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

  • Come and Get It: A Primer for a Less-Waste Summer Celebration

    At CalRecycle we work hard and we play hard. Well, maybe not “hard,” but we do know how to have a good time on occasion. But, unlike most workplaces, we dedicate ourselves to making less waste when we celebrate. In fact, we have a Zero Waste team that ensures any and all CalRecycle get-togethers are set up for less-waste success. One method we use is to encourage CalRecyclers to bring their own reusable cups, plates, utensils, and cloth napkins. We also offer reusable “mess kits” for those times when life gets in the way and we forget to bring our own.

    Since summer is ramping up and we know lots of workplaces will be having company picnics and potlucks, we’d love to share how we handle our mess kit “rental” system so you can join us in the fight against waste.

    1. Before any shindig, encourage everyone to BYO mess kits, which should include reusables like cups, cloth napkins, utensils, plates, and bowls.
    2. Assess how many kits you need. This involves taking a simple head count to find out how many employees you have. It doesn’t hurt to have extra kits laying around just in case you have unexpected friends or family members drop in as well! In CalRecycle’s inventory, we have 100 plates, 50 sets of utensils, and 50 cups. We have approximately 700 employees total.
    3. Gather your kit pieces. At CalRecycle, we organized a “mug drive” and asked staff members to donate their unused cups and mugs. If your office is anything like ours, you won’t have a problem collecting those extra mugs! We also received cutlery donations and purchased some from the Goodwill. We generally encourage donations and second-hand purchases, but if you are unable to acquire your whole set, purchasing new is also an option.
    4. At first, each kit was rented out for a $1 fee, but we have since dropped the fee and accept donations instead. The idea is to encourage less waste, not to ding someone for forgetting or not bringing their own kits. So, a small donation is effective and can help replenish any items that go missing in the process. (You could even establish a deposit system.)
    5. Create a sign out system to ensure all your kits are returned and if you use a deposit system a list of checkouts can be helpful.
    6. Keeping your kits clean can be one of the bigger challenges. At CalRecycle, we request that everyone bring back a clean kit—if it was checked out clean, it should come back that way! However, if you have a more germ-conscious team, you may want to run the kits through a dishwasher. A full dishwasher can be more water- and energy-efficient than washing by hand. And who wants dishpan hands from 100 mess kits anyway?
    7. Store your mess kits in a clean place where they can await your next function!

    Our CalRecycle mess kit system was a collaboration between our Social Committee and our Zero Waste team. Since August 2018 we, along with our sister departments at CalEPA, have avoided trashing more than 1,500 single-use foodware items by using the mess kit system. We encourage you to do the same, share what works for you, and lead by example!

    Mess Kit
    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on May 20, 2019

  • What's Even Better Than Recycling? Refurbishing

    We all know the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but we sometimes forget those three Rs are listed by priority. Used electronics are problematic and costly to manage and recycle, so it’s critical to consider more sustainable options. Here are a few.

    Donate

    Donate your old electronics to sources that will refurbish them or use them for parts. More and more E-waste recyclers are now taking part in the reuse movement and will accept items that can be refurbished or used for parts. ReUseIt Drop Box accepts re-useable laptops: Call (877) 738-7348, or visit www.earth911.org and search by county name to see regional choices. Also check out the CalRecycle search engine to find local e-waste recyclers.

    Buy Refurbished

    Help minimize the environmental impact of e-waste by purchasing refurbished computers.

    Refurbished products include electronics that were returned to a manufacturer or vendor for various reasons. Refurbished products are tested for functionality and defects before they are sold, and many come with warranties. Electronics in this group are often brand-new and were simply store returns that the customer decided they just didn’t want. Since the package was opened it has to be sold as “refurbished.” So in effect, you are purchasing a new product.

    Other refurbished electronics may be older and rebuilt. Searching online provides valuable customer reviews of products and vendors and help determine how well the vendor stands behind their products through money-back guarantees and warranties.  More electronics recyclers and some companies are expanding into the refurbished electronics market. Refurbished electronics can be purchased through any number of sources, both online and in some electronics stores, or even from the manufacturers directly.

    I purchased a refurbished laptop six years ago that came with a 90-day warranty. I installed larger memory chips, also available online. It still works great, and I saved a lot of money!

    Fix Them Yourself

    There is a growing movement to fix electronics yourself. Many communities hold fix-it clinics. They are a lot of fun, and they provide an opportunity for tech-minded folks to volunteer time and support the community and learn along the way. A leader in the self-repair arena is IFIXIT, “the free repair guide for everything, written by everyone.” It contains instructions, tools, tips, and much more on how to fix almost any electronic device.

    Any of these choices will help save valuable resources and prevent the landfilling of used electronics that can be refurbished instead. Buying refurbished also makes use of the existing products and prevents the negative environmental impacts created by the manufacture of new components and devices. Even if a device can’t be fully refurbished, some of the components could be harvested for reuse in other devices.

    Remember: refurbish over recycle—it’s the higher use of the planet’s resources!

    Posted on In the Loop by Jim Madden, CalRecycle on May 13, 2019

  • Big Ideas for Little People

    It’s not a coincidence that CalRecycle celebrates Earth Day and Take Your Children to Work Day on the same day. We know it’s the little people who will be bringing the lessons home. Kids, here are some tips to share with your parents. Thank you!

    A Clean California Starts With Children!
    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on Apr 22, 2019