Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
Simple Changes I’ve Made Since Coming to Work at CalRecycle
Sometime in the last year, I had an epiphany: It’s not enough to simply recycle. I must figure out a way to reduce the amount of waste I generate. It can be hard, but I decided to take it one step at a time. Here are a couple of things I have learned along my way to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
Separating Out My Recyclables Influences How I Shop
Truth be told, before working at CalRecycle I only separated out CRV items and cardboard to recycle. I honestly didn’t think about folding down cereal and pasta boxes or crumpling paper shipping packaging into a recycling bin before working here. Now that I do it, I realize just how many resources I have thrown away over my lifetime.
I have found that I have unintentionally generated more waste in the pursuit of other goals. For example, conveniently packaged individual-size snacks may help with calorie-counting or meal prep, but there’s no doubt it creates more waste. I came to terms with the fact that generating less waste is going to cost me some time and effort, but I can manage to juggle two goals at once by doing things a little differently. For example, rather than buy a bunch of small, single-serving yogurts for a quick breakfast on the go, I buy one large container of yogurt and transfer it into small mason jars.
Using Reusable Items over Single-Use Items
Have you ever wondered how much trash you have thrown away over a lifetime? It’s a little shocking when you think about it. Let’s say I bought one cup of coffee from a cafe per week for the last 20 years. I have thrown away at least 1,040 disposable cups of varying sizes. Because those cups are often lined with a thin plastic coating, they’re not easily recyclable. I still use disposable cups when I forget my tumbler at home, but I’m aiming to bring it with me and reduce my personal waste.
I have also started declining anything I won’t actually use when I order takeout food, like individually wrapped toppings I don’t like, extra napkins, straws, and cutlery. I have found that only some beverages require a straw (like milkshakes), and I don’t need single-use plastic cutlery when I’m bringing food home to eat. I am not a fan of nuts, so I started declining a small plastic pouch of nuts for my favorite drive-thru ice cream. My baby steps are adding up.
Buying Groceries Mindfully to Prevent Food Waste
Food waste causes climate change. Until I worked at CalRecycle, I had no idea that my spoiled leftovers had an impact on anything more than my personal finances. You can read more on our Climate Methane Emissions Reductions webpage about how food waste creates methane when it’s buried in a landfill, but the gist is that every plate of food we scrape into the trash contributes to climate change. I decided I could be a little bit better about eating what I buy. I move “eat now” items toward the front of my refrigerator and write a more detailed grocery list so I don’t buy items I won’t likely cook and eat.
Everyone can head toward a more sustainable lifestyle by assessing how they personally generate waste and looking for ways to reduce that amount. Every step counts, and we all play a part in conserving our natural resources, recycling everything we can, and combating climate change.Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 23, 2019
Today is National Guacamole Day. Now, I know it’s basically a sin to waste guacamole, but sometimes it’s hard to eat it all before it turns brown. Some folks swear by laying down a thin layer of plastic cling wrap over a bowl of guacamole to prevent it from browning, but that’s not the most sustainable option and creates unnecessary waste. Reduce your food waste by learning how to store avocados and preserve guacamole so it doesn’t turn an unappetizing shade of brown before you can get back to it.
Storing Uncut Avocados
Starting with perfectly ripe avocados is key to preserving guacamole. Pick bright green, unripe avocados, which will ripen over a few days if you leave them out on the countertop. If you need a ripe avocado the next day, tuck it into a paper bag with an apple or banana, which will speed up the ripening process. Once ripe, move the fruit into the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process so it stays fresher longer.
Storing Cut Avocados
The darkening of guacamole or avocado is due to the process of oxidation, which is the chemical reaction between the avocado fruit and air. If you’re only going to use half an avocado, leave the pit in the other half when storing it in the fridge, which will slow down the ripening process.
Saving Leftover Guac for Later
Once you smash an avocado up, you’ve maximized the oxidation potential by exposing most of the fruit’s flesh to air. If you want your guac to look fresh for a few hours on the table, consider the following preservation techniques.
- Add lime or lemon juice to your guac. The acid will help reduce oxidation.
- Tuck the pits from the avocados into your guac bowl. They’ll help prevent browning, too. (But, it’s the pits trying to dip a chip into a crowded guac bowl!)
- Some swear by mixing sour cream, Greek yogurt, or mayonnaise into guacamole, which creates a barrier or seal between the fruit and the air.
- My personal favorite trick is to sprinkle Ball’s Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector onto a bowl of guac. You can find it in most grocery stores with the canning supplies, and this mixture of vitamin C and citric acid prevents the natural browning that comes with oxidation on cut avocados, apples, and potatoes. It’s tasteless and works great!
If you’re looking to reduce your food waste in general, it’s helpful to learn a little bit about how to store fresh produce and prepared foods so they have a long shelf life. The U.S. EPA offers great storage tips to help your fruits and vegetables last longer.Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 16, 2019
Today is National Video Game Day. Did you know 57 percent of Americans play video games?
Maybe you used to play video games, or maybe you still do. Chances are you have games and consoles laying around that you haven’t played in some time. The nostalgic return of World of Warcraft Classic has some gamers realizing just how long they have had some games. Is it time to Marie-Kondo the collection? What should you do with games you’re not going to play anymore? Let’s take a look at the trash from one of our favorite pastimes.
What kind of waste is a video game console? E-waste! An easy way to think of e-waste is an item (or an accessory to the item) that has a battery or a power cord. Don’t forget to use the waste hierarchy: reduce, then reuse, then recycle. First, reduce the number of physical video games you purchase—more on that later. Second, reuse by selling functioning video games and consoles through used game retail shops like GameStop or social media platforms like Facebook, or you could go retro with eBay. Also consider giving away games to friends or family. Third, only if a console is not functioning should you consider recycling it or disposing of it by taking it to an e-waste drop-off location or scheduling an e-waste pickup. Check with your local city or county government for specific guidelines regarding the proper recycling or disposal of old video games and consoles.
What about the cartridge (or CD-ROM)? Cartridges used to store console video games, like those used with the original Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and have circuit boards made of plastic and metal components. Many of us fondly remember blowing the dust off the contacts if the console couldn’t read the game. The combination of crevices and different materials makes cartridges hard to recycle. Luckily, there are companies like TerraCycle with special collections for games and toys, including cartridges and CD-ROMs.
With the video game industry shifting new games toward digital downloads and online streaming, gamers are faced with fewer challenges to responsibly managing game cartridges at the end of their useful life. Buying games online results in no packaging waste and no physical media or cartridge—which is a form of source reduction. And for those looking for a quick nostalgia fix, many older games have been made available on the Nintendo, Sony, and Xbox digital stores. The cloud for the (eco) win!Posted on In the Loop by Victoria Ngo on Sep 12, 2019