Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: At CalRecycle, we really do practice what we preach. From food waste bins in our break rooms to zero-waste social events and produce crop swaps, we’re no strangers to living sustainably at work and at home! So it should come as no surprise that our social committee, with the help of our zero waste team, recently hosted a reusable bag DIY during the lunch hour for everyone in our headquarters building, not just CalRecyclers. (Inclusivity is super-important, especially when it comes to saving the planet!)
Participants were encouraged to bring an old T-shirt, scrap fabric, or a pillowcase to redesign into a reusable bag that can be taken to the weekly farmers market across the street from our headquarters building, or anywhere else. Those who weren’t able to bring their own supplies were able to choose from a selection of fabric scraps and extra T-shirts provided at the workshop. That’s a good thing, because about 95 percent of textiles like fabric and clothing that are landfilled could have easily been recycled or repurposed.
This project is perfect for those who consider themselves “challenged” in the crafts department because it doesn’t require any sewing (unless you want to). In fact, it’s so simple we recommend trying it with the kiddos this summer—it’s a great way to get them involved in reducing, reusing, and recycling.Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark and Syd Fong on Jul 29, 2019
It's Wednesday, and in downtown Sacramento, that means it's farmers market day! Lucky for us at CalRecycle, the CalEPA building is catty-corner from Cesar Chavez Park, which hosts the market. We've been urging our colleagues to bring reusable bags to the market to carry their produce rather than accept single-use bags from vendors. See our Less-Waste Farmers Market video for the story.Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Jun 5, 2019
With the ban on single-use plastic bags now firmly on the books in California, you might be wondering what kind of impact this will have. To answer that question, it’s worth exploring what kind of impact these bags have had on our environment and economy in the past. Let’s take a brief look at the history of plastic bags in America.
Single-use plastic grocery bags were introduced as an alternative to paper bags in 1977. As of 2016, 90 percent of all grocery bags were plastic. Until the plastic bag ban was passed, Californians were using 13 billion to 20 billion plastic bags every year, and only 3 percent of them were recycled.
Plastic Bags Contribute to Oil Dependence
Thin, single-use plastic bags are a petroleum-based product, so they contribute to U.S. oil dependence and accelerate climate change. An estimated 12 million barrels of petroleum oil are used to produce 100 billion plastic bags.
Plastic Bags Cause Marine Pollution
After 40 years of escalating plastic bag use in America, we have learned a lot about their impact on our environment. They make their way into our waterways and ultimately contribute to marine pollution. Plastic bags do not biodegrade, but instead break down into smaller pieces, which is devastating for marine life. Turtles mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish and eat them.
Birds are drawn to them because the bacteria that clings to their natural food source also clings to the plastic. The result is that many marine animals are consuming so much indigestible plastic that they feel full but are actually starving because what they consume has no nutritional value.
Additionally, animals get trapped in plastic and cannot get free, resulting in impaired movement or death.
The Ocean Conservancy estimates that plastic bags kill 1 million seabirds and 100,000 other animals worldwide each year. We spend roughly $428 million each year to protect our waters from litter, and up to 25 percent of that is attributable to plastic bags alone.
Plastic Bags Are Difficult and Expensive to Recycle
Thin plastic bags are rarely recycled and are difficult to manage in the waste stream. They easily float out of garbage trucks and blow across transfer stations and landfills. Processing plastic bags is difficult as well, with waste sorting machines often jammed or gummed up with plastic bags, causing damage and facility downtime.
Sacramento has reported shutting down sorting equipment 6 times a day to remove plastic bags at its recycling facility. San Joseestimated an annual loss of $1 million each year due to plastic bag repairs in its facilities. This is important because achieving the benefits of recycling—such as resource conservation, clean alternative energy and the slowing of climate change—relies in part on maintaining the financial viability of recycling-based enterprises.
A Future Without Single-Use Carryout Bags
People are quickly adjusting to the plastic bag ban and bringing reusable bags with them to the grocery store. It’s a small step that will make a big impact for this generation and those to come.Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jan 9, 2017