Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
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.
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
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
- Learn how to start a beverage container recycling program at school.
- Order a free Recycling Starter Kit to boost recycling at your school.
- Get free signs, posters, flyers, and stickers to help students separate organic waste.
- Start a school garden to save money and educate students.
- Learn how to reduce, recover, and recycle food waste at schools.
- Create a compost pile at school to fertilize your garden and make the most out of your organic waste.
- Use CalRecycle’s free EEI curriculum to ensure environmental literacy with hands-on, relevant lessons.
Tools for Parents and Students
- See CalRecycle’s back-to-school waste prevention tips.
- Shop the Recycle Store for supplies made from recycled materials.
- Use Freecycle to swap items with people in your area.
- See fun ways to recycle for the upcoming school year.
- Learn about California’s recycling programs and help shape future policy with CalRecycle’s C3 guidebook.
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
When your business is food, every bite counts. So when California’s top chefs see potential profits literally tossed in the trash can—well—it bites.
“We make our money by getting all we can out of the resources we have,” explained Sacramento restauranteur Patrick Mulvaney during CalRecycle’s recent SB 1383 workshop focused on developing regulations to reduce food and other organic waste disposal in California. Later in the workshop, Mulvaney went on to share an enlightening anecdote about his restaurants’ past struggle with rainbow chard.
“We used the leaves for all sorts of things like ravioli, fillings and mixes … but we’d be left with buckets and buckets of stems.”
All too often in restaurants and homes across California, those stems wind up in the garbage and among the roughly 6 million tons of produce scraps and other food waste landfilled in the state each year. Much of these produce odds and ends are perfectly edible and packed with flavor, making them valuable ingredients for chefs who know how to use them. In Mulvaney’s kitchens, more sustainable food management came by way of what he discovered in a decades-old cookbook.
“(Cookbook author) Marcella Hazan had this recipe for chard stem gratin with parmesan and cream and all of the bad things that taste really good,” he said. That same recipe urged cooks not to throw out the chard leaves, because those are good too.
“It was a reminder that, sometimes, what we really need to do is just change our perspective,” Mulvaney added.
For years, ethical chefs have prided themselves on “using everything but the oink” when preparing animal protein, a principle that reinforces respect for ingredients and disdain for waste. Now, more chefs are applying that same ethic to produce through seed-to-stalk cooking. The latest trend in the sustainable food movement not only helps restaurants boost their bottom line by creating dishes out of potential discards, it also brings California closer to its ambitious 75 percent recycling goal while supporting the state’s strategy to combat climate change. When sent to landfills, food scraps and other organic waste decompose and emit methane, a super pollutant with 70 times more potent that carbon dioxide.
Here’s what some of Northern California’s hottest restaurants tell us they’re doing to create delicious dishes with their produce odds and ends.
The Riddler (San Francisco) – “Picked herbs that don’t look as lively a day or so after get chopped up and added in to our herby creme fraiche, as well as day-old lemon juice. Once the pickling program begins, we’ll be using herb stems to season the brine. We also love to use butts, ends, and stems in pickles to maximize flavor.”
Mother (Sacramento) – “We often use carrot greens to make carrot top pesto. It’s quite good.”
Kru (Sacramento) – “Most of our vegetable ends or scraps go into our different soups and stocks, such as our mushroom broth or ramen broth. We also have a vichyssoise that incorporates the bulb of the leek into the soup, and then we use the end as a garnish by dehydrating the thick, green leaf so it’s almost crunchy and then stand it up in the soup to add height, color, and texture. We get to use the entirety of the plant.”
Humboldt Provisions (Eureka) – “We serve our oysters raw and broiled in the shell and reuse the shells as ground cover for our sister business, Humboldt Bay Social Club. We also have donated shells to the City of Eureka to use as decorative ground cover in the plantings in Old Town Eureka.”Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jul 24, 2017