collaboration with the rest of CalEPA!  

    Follow and engage with us on social media throughout April and join us for a special Earth Day event on April 22nd.
     
    You can still make a positive difference from home. Help us turn Earth Day’s 50th Birthday into a movement!
     
    • Look for games, at-home conservation tips, and an eco-scavenger hunt from CalEPA and its office, boards, and departments throughout April.
    • Join CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld for virtual coffee breaks throughout the month with special guests who will share exciting, innovative ideas and projects.
    • Inspire California with your secrets to help the environment.

    woman helping child plant tree

    Use #HowISavethePlanet to share how you and your family protect our environment every day.

     

    cute little boy standing on a tree branch

     

    Use #WhyISavethePlanet to show California what inspires you to protect the Earth – including your children and favorite places in nature.

    • Like and share your colleagues’ posts – and CalEPA will do the same.
    • On April 22, tune into the CalEPA’s Earth Day online event for fun, informative, and inspiring moments.
    • Invite your kids, friends, and community organizations to participate!
    • Don’t forget to use #CalEPAEarthDay50 on all of your posts!

    These last weeks have shown that we can all work together remotely to protect our health. Let’s harness this unity to make the whole planet healthier.

    Share your thoughts and insights with us on your favorite social media platforms through the following links:

     

    CalEPA Logo.     Facebook.    Twitter 

     

    CalRecycle Logo.     Facebook.     Twitter

     

    California Air Resources Board Logo.      Twitter

     

     

    California State Water Resources Control Board.      Twitter

     

    California Department of Pesticide Regulation logo.     Facebook.      Twitter

     

    California Department of Toxic Substances Control logo.     Facebook.     Twitter

     

    CA Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment logo.     Facebook.     Twitter

     

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Apr 3, 2020