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

  • Treat Yo’self and the Environment: Part II

    A How-to on Self-Care for You and the Planet

    If you’ve ever felt like screaming at the top of your lungs in frustration or felt so drained you just couldn’t seem to drag yourself out of bed in the morning, you may be in need of some serious self-TLC. It’s important to make time to do something for yourself so you can recharge and start tackling the world again. Here are some ways you can reconnect with yourself without leaving a giant footprint on the planet.

    Breathe In and Smell the Roses

    Few of us take the time to really focus on our breathing because it’s automatic, but breathing deeply can have a big impact on your physical and mental well-being. Practice square breathing (or your technique of choice) in your garden or another place you feel comfortable. If you want to go that extra mile, plant a tree, flowers, or other greenery. Plants are known to suck in all that “bad” air and provide us with clean oxygen to breathe. How selfless of them! When you feel like you’ve mastered your breathing technique, you can really stop and smell those roses.

    Unplug: FOMO No Mo

    How often do you find yourself grabbing your phone because you thought you heard it? Or, how many times do you go online to check your social media because you think you’re missing out on something? We’ve all been there! Schedule a day without your phone, computer, TV, or radio, and then let your friends and family know you’ll be offline (unless there’s an emergency). If you can’t go a whole day, try just a few hours. Make sure you put your electronics away between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. to give yourself some time away from the alerts, photos, lights, and drama that come with technology. It’ll be difficult at first, but you’ll see how much better you feel when you’re not a slave to your phone. Literally unplugging will save energy on your phone and computer, and on any other unused appliances around your home. Ever heard of vampire energy?

    Get Moving

    Movement is one of the best things you can do for your physical and mental wellbeing, especially when you find something that works for you. Go online and look for exercise classes in your area. Then ride your bike, walk, or carpool there with your workout buddy. Many cities have free yoga classes in the park, or you can get trial passes at local gyms. Many gyms want you to try out their facilities, so you can ask for a free weekly pass and hop around until you find one that suits you needs. The best parts about this are 1) trials are often free, 2) you’re getting exercise, and 3) you’re not negatively affecting the environment by making waste, especially if you use alternative modes of transportation.

    Get Crafty

    Building or making things often gives us confidence, which feels great, right? Try getting crafty with salvaged items from your home, thrift shops, or yard sales, or from found items. Our Pinterest page has lots of upcycle ideas, from everyday projects to special occasion projects that can turn your home into a showplace and make you feel proud. If you get really good, you can give away or sell your items so everyone can enjoy them. And who doesn’t love getting a compliment on something they created? As always, exercise safety and caution when salvaging items.

    Again, self-care can play a big part in mental, physical, and relationship health. While it may seem selfish, carving out time to do things you enjoy—whatever those activities are—can make a big difference in your mood and help you deal with life’s stressors. The most important part is to find something that works for you as an individual, and of course, take


    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Sep 26, 2018

  • Autumn: Prime time for backyard composting

    Summer has given way to autumn, and we’re pulling on our boots and clomping off to the coffee shop for pumpkin-spice lattes. And soon, my backyard tree will be dropping enough leaves to ramp up my suburban compost bin again.

    My city provides me with a “brown bin” that I can use for organic waste, so even when I’m not composting with my bin, my organic waste is not decomposing in a landfill somewhere and generating methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.

    But I enjoy playing weekend farmer in my little backyard, and my compost bin is magic: I toss in banana peels and coffee grounds, and I pull out a rich, nutritious soil amendment. And there are benefits to making my own compost rather than buying it at a garden supply store: I know exactly what’s in it, I don’t have to pay for it, and I don’t need to haul it home.

    At CalRecycle, we get pretty excited about composting, so we’ve got all sorts of resources for people who want to start composting, increase or improve their compost yield, or troubleshoot potential problems. The trick, I think, is to not get bogged down trying to figure out the perfect system. Just pick a bin that works for the space you have, and get started. You can fine-tune later. For all my worries, I have never seen a rodent around my bin, and I’ve never had a smelly bin. (Since my neighbors are very close by, I tend to keep my pile a little drier than optimal just to be on the safe side as far as odor goes. I pay for that caution with a slower composting process.)

    Be sure to check out CalRecycle’s backyard composting primer, complete with directions, explanations, and links to additional resources. Here’s a quick look at the process, which should reduce the intimidation factor and get you started:

    First, get a bin. (I love my stackable bin, but my city gives away a hoop bin to residents. Check with your city or local jurisdiction.) You can also build a bin. An optimal bin is about 3 feet wide, 3 feet deep, and 3 feet tall. Then, follow these steps:

    • Start with a layer of “brown” material such as dried leaves and twigs. This material provides carbon for the pile.
    • Add a layer of “green” material like coffee grounds, tea bags, and produce scraps. This provides nitrogen.
    • Mix it up with a shovel or pitchfork. (Or, “turn it,” as compost folks like to say.)
    • Add water until it’s the consistency of a wrung-out sponge.
    • Top the pile with just enough “brown” material so no “green” material is exposed.
    • Give it another light watering.
    • Wait as long as you like. Days, weeks, whatever works for you.

    Then repeat. That’s all!

    Once the magic starts to happen and you discover your kitchen scraps have actually turned into a rich, moist soil amendment, you can decide how much effort and precision you’d like to put into your compost project. If you go for “gourmet” composting, you’ll get much more (and higher quality) material. If, like me, you stick with “casual” composting, you’ll still get enough to energize your spring veggies and ornamentals, plus more for mulching.

    If you don’t have the space for a composting bin, consider community-scale composting and get to know your neighbors. Whether you turn your own bin or work in a group plot, you’ll all have good “dirt” to share over your coffee drinks.

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Sep 25, 2018

  • CalRecycle Director Talks Food Waste Prevention

    San Francisco hosted California’s first Global Climate Action Summit earlier this month, drawing governors, mayors, business executives, and leaders from around the world. In addition to new climate-focused pledges from governments and promises from companies, participants stood united to show how bold actions to combat climate change can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen economies, and provide models of success for others to follow.

    “A key premise of the conference was that if a handful of leading-edge states, cities and businesses can demonstrate that it’s feasible—and even lucrative—to go green in their own backyards, they might inspire others to follow suit. That, in turn, could make it easier for national leaders to act more forcefully.” —New York Times

    At an affiliate event titled “More Feast, Less Footprint: New Goals and Progress Towards Wasting Less Food,” panel discussions focused on efforts to reduce the estimated 1.4 billion tons of food wasted across the world every year. That’s roughly one-third of the global food supply.

    Left to right: Scott Smithline, CalReycle; John Dannan, Generate Capital;  Geeta Sethi, World Bank; Chris Cochran, ReFED.

    Left to right: Scott Smithline, CalReycle; John Dannan, Generate Capital;  Geeta Sethi, World Bank; Chris Cochran, ReFED.

    CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline joined representatives from ReFED, Generate Capital, and the World Bank for a discussion called “Financing the Change.” Smithline spoke about CalRecycle’s new Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program, which awarded $9.4 million to 31 projects earlier this year.

    The goals of the grant program include:

    • Decreasing the estimated 6 million tons of food waste landfilled in California each year, and
    • Increasing the state’s capacity to collect, transport, store, and distribute more food for the roughly 1 in 8 Californians who are food-insecure.

    When sent to landfills, food and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas with a heat-trapping effect at least 86 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year span.

    “Bolstering California’s food recovery infrastructure will help feed communities in need, create new jobs, and result in significant greenhouse gas reductions,” Director Smithline said when the grant awards were announced. “Our hope is that these programs will inspire similar efforts throughout California.”

    CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    During the “Financing the Change” discussion, Director Smithline also spoke of the importance of food waste prevention and rescue in achieving success in SB 1383, California’s new law to combat climate change by getting organic waste out of landfills. At 23 million tons, organics is by far the largest material type landfilled in California each year. SB 1383 mandates a 50 percent reduction in organic waste disposal by 2020 and a 75 percent reduction by 2025, as well as actions to redirect 20 percent of currently disposed, edible food to Californians in need.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Sep 21, 2018