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

  • Cities, Schools Aim to Become Zero Waste Communities

    What is “zero waste”? To some, it means reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill to zero. To others, zero waste is a process and a philosophy that involves a redesign of products and a redesign of consumption, so all material goods can be reused or recycled—or not needed at all. A number of local jurisdictions in California have implemented zero waste programs or passed resolutions related to zero waste.

    In 2014, Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD) became the first school district in the nation to commit to the goal of zero waste.

    The city of Oceanside provides recycling bins and educational materials to each campus, measures the amount of waste the school produces, and educates the school community on how to reduce waste and recycle as much as possible. By the end of the 2016/17 school year, the OUSD Zero Waste Initiative will have reached 13 of the OUSD’s 23 schools and saved the district nearly $100,000 in avoided landfill servicing fees. By the end of 2020, the city plans to implement its zero waste plan at all schools in the district.

    Kids Recycling At School

    Christa McAuliffe Elementary is one of the schools participating in the zero waste program.

    The students are trained to recognize different waste materials and to sort them accordingly for disposal or recycling. During lunchtime, a student “Green Team” helps sort lunch waste and teaches classmates about waste diversion and recycling. The school encourages parents to volunteer alongside their children, thereby spreading the impact of this educational program beyond the four walls of the school.

    We may or may not ever reach zero waste, but we continually work toward the goal. Today, a 90 percent reduction of waste being sent to landfills and incinerators is considered an achievable goal by such groups as the Zero Waste International Alliance and the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council. However, each succeeding increment toward zero requires systematic changes and improvements, and a significant, collaborative effort.

    If you’d like to learn more about zero waste and what California cities and counties are doing to become zero waste communities, visit our Zero Waste webpage

    Posted on In the Loop on May 13, 2017

  • What Do You Know About Compost?

    Did you know this week is International Compost Awareness Week? If you’re not already composting, there’s no better time to start! Kiss the Ground’s new video lays out the critical problem of food waste decomposing in landfills and generating greenhouse gas, and presents an easy alternative: composting. Did you know compost adds nutrients to the soil, making food grown in that soil more nutritious? It also helps soil retain water, so crops that are treated with compost need less water to grow. The list of benefits goes on, but it’s more fun to let the advocates in the following video, many of whom you will likely recognize, present the case. Without further ado, please see “The Compost Story,” and join the Compost Challenge.

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on May 11, 2017

  • Treat Yourself—and the Environment—to a Higher-Quality Shirt

    That $8 shirt is the pop of color you want for your fun weekend event—and if it only lasts a season, that’s OK, because it’s so cheap, right? Maybe you’re thinking you’ll just toss it and replace it with another one when it fades or stretches out, and you’ll still be ahead, because some T-shirts are downright pricey.

    Of course you could do that. But, here’s another thought:

    Buy a higher-quality shirt, treat it gently, and keep it for several years rather than replacing it every year. If you wash it in cold water and hang it to dry, it will last longer, and you’ll save energy (and money) and reduce greenhouse emissions at the same time. You’ll also keep those would-be replacement shirts out of the landfill. This is a big deal: According to CalRecycle’s statewide waste characterization study, more than 1.2 million tons of textiles, including clothing, went to California landfills in 2014.


    In addition, by washing one shirt over a few years rather than several shirts successively, after one or two washes you’ll have eliminated a lot of the chemicals possibly used to dye that shirt. After those initial washes, you won’t be wearing those chemicals against your skin, and you won’t be releasing chemicals from multiple garments into the local public works system.

    How do you know if you’re looking at a shirt that will hold up well, or if you’re just paying too much for a poorly made shirt that you’ll have to replace soon anyway? Learn to spot quality by checking the cut, the fabric, and the seams. Some clothing manufacturers even offer warranties. If they do, let them know if their clothes don’t hold up so they can improve their products in the future.

    If you just can’t bring yourself to pay top dollar for higher-quality clothing, consider your local consignment store, such as Crossroads Trading Co., or an online secondhand store like ThredupUnion & Fifth, or Poshmark. That way, you can get nice clothes for a bargain price, and since they are already used, you don’t have to worry about wearing, or washing out, dangerous chemicals. On the other hand, sometimes you’ll find clothing at secondhand stores, both in your neighborhood and online, that’s new with the tags still attached—and that’s quite a bargain.

    At some point, even well-made clothing reaches the end of its useful life. Then, you have some choices.

    A few communities have separate recycling bins for textiles or clothing donation boxes throughout town. Donating clothing to a thrift store is also a good idea—just make sure it’s clean and dry. Even if it’s stretched out, stained, and full of holes, Goodwill makes every effort to put used clothing to its best, highest use rather than into a landfill. If you have clothes that are in good shape but just didn’t work out for you for some reason, you could sell them to local or online consignment stores.

    More than 90 percent of the clothing that goes to California landfills is reusable or recyclable. Old clothing can easily be recycled intoauto rags, industrial wiping rags, furniture stuffing, and even insulation. But make no mistake: No matter where in California you live, once your old shirt is in your garbage bin, it is on its way to the landfill—no one is going to pull it out for recycling along the way. 


    So buy the nice shirt, treat it well, and enjoy it for a long time. When it’s time to part ways, send it on a new adventure worthy of its high quality, rather than to a garbage heap.

    Posted on In the Loop by Heather Jones on May 8, 2017