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

  • Reduce Holiday Waste with Party Portion Planning

    During the holidays, some estimate Americans increase overall waste by 25  data-sf-ec-immutable="">Given that food waste is the number one component of our waste stream, it can be daunting to determine how much food to prepare for a holiday party or special meal.

    To help reduce food waste and save on their budget, caterers and restaurants use simple portion formulas to calculate how much food to prepare and serve at events. A good rule of thumb is to expect to serve 10 to 20 percent more people than the number of RSVPs. This helps account not only for last-minute drop-ins but also for the variations of appetites of your guests.  Here are some quick tips for planning your holiday parties.


    • Guests tend to eat and drink more in the evening than during the day.
    • You can serve a lighter menu in between meals (mornings and afternoons).
    • Napkins encourage snacking while plates encourage a small meal.
    • If you serve a buffet, people are likely to fill their plate, no matter their appetite. Salad plates allow guests to return for seconds while gently guiding people away from taking more than they can consume.

    To reduce food waste, include items that you can easily use for a future meal if they are not used, like rolls, nuts, or a veggie tray. It’s much easier to repurpose dinner rolls for lunch sandwiches or add chopped veggies into a stir-fry than to eat barbecue-sauced mini sausages for days on end.


    Guests will likely consume two drinks the first hour and one drink per hour after that. If you host a four-hour party, plan for four drinks per person to help reduce waste.

    Type of Beverage and Number of Services in Each  

    • Soda: 1-Liter Bottle = 11 glasses (6 oz.)
    • Punch: 1 Gallon = 32 servings (4 oz.)
    • Wine: 1 750 ml bottle = 6 glasses (4 oz.)
    • Liquor: 1 750 ml bottle = 15-18 pours (1 oz.)

    Hors D’ouevres and Appetizers

    • Cocktail or Finger Food Party – no main meal following but not near meal time: 4-6 bites/hour
    • Cocktail or Finger Food Party – main meal following: 6 bites total
    • Cocktail or Finger Food Party – in lieu of main meal: 8-10 bites/hour

    Lunch Entrees

    • Protein: 4-6 oz. 
    • Chilled Salad: 4 oz.               
    • Pasta as Side: 3 oz.                  
    • Pasta as Main: 6 oz.     
    • Bread: 1 roll

    Dinner Entrees

    • Protein: 6-8 oz.                 
    • Starter Salad: 1 Lg. Handful                    
    • Pasta as Main: 6-8 oz.                    
    • Hot Side Dishes: 3-4 oz.               
    • Bread: 2 Rolls 

    We hope these tips help you better plan your menu and grocery list so you don’t have a lot of food left over after a grand event. If you do have leftover food, send it home with your guests. They will love the extra gesture of generosity!

    Happy Holidays!

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Dec 15, 2016

  • Reusable Holiday Wrapping

    The holidays are a season of generosity. Most of us find ourselves giving gifts to our co-workers, to friends, and to family members. Much of the fun is wrapping the gifts in special packaging and watching someone’s eyes light up as they open their gift—in fact, sometimes the wrapping is just as special as the gift itself. Think of all the ways you can reduce, reuse, and recycle your gift packaging without compromising on style or quality.

    Reusable Gift Tags


    Using special name tags is a wonderful way to add flair to your gift. In my family, we save our name tags and reuse them each year. Rather than using sticker tags or throwing away cheap tie-on tags, we selected a special set of vintage tags. Check out these free printable tags!

    Ribbon, Twine, and Bows

    Adorning gifts with bows adds an extra little touch to your gifts. Choose bows made with satin ribbon or wired ribbon so you can pluck them off the discarded gift packaging and tuck them away for next year.

    Try adding a sprig of pine, fir, or mistletoe to your gift. Clip a small branch from your live Christmas tree, or snip a small twig of rosemary from your garden.  Take a walk in your neighborhood and look for greenery, pinecones, and berry branches.


    Wrapping Gifts

    This holiday season, consider wrapping your gifts in cloth in the Japanese tradition of Furoshiki. Use a scarf, an old sweater, a scrap of material leftover from a project, an old sheet, or a small throw blanket as gift packaging. There’s a wrapping technique for almost every shape you would need to cover.


    When All Else Fails, Use Gift Bags

    Using store-bought gift bags is a great alternative to using wrapping paper, which inevitably gets ripped and is difficult to fold and reuse year after year. Gift bags are often stuffed with tissue paper, which you can always repurpose for wrapping delicate ornaments after its gift-packaging days are over.

    There are many ways to be mindful of the environment this season, and wrapping your gifts in reusable holiday packaging is just one of them. Explore your creativity and wrap your gifts—and the earth—in a little extra love for the holidays.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Dec 1, 2016

  • How to pack a waste-free, ostracism-free lunch

    When I was a kid, my mom sent me and my three siblings off to school with our lunches packed in brown paper bags and our sandwiches wrapped in wax paper. Everyone else had little plastic baggies for their sandwiches, but no, the Jones kids had wax paper. We were also ordered to bring the bags, and the wax paper, home each day so she could use it all again. She did not worry for one second about what was cool or whether the other kids would take a look at our wilted piles of wax paper and let us have a table to ourselves. 

    We could call her an eco-mom.

    Today, the options are endless for waste-free lunches, without the mortification factor. But before you go shopping for cool reusable containers to replace those brown paper bags and little plastic baggies–or, heaven forbid, wax paper–let’s take a look at today’s pack-your-lunch landscape.


    Originally posted by butteryplanet

    Since my mother’s lunch-packing days, a lot of “convenience” options have sprung up: single-serve snacks like yogurt, applesauce, and cheese-and-cracker combinations, packaged in plastic, and those little juice boxes, which are close to impossible to recycle.

    I can’t think of anything that’s available in a single-serve size that’s not available in a much larger size, which can save on wasteful packaging material if you employ reusable containers. This can also reduce food waste, because you can customize the portions. For example, while a teenage football player might polish off four single-serve cups of yogurt in one sitting, a first-grader might eat a few spoonfuls and throw the rest away.

    Reusable lunch boxes, containers, forks and spoons, and napkins are available in countless sizes, materials, colors, and styles–and at every price level. The trick, especially for younger kids, is to make sure they don’t throw away these reusable containers. (My mother’s wax paper will break down in the landfill a lot sooner than that stainless steel bento box.)

    Check your local grocery store, co-op, or box store for reusable containers, or go online and do a Google search on “reusable lunch containers.”

    Visit these sites for more tips on how to pack a waste-free lunch that won’t embarrass your kids. has charts itemizing how much money you could save in the process.

    WikiHow to Pack a Waste-Free Lunch

    Global Stewards

    Consider packing eco-friendly lunches for yourself as well. Adult-savvy container options abound, and you can often eat healthier, and save even more money, if you bring your own lunch. Bon appetit!


    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Nov 8, 2016