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

  • Eight Ways to Stretch Your Food While Quarantined

    The average family of four spends $150 on uneaten food each year

     

    Most of us are sheltering-in-place right now, having already stocked up on non-perishable canned and frozen food. Since every foray into society could bring exposure to COVID-19, consider ways to maximize the food you have to last as long as possible and save you trips to the grocery store.  It will also help you reduce food waste, a major contributor of greenhouse gases coming out of landfills.

    Here are eight ways to stretch the food you’ve saved:

    1. Make a double batch of sauces, stews, beans, and casseroles, and save the rest in the freezer for a future weeknight dinner with zero cooking.
    2. Create a scrap bag in your freezer to use to make stock for soups and sauces. I have a scrap bag in my freezer full of food scraps. Any time you peel a carrot, slice an onion, or cut the edges off a bell pepper, you can divert the leftovers from the garbage into the scrap bag kept in the freezer. Once the scrap bag is full, simmer the contents with water over low heat for about an hour, then save the liquid for a tasty stock to make soups and sauces. Cook rice, beans, or quinoa in it to add extra flavor. 
    3. Keep bread in the freezer and defrost a slice or two when you need them.
    4. Dried beans are cheap and freeze easily. You can cook a double batch in your crock pot and freeze half for an easy meal.
    5. Soups hold up well when they’re stored in containers in the freezer. You can even freeze individual servings for a quick meal on demand.
    6. Buy meat in bulk, divide it into single portions, and defrost as you need them. Meats can be cheaper in bulk and often have less packaging.
    7. Fruits like berries are simple to freeze. Place them on a cookie sheet, freeze them overnight, and transfer them to an empty container to store in the freezer. Frozen berries liven up morning smoothies.
    8. Butter freezes well and is easy to defrost when you get the baking itch. It’s also often cheaper to buy in bulk.

       

      I hope these tips are as useful to you. To learn more about preventing food waste, please visit Save The Food. Interested in other ways to reduce food waste? Check out the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Mar 23, 2020

  • Reducing is the New Recycling

    Simple Changes I’ve Made Since Coming to Work at CalRecycle

    Sometime in the last year, I had an epiphany: It’s not enough to simply recycle. I must figure out a way to reduce the amount of waste I generate. It can be hard, but I decided to take it one step at a time. Here are a couple of things I have learned along my way to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. 

    Separating Out My Recyclables Influences How I Shop

    Truth be told, before working at CalRecycle I only separated out CRV items and cardboard to recycle. I honestly didn’t think about folding down cereal and pasta boxes or crumpling paper shipping packaging into a recycling bin before working here. Now that I do it, I realize just how many resources I have thrown away over my lifetime. 

    I have found that I have unintentionally generated more waste in the pursuit of other goals. For example, conveniently packaged individual-size snacks may help with calorie-counting or meal prep, but there’s no doubt it creates more waste. I came to terms with the fact that generating less waste is going to cost me some time and effort, but I can manage to juggle two goals at once by doing things a little differently. For example, rather than buy a bunch of small, single-serving yogurts for a quick breakfast on the go, I buy one large container of yogurt and transfer it into small mason jars.  

    Using Reusable Items over Single-Use Items

    Have you ever wondered how much trash you have thrown away over a lifetime? It’s a little shocking when you think about it. Let’s say I bought one cup of coffee from a cafe per week for the last 20 years. I have thrown away at least 1,040 disposable cups of varying sizes. Because those cups are often lined with a thin plastic coating, they’re not easily recyclable. I still use disposable cups when I forget my tumbler at home, but I’m aiming to bring it with me and reduce my personal waste. 

    I have also started declining anything I won’t actually use when I order takeout food, like individually wrapped toppings I don’t like, extra napkins, straws, and cutlery. I have found that only some beverages require a straw (like milkshakes), and I don’t need single-use plastic cutlery when I’m bringing food home to eat. I am not a fan of nuts, so I started declining a small plastic pouch of nuts for my favorite drive-thru ice cream. My baby steps are adding up.

    Buying Groceries Mindfully to Prevent Food Waste

    Food waste causes climate change. Until I worked at CalRecycle, I had no idea that my spoiled leftovers had an impact on anything more than my personal finances. You can read more on our Climate Methane Emissions Reductions webpage about how food waste creates methane when it’s buried in a landfill, but the gist is that every plate of food we scrape into the trash contributes to climate change. I decided I could be a little bit better about eating what I buy. I move “eat now” items toward the front of my refrigerator and write a more detailed grocery list so I don’t buy items I won’t likely cook and eat. 

    Everyone can head toward a more sustainable lifestyle by assessing how they personally generate waste and looking for ways to reduce that amount. Every step counts, and we all play a part in conserving our natural resources, recycling everything we can, and combating climate change. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 23, 2019

  • 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