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

  • Environmental Pathways

    Preparing Future Leaders to Protect the Environment

    In January, a handful of CalRecycle staff members participated in mock interviews with environmentally focused high school students in the San Francisco Unified School District.

    The interviews were part of the school district’s Career Pathways program, which introduces students to different career paths. Mentors help students in the program explore their personal strengths and interests, build their resumes, and participate in mock interviews and internships to prepare for their individual college and career paths.

    The program’s Energy, Environment, and Utilities pathway uses project-based learning to provide a more authentic, work-based learning experience for students interested in those career fields. Last month’s mock interviews were a chance for students to gain experience before their formal interviews for upcoming summer internships. CalRecycle staffers provided feedback on student resumes, shared stories (good and bad) about their interview experiences, and provided tips and constructive criticism to help prepare students for future interviews.

    “Collaborative programs like this are great examples of how to give students the practical skills they’ll need to navigate their work and college goals,” said Bendan Blue, an environmental scientist with of CalRecycle’s Office of Education and the Environment.

    Angela Vincent, Maria Salinas, and Julia Dolloff provide feedback to students at Mission High School.

     

    Having the opportunity to interview high school juniors and seniors in preparation for formal interviews was both fun and eye-opening. For Julia Dolloff, an environmental scientist at CalRecycle, it was a reminder of how both gender and upbringing can influence a young woman’s confidence in her professional abilities. Dolloff found it important to remind the young women she interviewed that they have skills in leadership, innovation, problem solving, and creativity, even if they acquired those skills in an unpaid setting. For example, caring for a younger sibling or helping out at a parent’s small business are experiences students can cite as testaments to their leaderships abilities. Through constructive feedback during and after the interviews, Dolloff was able to help these young women portray a stronger sense of confidence in their professional skills.

    “It was rewarding to be that strong example, with my colleagues Maria Salinas and Angela Vincent, of women succeeding in the workplace,” Dolloff said. “I hope others feel inclined to work with youth, and especially young women, through similar events to help support them on their way to greatness.”

    For CalRecycle’s Environmental Justice program manager, Maria Salinas, the experiences sparked an influx of joy and sadness. “There was an odd paradox between the beautiful old buildings with much-needed repairs,” said Salinas. She enjoyed the bold student artwork against the old architecture and hearing some teachers speaking Spanish to their students. “If only adults were as creative as they were in their youth and more adults spoke their first language more freely,” Salinas said. Many of the students who participated in the mock interviews were first- or second-generation Americans.

    Another insight Salinas noted was the youthful innocence of the students juxtaposed with their ambitions. “It happens so much in serving others. … We were there to inspire, and they inspired us,” Salinas said. “I told students to reach for the sky. It reminded me to do the same in my own life and career.” 

    A group of students and professionals who participated in one of the mock interview sessions.

     

    The experience was as rewarding for the CalRecycle staffers as it was for the students. As a volunteer, I realized that I also could benefit from most of the advice I gave to the students. When asked to provide an example of leadership, one student expressed that he felt he wasn’t a leader because he was shy. I tried to build his confidence by pointing out attributes that he could cite for potential employers, such as listening well, paying attention to detail, and being able to take direction. Pushing himself out of his comfort zone to take on leadership roles could help him grow personally and professionally, despite his shyness, I told him.

    As a fellow introvert, I felt I could relate to the student. It is important for me to listen to my own advice to work on my leadership skills and confidence in professional settings.

    Staff members all felt fortunate to be able to participate, both for their own personal growth and to give back to others. Thanks to the CalRecycle staff who were able to take the time to help develop our future leaders. It is a good reminder of why we do what we do: protect the environment for generations to come. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Feb 7, 2019

  • A New Twist on 'Out With the Old'

    It’s a new year and time to reflect on lessons learned in 2018. At CalRecycle, we’re not big fans of “out with the old,” unless we’re talking about old, outmoded mindsets about “waste” vs. “material that can be used again to make cool new things.”

    Take, for example, our Social Committees and our Zero Waste team, which teamed up to create the Inaugural Zero Waste Competition between Sacramento and Southern California staff for our Annual Summer Picnics.

    The Sunshine Club, the Long Beach office’s Social Committee, has been putting on an annual Zero Waste picnic for the past five years. This year, they challenged Sacramento staff to a waste reduction competition. The prize? Bragging rights for the next year—plus a repurposed, upcycled Zero Waste trophy!

    Zero Waste team members Priyanka Talanki and Benjamin Johnson.  Kathleen Strickely showing off the Zero Waste trophy

    Left: Zero Waste team members Priyanka Talanki and Benjamin Johnson built the Zero Waste trophy from upcycled material.  Right: Kathleen Strickely shows off the completed trophy.

    The Social Committees and Zero Waste team worked diligently to reduce waste upstream by asking attendees to bring their own “mess kit” and offering reusable plates and utensils for a $1 rental fee on the day of each picnic. Food waste was composted, excess food was donated, and beverage containers were sent to a recycling center to redeem for the California Refund Value (CRV). All remaining waste was weighed and divided by the number of attendees to come up with a comparable metric for the two picnics: “per-capita” disposal, or the amount of waste per person. 

    As a team-building exercise, the staffers took an old soda bottle, scrap aluminum, and a piece of driftwood to create the Zero Waste trophy. 

    And, the winner of the inaugural Zero Waste competition, weighing in at .037 lbs. of waste per person, was … (drum roll please) … Southern California!

    Sacramento came in at a close second with .05 lbs. of waste per person.

    Together, CalRecycle staff diverted 139.9 lbs. of waste from landfills by reusing, recycling, composting, and donating excess materials from the Annual Summer Picnics.

    If reducing waste is on your New Year’s Resolution list, that's great! Planning a Zero Waste event is not rocket science. However, it does take some extra effort. Ask yourself: How can you reduce waste in the first place? What kinds of material do you anticipate generating? How are you going to collect material? What is the highest and best use of the discards? Who is going to divert the material? It is essential to have a dedicated team of people who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty!

    As CalRecycle staff, it is important for us to embody the values of our department. As the leading agency on waste and recycling, it is important for us to “walk the walk” and lead by example. Striving for zero waste events is a small, but fun way to carry our mission to conserve resources, protect the environment, and help combat climate change.

    The Long Beach office accepting the Zero Waste trophy on behalf of Southern California staff.

    Long Beach office staff accepted the Zero Waste trophy on behalf of Southern California staff.

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Jan 7, 2019

  • "Bee" on Your Way to a Zero Waste Halloween!

    Wrap your candy in beeswax cloth wrap and reuse it for leftovers or a pack lunch

    CalRecycle’s Social Committee and Zero Waste team have joined forces for a Zero Waste Halloween by using reusable packaging and buying candy in bulk to make “Boo Grams” for their co-workers and friends. You can make them, too!

    This year’s CalRecycle “Boo Grams” come in either a reusable mason jar or homemade beeswax cloth wrap.  Beeswax cloth wraps are an alternative to plastic wrap. They are designed to store food or to wrap treats. 

    You can buy reusable beeswax wraps, but, it turns out, making your own is a fun and easy DIY project! I attended a workshop at the Ecology Center in Berkeley to learn how. Read on to learn how to “bee” on your way to a Zero Waste Halloween!

    How to make your own beeswax cloth wrap

    Materials needed:

    Directions:

    • Cut the fabric to your desired size.
    • Use the cheese grater to grate the beeswax. If you have the pellets, skip this step.
    • Place the fabric on the ironing board with a piece of parchment paper underneath and on top.
    • Spread a handful of beeswax on the cloth. (Note: Less is more!)
    • Use the iron to melt the beeswax onto the cloth. Add more beeswax, if necessary, to areas on the cloth with no wax. 
    • Use pinking shears to trim the edges.
    • Voila! Enjoy your DIY beeswax wrap!

    How to care for your beeswax wrap

    Use your beeswax wrap to wrap sandwiches, cheeses, or produce, or to cover a bowl!

    • Wash with cool water and gentle soap. Let dry.
    • Use the warmth of your hands to flatten it out for storage.
    • To store, use the warmth of your hands to flatten it.
    • Not recommend for use with raw meat.

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Oct 29, 2018