Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
Summer is wedding season! While it’s a time for love, family, friends, and happiness, weddings can also lead to a lot of waste. The good news is you have the power to prevent it! Whether you’re planning a wedding for a future date or you’re putting the final touches on your upcoming summer nuptials, these tips can help you tie the knot the sustainable way.
Close to the Heart
Destination weddings are an effective way to combine honeymoons, get away from your usual surroundings, and cut down on the guest list (not everyone is willing to travel to the Bahamas for a few days). But traveling to exotic, far-off lands can also be taxing on the planet due to emissions from planes, trains, and automobiles. If possible, opt for a venue closer to home where guests won’t have to travel far and can carpool together. Outdoor venues are also a good option—let the sun be your light source during the day, and use solar-charged lights in the evening.
It’s 2019—why are we still sending things via snail mail? OK, a wedding is a little different since it’s a special occasion, but if you want to cut down on paper waste and costs, sending out an evite is another viable option. Paperless invitations can still be elegant, classy, and unique while being cost-effective and wasteless. If there are some family members who don’t have email addresses (we’re talking to you, Aunt Ida), you can still print and send a handful of invitations without breaking the bank or the environment. And, if you’d like a keepsake for your wall or wedding album, you can print one out, too.
Do the Environment a Favor
Unfortunately, party favors are one of the biggest offenders at weddings. While they’re a traditional and fun way to take the happy occasion home with you, they often end up in the trash. If you’re willing, forego the little gifts altogether and give a small donation to a charity in your guests’ name. Or, give something that will eventually leave little to no waste, like small jars of honey, cute plants, tea/coffee/spice blends, or reusable bags, cups, or straws. Consider this rule of thumb at bridal showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties as well.
Dress to Impress ... the Earth
What do they say about weddings? Everyone will remember the dress and the cake! It’s so tempting to want to buy the most expensive, elegant, show-stopping dress, but secondhand or heirloom dresses are an often overlooked option. Besides, heirloom dresses have special meaning when you know they’re being lovingly handed down from a cherished family member or friend. Also, men rent tuxedos, so what’s the big deal about women renting dresses?
Let Them Eat Cake
Then send them home with leftovers! That goes for any food you may have at the end of the reception. The best way to handle food is to find out how many guests will be attending and plan for that number to prevent food waste altogether. But, if that doesn’t work out, you have a few options. Have your catering company, if you use one, pack up leftovers for guests. Or, you can donate uneaten food to local organizations for the food-insecure. Yes, it can be done, despite what your catering company might say! It’s important to make sure you have a food waste prevention or donation plan in place before the big day.
Continue the Celebration
Did you know you can donate a lot of items that can be reused after your wedding? Flowers can be donated and rearranged for hospitals, hospice facilities, and elderly communities to brighten people’s day. You can also allow your guests to take arrangements home, but whatever you do, don’t just toss all those flowers in the trash. Organic waste makes up the largest part of the waste stream. Decorations, dresses, favors, unwanted gifts that weren’t on your carefully curated registry, and wedding prep supplies can all be donated to prevent waste and allow someone else a chance to celebrate on a budget.
Sure, most of us love the excitement of getting and unwrapping gifts! But, before you get giddy with the registry scanner, consider requesting funds for your honeymoon instead. Cash is always a good way to go, but if you’d like to suggest your guests contribute to a fund that will help you pay for fun activities, there are several honeymoon registry sites. The highlight of your honeymoon could be that your loved ones help pay for it! Who needs another toaster that will eventually break and end up in the trash anyway? Plus, imagine all that shredded foil, glittery paper and ribbons—you can’t recycle that stuff!
If you’re into environmentalism, these tips are a great way to bring awareness to your guests and prevent waste. And they’re all great suggestions for saving money, too!Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jun 27, 2019
Transitioning to Reusables 101
I’ve never seen my dad use a straw in my entire life. In fact, I have childhood memories of us using the drive-through at fast food restaurants and him saying, “No straw please,” to the employee. I’m not sure why he didn’t use them, but regardless of the reason, I can’t help but think about how many straws he’s turned down in his lifetime. And if you’ve been paying attention to environmental news lately, you may have noticed single-use plastic straws are the new hot topic. While statistics on how many single-use plastic straws are used daily are unverified, it’s not hard to get a rough idea—just think back to how many you’ve used yourself at restaurants, fast food joints, coffee shops, bars, and parties over the last year. Then think about all the other people drinking those beverages around the planet, and how long they’re actually using the straw for. It could be anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes based on how thirsty you are! So why are single-use plastic straws the low-hanging fruit of the environmental world? It’s because, unless you require one for medical reasons, they are generally unnecessary. If you just enjoy slurping, want to keep your lipstick neat, have sensitive teeth, or are concerned about keeping oceans free of plastic waste, here are reusable options that are a lot more planet-friendly.
Stainless steel straws are what I use and I feel pretty comfortable recommending them to others. They are durable, easy to clean, and very sleek looking. If you like your drinks to stay ice-cold, they keep the drink cooler in your glass all the way to your lips. I received a set of six as a gift from my mom—they cost about $7 and will last a lifetime. I keep one in my purse, one at my desk at work, a few at home, and one in my car. This sets me up for a SUCK-sessful beverage experience while protecting the environment at the same time. Stainless steel straws (say that three times fast!) come in different shapes, sizes, and colors to fit your lifestyle—bent, straight, smoothie/boba, rainbow—whatever your environmental heart desires, there’s a straw for you!
I do not personally use glass straws because I’m a klutz and would undoubtedly break one, but some people really enjoy them because you can see right through them, which eliminates any doubt about cleanliness. They can also be customized -- think blown glass, but in straw form. If you choose to use a glass straw, I recommend also making or purchasing a case to protect it from getting shattered. While glass straws are made to be strong, they are still fragile. Additionally, cases and bags are a good accessory for any straw to prevent them from getting dirty.
I do have personal experience with silicone straws, but they wouldn’t be my go-to choice. They are excellent for children because they are soft and flexible. But, in my experience they can be more difficult to clean and also they tend to get sticky. I often carried one in my purse and unfortunately it was a lint magnet! A small metal or plastic case may eliminate the lint issue. Silicone is also a better option than plastic because it’s less likely to leach chemicals into your food or drinks.
Probably the oldest type of straw, bamboo is also the most renewable and natural. I don’t have personal experience using one, but they are a fun, all-natural way to enjoy your beverage. However, they do not last forever since they are essentially an organic material, but the good news is they are biodegradable unless they are finished and chemically treated for longevity.
While I recommend using any of the aforementioned options over a single-use plastic straw, reusable plastic is also an option. It’s still plastic, so there is the possibility it will end up lasting hundreds of years if eventually discarded in a landfill. It’s not the ideal choice, but it is reusable and is probably a good option for children instead of fragile glass or potentially teeth-chipping stainless steel.
I mentioned accessories like cases and pouches to keep your straws safe and sanitary. You may also consider purchasing a straw brush, which basically looks like a pipe cleaner from your elementary school arts and crafts project. Often straws come with one and it’s the best way to keep your straw clean. Finally, for those who worry about chipping their teeth on the ridged stainless steel option, there are soft silicone tips available.
Now that you know your options, I will leave you with two more pieces of advice about straw use in public. When at a bar or restaurant (or anywhere that serves straws) politely ask that they leave the straw out of your order. More and more cities are banning straws unless requested, but for those that haven’t, you can make your voice heard by politely declining. And finally, if I am accidentally given a single-use straw, I use it. There’s no use in picking it out, throwing it away, and replacing it with my own reusable one.
I could go on for hours about straws, but if you are interested in learning more about the effects of single-use straws on your own time, here are some related resources.
A brief history of how plastic straws took over the world —National Geographic
California’s new plastic straw law takes effect in 2019. Here’s what’s happening. —San Diego Union TribunePosted on In the Loop by TC Clark on May 16, 2019
Nothing says “I love you” like spending $19.6 billion! Well, OK, that’s a collective $19.6 billion. According to the National Retail Federation, that is what U.S. consumers are planning to spend this Valentine’s Day. That includes candy, flowers, clothing, jewelry, and dates—all great stuff, but then there’s all the packaging and other waste generated in the wake of your romantic day. Now, if all of that makes you quiver more than a loving look from your sweetheart, rest assured there are ways around making a pile of trash. Show your honey (and Mother Nature) you love them with these less-waste experience date night ideas for every type of couple.
The Romantic Couple
For those lovers who still get butterflies in their stomachs every time they set eyes on each other, pack a tasty picnic with reusable silverware, plates, a bottle of wine (don’t forget to recycle it), and a blanket. Get cozy and stargaze at night, or head out to a park during a sunny day. Bonus points if you can find a rose garden! Or, if you love romantic movies, meet your sweetie at a meaningful destination a la Sleepless in Seattle or An Affair to Remember.
The Whimsical Couple
Three words: living room teepee. OK, the whimsical date holds a special place in my heart because I’ve actually been on this date. Nothing melts my heart more than a less-waste movie night (Netflix it) or a story time (borrow or buy your favorite book) in a living room teepee. Those flowers will wilt and some of those chocolates might end up in the trash (who likes cherry filling, anyway?). But, the memory of snuggling up like kids in a teepee and reading favorite stories, watching cute movies, and coloring personalized Valentine cards will always fill your heart.
The Daring Couple
Do you love your partner as much as you love adventures and trying new things? Hike a new trail, take surfing lessons, or try indoor rock-climbing—talk about learning to trust your bae! If you’re a pair of daredevils, plan a sasquatch hunt (also known as camping) or book a stay at a haunted hotel for a night of ghost hunting. Nothing will bring you closer to your boo than a potential boo from a spirit! It’ll also give you an excuse to hold each other all night.
The Cultured Couple
For the more sophisticated types, start your date with wine tasting. And if you’re really interested about how your date will impact the environment, look for a vineyard that does business with a less-waste model. Thankfully, there are many out there, especially in wine country. Visit an art gallery or see a play for the main event, and then relax with a couples massage.
The Fun-Loving Couple
And lastly, for the fun-loving, up-for-anything, life-of-the-party couple, spend your Valentine’s with a fun activity like mini-golf, bowling, or dance lessons. It’ll give you an excuse to get your arms around each other when learning. If you’re kind of artsy, dust off your camera and head out to explore your town with a photo walk. Hold hands, take photos of each other in your favorite places, then share your photos with each other. It’s always fun to see yourself from the perspective of someone who loves you.Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Feb 12, 2018