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

  • Mixing It Up To Become More Sustainable


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    While there are many paths toward sustainability, the best path for me has not always been clear. In the quest for the perfect sustainable item, I have collected enough reusable containers, fabric grocery bags, and reusable water bottles to fill a cupboard to bursting. In an effort to be more sustainable, I inadvertently become a bigger consumer.

    During a recent move, I decided to overhaul my home in the spirit of organizing guru Marie Kondo. Her gentle methods of culling useless items from my life have led me into a greater revelation of sustainability: buying less, appreciating more.

    Minimalists and hyper-organizers alike are fans of Kondo’s gospel, and she makes a compelling link between the stuff we accumulate and the quality of our life. Reducing the amount of waste we generate in the first place, referred to as source reduction or waste prevention, is an integral part of a sustainable lifestyle.  Kondo challenges her followers to examine their relationship to the objects they buy; her unique approach to reducing the amount of stuff we accumulate—not her method of folding shirts or organizing rooms by theme—is what makes her a guru.

    To recycle and reuse discarded materials is very beneficial to our pocketbooks and to our surrounding environment and economy.  However, those activities still involved accumulation of materials and products that became unneeded and had to be effectively managed in order to avoid needless disposal. Source reduction – preventing the generation of waste or production of wasteful materials – is the highest order of sustainability.  It’s the cornerstone of a sustainable lifestyle.

    Last year, Californians generated 42.7 million tons of material that went to disposal. That’s an average of 6 pounds per person per day, or more than one ton of solid waste for every Californian per year.

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    Kondo’s philosophy is that every object we own should bring us joy, either because it adds aesthetic beauty to our life or because the object serves our purpose really well.

    I discovered during my recent move that I own 10 mixing bowls, but I only really love 3 mismatched bowls that are perfect for popcorn, mixing batters, and marinating meat. The rest sit untouched in my cupboard. My three mismatched bowls suit my needs better, and their perfect functionality brings me joy.

    The other seven mixing bowls will not end up in a landfill just yet. They’ll go to good homes: My sister needs a nice, matching set, and the rest will be donated to a good thrift store.

    Kondo would advise that it’s important to carefully consider new purchases until you find something you truly love; avoid buying placeholder items that will create more waste in the long run. I would like to upgrade my dishes to a complete set of matching plates and bowls. I could pop into a discount store and buy a cheap set of matching dishes, but it would just be a placeholder for the (more expensive) set I really want and love. If I went that route, I would end up with two sets of dishes I don’t love that I would eventually have to take to the thrift store.

    As I continue unpacking my moving boxes, I’m taking a hard look at the stuff I own as well as the list of items I think I need in my new place. Changing my relationship to things is a hard process, but it will lead to lasting change in my life. I want to reduce my impact on our planet, and I’m choosing to do it one mixing bowl at a time.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 7, 2017

  • Back-to-School Tools from CalRecycle

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    School is out for summer, but not for much longer. In just a few short weeks, many of California’s 6.2 million students will head back to class equipped with notebooks, pencils, flash drives, and dozens more items on the average school supplies list. When you factor in other necessities to keep the state’s nearly 10,000 schools running smoothly—including 180 days of lunch service for those 6.2 million students—you can start to grasp the tremendous challenge of managing the districts’ discards.

    According to the latest Commercial Waste Characterization Study, California schools dispose of roughly 562,442 tons of waste each year. CalRecycle is working to help decrease those disposal numbers with free back-to-school tools that students, parents, and districts can use to save money and protect our natural resources.

    Tools for Schools

    Tools for Parents and Students

    These back-to-school tips can also help schools support California’s groundbreaking efforts to reduce our reliance on landfills, cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and achieve the highest and best use of all materials in California.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jul 31, 2017

  • Fabric Flowers Sprout from Recycled Material

    My grandmother used to say necessity is the mother of invention, and I think she was right. Californians dispose of more material during times of abundance; when the economy is flush, our wallets open wide and we buy new things, wrapped in lots of packaging, and we throw out old things. Some of these old things still have a lot of life in them, especially if we get creative!

    I come from a pretty artsy family. And we’re not the type of people to run down to the craft store to buy everything we need. Instead, we prefer to scavenge local thrift stores, yard sales, and even each other’s craft closets to assemble the materials we need to create a project.

    Fabric flowers are en vogue again, especially for country chic weddings. So, when my friend got engaged, it was only natural that I dove into my mother’s and sister’s ribbon and lace collections to assemble the material I needed to create a set of bridesmaid tote bags with accent flowers.

    Back in my grandmother’s day, fabric flowers constructed of rolled ribbon or delicately folded muslin could transform everyday dresses into Sunday best or even wedding garments. New clothes were expensive and difficult to make, so textiles were repurposed over and over again. Now, fabric flower tutorials are just a YouTube video away. Since they require just a few inches of ribbon, you can easily transform scraps that are otherwise too short for wrapping packages or tying large bows.

    Bows can be crafted from more than just recycled ribbon and lace. Small scraps of burlap, leftover canvas strips from a sewing or paint project, and even an old satin bathrobe belt can be carefully sewn or glued into concentric rows of beautiful flower petals. I like to adorn the center of each blossom with a pearl from a broken necklace strand or a glitzy vintage earring or broach.

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    If you can’t raid a relative’s or friend’s stash for craft materials, visit a thrift store where donated art supplies are given or resold to the public. Take the Free Utopian Projects (Free UP) movement, for example, which promotes sustainable art practices by supplying makers with materials. Free UP Oakland has a permanent storefront filled with a hodgepodge of crafty art supplies. Guests can take one free item per day and make a donation to purchase additional items.

    Oakland is also home to the East Bay Depot for Creative Use. Founded in the late 1970s by a group of Oakland Unified School District teachers, The Depot’s initial aim was to provide reusablesupplies to educators who were often paying out of pocket to stock their classrooms. They have grown a lot since their beginning and now divert over 200 tons of reusable material from landfills each year. 

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    You don’t have to be an artist to help divert reusable textiles and art materials from landfills. Consider calling your local grade schools or university art department to see if they can use your materials. Just remember that one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure … or in this case, flower!

     

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    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jul 20, 2017