Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
You’ve been there before—the lights suddenly go out and you’re not sure exactly when they’re going to come back on again. It could be a few minutes, or it could be an hour. Who knows? How do you occupy yourself until then? Hopefully, when all goes dark this time, it’ll be because you’re participating in Earth Hour on Saturday March 24, 2018, between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Earth Hour originated in Sydney, Australia, 11 years ago. Since then, 187 countries have participated, with people shutting off lights during the designated hour. The idea is to make an environmental statement by reducing power consumption and therefore reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air.
Here is a list of fun things to do while you’re showing solidarity for the planet.
Whether you’re alone or with friends and family, stargazing is always a fun activity! Head up to the roof (if it’s safe) or out to your backyard, or hike to a quiet and dark location. As it turns out, Venus is quite brilliant this year—and you’ll look bright too when you impress your friends with your knowledge of constellations using this sky map: https://www.almanac.com/content/sky-map-star-chart-march-2018
Light the table with candles (wax or LED) and pour some wine. Make it romantic or gab with your girlfriends. Either way, you’ll be sipping wine, having fun, and showing your support for the planet. Pick a California bottle with this article of perfect pairings: http://www.discovercaliforniawines.com/meet-the-grapes/wine-and-food/
Open Your Ears
Close your eyes and open your ears to the sounds of a new album or an old favorite. Cutting out the distraction of lights can really open up your other senses like hearing. You may find yourself discovering new sounds on an album you listened to a million times. Check out free music software like Spotify for new music. https://www.spotify.com/us/
Game Night, Scary Stories, and a Blanket Fort
Gather the kids around and give them a little fright with a spooky ghost story session, or play a fun game like 20 questions inside a homemade blanket fort. (You can set up the fort just before it’s time for lights out to avoid mishaps.) Then you can relive your childhood camp memories with your little ones and save energy at the same time. Here are a few questions to get you started: http://minds-in-bloom.com/20-question-to-ask-kids/
You usually have trouble finding the time for fitness, but Earth Hour is the perfect opportunity for a night run, if the weather permits in your location. Make sure to bring at least one buddy and wear reflective running gear for safety. Find some examples of night running gear here: https://www.active.com/running/articles/9-tips-for-your-night-runs
Long Exposure Photo Shoot
Get out your camera for a long exposure photo shoot that will no doubt yield some stunning results. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the controls on your camera before show time, and don’t forget your tripod to prevent blurry backgrounds. The goal is to capture your subject in movement against a solid background. That can be car headlights, stars, or even someone moving around the scene creating a ghostly figure.Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Mar 22, 2018
CalRecycle is celebrating California Food Waste Prevention Week to raise public awareness about the economic, environmental, and social impacts of unused food.
One great way to divert food from the waste stream is to save it for later. Consider your freezer. Make a double batch of sauces, stews, beans, and casseroles, and save the rest in the freezer for a future weeknight dinner with zero cooking.
My freezer is one of my most-used kitchen appliances. One of my favorite food waste strategies is what we call in my house “the Scrap Bag.” The Scrap Bag lives in my freezer and is full of, you guessed it—food scraps! Any time I peel a carrot, slice an onion, or cut the edges off a bell pepper, the leftover scraps are diverted from the garbage and go into the Scrap Bag. I put any kind of vegetable scraps or chicken bones (depending if you’re vegetarian/vegan) in the Scrap Bag and keep it in the freezer. Once the Scrap Bag is full, I empty the contents into a large stock pot, fill it with water and simmer over low heat for about an hour. Once the time is up, I simply strain the contents through a colander in the sink and save the liquid. The leftover vegetable scraps go into the compost and now I have stock—tasty stock that was free to make and that gave my food scraps a second life! The stock can be saved in the freezer and used to make soups and sauces. I also like to cook my rice, beans, or quinoa in it to add extra flavor.
Here are some of the other ways I utilize my freezer to prevent food waste:
- I’m not a big sandwich eater, but I enjoy sliced bread now and again. I keep the bread in the freezer and defrost a slice or two when I get a craving.
- Beans freeze beautifully. Dried beans are cheap! I cook a double batch in my crock pot and freeze half to store in the freezer for an easy meal.
- Soups hold up well when they’re stored in containers in the freezer. I like to freeze small individual servings for a quick meal on demand.
- I buy meat in bulk, divide it into single portions and defrost as I need them. I find meats are often cheaper to buy in bulk and are often sold with less packaging.
- Fruits like berries are simple to freeze. Simply place them on a cookie sheet, freeze them overnight, and transfer them to an empty container to store in the freezer. I love having frozen berries on hand for smoothies in the morning.
- Butter freezes well and is easy to defrost when I get the baking itch. It’s often cheaper to buy in bulk.
I hope these tips are as useful to you. To learn more about preventing food waste, please visit Save The Food. Interested in other ways to reduce food waste? Check out the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.Posted on In the Loop by Allegra Curiel on Mar 8, 2018
Every year, we talk about the impact the holiday season has on our waste stream. From Halloween through the New Year, Americans ramp up their spending—on decorations, food celebrations, gift exchanges, and gift-wrapping supplies.
We all get to choose the way we embrace an environmentally conscious lifestyle. Some of us choose to bike to work, while others choose to ride public transportation. Some abandon plastic saran wrap, while others switch to reusable containers with lids. For me, the holiday season is all about striking a fine balance between celebrating abundantly and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. If you’re following my blog posts here, you’ll know I favor handmade holiday decorations and gifts, but I’m still trying to find my stride with the approaching holidays.
I’ve wondered if there is a “keystone habit” that would set me up for sustainable success. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, coined this phrase to describe an activity that is correlated with other good habits—in other words, making one good choice can have a domino effect on the rest of your life. For example, those who exercise tend to eat better. Those who eat family dinners tend to benefit from lower food costs, better nutrition and health, healthier marriages, and academically successful children.
With the holidays approaching, I’ve developed a list of keystone habits to guide me through the season.
Cook Smaller Meals at Home (Skip the Leftovers!)
Most of the time, I cook a larger dinner meal that results in leftovers that I take to work for lunch or stretch out on nights I don’t want to cook. During the holiday season, I eat out more frequently and attend multiple parties, so these leftovers are harder to consume before they turn. Food waste constitutes about 20 percent of our waste stream, and I’m doing my part in December by making my grocery trips smaller and focusing on cooking food that can be eaten in two meals instead of four. I also shop for special meals (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day dinners) separately from my everyday shopping, because it helps me keep track of what I anticipate being eaten. Otherwise, I end up tossing things in my cart and thinking, if we don’t eat it on Thanksgiving, we’ll eat it later in the weekend, which inevitably results in over shopping and food waste.
Give Fewer and More Meaningful Gifts
This year, my family members collectively fessed up and admitted we have too much stuff and don’t need anything. Our Santa lists are shorter and include a handful of things that we would really appreciate. Some of us are pooling resources to buy larger gifts, while others are choosing to buy experience gifts like cooking lessons and tickets to a Broadway show. I’ve also decided to focus on buying high-quality jewelry for the women in my life rather than costume jewelry. I may give fewer pieces, but nice jewelry is usually more timeless than this season’s trends and much less likely to end up in a landfill in a few years. I’m also compiling photos into a special picture book, which has a lot of sentimental value and will be cherished for years to come. And don’t forget to check out my blog entry on Reusable Holiday Wrapping.
Decorate with Compostable Decorations
This year I’m channeling my inner Colonial Williamsburg, Little Women craftswoman and heading to the orchard rather than the craft store for inspiration. Early American Christmas decorations consisted of fresh greenery, fruit, nuts, pinecones, and spices like cinnamon sticks, cloves, and star anise pods. This year, I’m aiming to dry orange, grapefruit, and apple slices for wreathes, garlands, and ornaments. At the end of the season, I can toss these decorations into the compost pile.
As the holidays unfold and my schedule gets busier, it takes a little more effort to keep sustainability in mind. But I’m armed with a plan and keystone habits to guide me through the New Year. What kind of keystone habits will you put in place?Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Dec 11, 2017