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

  • 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.


    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. 


    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!


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

  • Getting Organics out of California Landfills: Here’s the Plan

    The average Californian may be shocked to hear this, but that apple core you just tossed in the trash is causing global temperatures to rise. Sure, not by much—but add that apple core to the 6 million tons of food waste and 5 to 6 million tons of additional green material, untreated lumber, and other organic waste landfilled in California each year, and it adds up to a big climate-altering problem. 


    When sent to landfills, food and other organic waste decomposes and generates methane, a short-lived climate pollutant with a heat-trapping effect at least 70 times greater than carbon dioxide.

    This is a big problem because organics (food, green waste, lumber, and other organic materials) is the single largest disposal stream in California, accounting for about 41 percent of the 31 million tons of material going to California landfills each year. The state’s ambitious 75 percent recycling goal, as well as its strategy to combat climate change, hinge upon reducing the amount of organic material sent to landfills. The good news is we know how to do that.

    The California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32, Núñez, Chapter 488, Statutes of 2006) paved the way for bold action on organic waste diversion by establishing the world’s first comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to combat climate change. This enabled California to invest in organics recycling infrastructure like food waste recovery networks, cutting-edge compost facilities, and in-vessel digestion operations that transform food and other organics into compost and carbon-neutral, renewable energy. To date, California Climate Investments has allocated $72 million to California’s waste sector, primarily to build or expand conventional compost and in-vessel digestion operations. Grants have included $5 million for food waste recovery projects that divert landfill-destined, edible food to Californians in need.

    AB 341 (Chesbro, Chapter 476, Statutes of 2011) established a 75 percent recycling, reuse, and waste prevention goal for the state. Since organic waste accounts for more than one-third of the state’s waste stream, CalRecycle staff identified “Moving Organics Out of the Landfill” as the top priority strategy to achieve 75 percent. The Legislature later passed the Mandatory Commercial Organics Recycling law (AB 1826, Statutes of 2014), which requires the largest generators of organic waste to recycle the material rather than landfill it.

    In September 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 1383 (Lara, Chapter 395, Statutes of 2016), establishing targets for reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane. The law calls for a 50 percent reduction of organics in landfills by 2020 and 75 percent reduction by 2025. It grants CalRecycle the regulatory authority necessary to reach these targets, which also include 20 percent of currently disposed edible food be recovered for human consumption by 2025.

    Right now, CalRecycle is engaging waste and recycling businesses, trade associations, and other stakeholders to gather input on the development of regulations to implement SB 1383. Stay up to date on developments and future workshops by joining the SLCP Listerv.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jun 26, 2017

  • Green Weddings: Your Eco-Friendly Guide


    Cheap wedding favors are often overlooked or forgotten by guests, and that can add up to a lot of uneaten Jordan almonds in plastic bags or paper boxes at the end of the big day. Swap those tossable favors and think about a special memento that won’t get tossed into the trash on the way out the reception hall.  You could give live tree saplings or succulents, bookmarks with poems on them, or jam in reusable mason jars.


    Most couples spend a lot of time picking out the perfect menu, and caterers generally recommend ordering a little more food than needed just in case a last-minute RSVP comes in. Be a green bride and ask your caterer to package up leftover food in to-go containers for your guests. Opt for biodegradable or recyclable containers, and share the wealth of your feast!


    Weddings can be expensive parties, but upcycling can help keep your special day under budget. If you need a classy table runner, pop into your local library or used bookstore and ask for any damaged or unsellable books. Glue loose pages into a literary-inspired table runner! Skip paper napkins and plastic utensils. Raid thrift shops and yard sales for classic napkins and handkerchiefs and cutlery. Guests will love the vintage flair these items add to your decor.


    data-sf-ec-immutable=""> and groomsman gifts can be designed to suit the day or the person. We suggest you opt for the latter and give a gift that will outlast the style and fashion of your wedding. Monogrammed travel bags for the guys and silkscreened customized totes for the ladies make perfect forever gifts.


    Wedding fare is often served in courses throughout the evening beginning with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by dinner, and concluded with dessert. Hold the toothpicks and skewers and focus on munchies that can be served with nothing more than a napkin.


    Decorating a venue for a wedding can be a daunting task. Keep it simple and focus on making the space feel like a reflection of your personal style. Bring books, vases, small tables, and even dishes from home to give your wedding a homey feel. Call up friends and relatives to see what they might have to lend—they’ll love being a part of your special day and you can check “Something Borrowed” off your list!

    data-sf-ec-immutable=""> a little imagination, it’s easy to be a green bride and host an eco-friendly wedding party. Don’t sacrifice your sense of style or fashion, but think of ways to creatively decorate and serve your guests. When your big day is over, ask around and share the love by gifting some of your unwanted wedding decorations and accessories to another eco-friendly couple!

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jun 15, 2017