California celebrates Earth Day by recognizing the individual actions that can make a collective difference for the future of our planet and the health of Californians and their communities.
Californians Do Their Part to Help the Planet
The small actions we take every day add up quickly to make our future better and safer. Thanks to Californians doing their part for our planet, we pitched in to recycle:
bottles and cans
pounds of electronic waste
gallons of used oil
gallons of paint
What Can Be Recycled?
Now, you can find out what products and materials are recyclable where you live thanks to the state’s first website that connects Californians to their local recycling program information. You can also find steps to help make sure your curbside recycling actually gets recycled.
5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Waste
The average Californian throws away about 2,000 pounds of trash every year. Here are some quick, easy ways to cut your trash footprint.
Refuse single-use packaging and products
Just say no to unneeded items like straws, utensils, condiment packets or plastic bags.
Opt out of unnecessary trash
Unsubscribe from the endless credit card offers and sales pitches by following the Federal Trade Commission’s steps for stopping junk mail. You can also switch to paperless billing.
Ditch disposables for reusable items.
Swap out things like bottled water, paper towels, disposable plates/cups, and plastic bags for refillable water bottles, washable cloth, and reusable dinnerware.
Shop with reusability and recyclability in mind
Shop for the most sustainable options that are reusable, without unnecessary packaging, made from recycled materials, or made with readily recyclable or compostable materials.
Learn how to recycle properly in California to ensure your recyclables don’t end up in a landfill. Visit IRecycleSmart.com for tips and information.
5 Simple Ways to Cut Your Food Waste
The average Californian throws away about 1,100 pounds of food, yard and other organic waste each year. Landfilled food and yard waste emits methane, a climate super pollutant 84 times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide (over 20-years). Here are some quick, easy ways to cut your climate footprint.
Check your kitchen before you shop
Before heading to the grocery store, plan your meals for the week. See what you already have in your fridge and cupboards to avoid buying too much.
Shop your kitchen
Look up recipes for using what you have in your cupboard or fridge. Here’s a delicious recipe for “pesto sauce” from Serious Eats to liven up any box of pasta you forgot you had in the cupboard.
Make friends with your freezer
Proper cold storage can make your food last longer. Check out FoodSafety.gov for a breakdown of when and how long to refrigerate food.
Substitute with what you have
If the recipe calls for sour cream, unsweetened Greek yogurt works in a pinch! The Food Network has easy ingredient tips can help your pocketbook and the planet.
Understand food date labels
Many foods are still perfectly safe to eat after the “sell by” date, or even the “use by” date, has passed. Educate yourself and don’t toss food that’s safe.
While recycling helps reduce trash, of the 8.4 percent of plastic that gets recycled in the US, most is only recycled one time because the quality degrades each time it is recycled. Then it joins the rest of the plastic polluting our planet as toxic microplastics in our air, water, and earth. Working together, we can move from a disposable system, where most items are used once then sent to a landfill forever, to a circular one: where we generate less waste and design products for in-state collection, reuse, and remanufacturing.
Waste Less to Fight Climate Change and Cut Trash Pollution
Not creating waste in the first place is the most environmentally beneficial thing every Californian can do to reduce trash pollution and landfill climate emissions.
Reducing your waste:
by swapping disposables with reusables
used to make, use and discard products
from harvesting and transporting raw materials
Reduces greenhouse gas
emissions that contribute to climate change
Helps the planet
stay livable for our children and future grandchildren
Lowers how much we have to recycle or send to landfills
A Circular Economy is
to a Zero-Waste Future
Maximizing the reuse and recycling of all materials sold in California is vital to the state’s larger effort to build a clean, circular-use economy in California. By cutting the waste we produce and ensuring that products sold in our state can be collected, recycled and remanufactured in our state, California can meet its waste reduction and climate goals while bringing more green jobs and green industries to our local communities.
Earth Day - Then and Now
The first Earth Day was a protest that sparked America’s environmental protection policies. Just eight months later, Congress created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to tackle the nation’s mounting pollution problems.
It’s estimated that 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970.
Today, there are formal events celebrating Earth Day in 196 countries, with more than one billion people participating.
On the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, a constant stream of new products, packaging and materials not made to be recycled have led to the growing problem of trash overwhelming our landfills, streets, waterways and oceans. With a climate in crisis and the growing problem of trash pollution, California is taking action to secure a cleaner, climate-safe future.
The History of Earth Day
U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson (WI) organized the first Earth Day in 1970 as a way to force environmental issues onto the national political agenda. With the backdrop of the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring and two prominent environmental disasters in 1969 – a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara and a fire on the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River in Ohio – Sen. Nelson gained bipartisan support for a “national teach-in on the environment” set for April 22, 1970. The idea resulted in massive rallies across the country with more than 20 million Americans demanding action on the environment.
By December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and subsequently passed legislation that laid the foundation for environmental regulation in the United States. As a leader in environmental policy, California followed suit and established complementary laws to care for our state. California’s pioneering spirit continues today with groundbreaking efforts to combat climate change, reduce our reliance on landfills and create a sustainable future for generations to come.