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

  • Food Rescue Group Receives Second CalRecycle Grant

    CalRecycle has awarded $266,795 to the Kern County Public Health Services Department to expand its Waste Hunger Not Food program, which collects unserved food from local schools and restaurants and distributes it in local neighborhoods.

    The funds will be used for a refrigerated box truck and walk-in refrigeration to store food safely. The box trucks will allow Kern County to partner with food donors that donate food in large quantities. Since Waste Hunger Not Food launched in September 2018, the group has rescued more than 304,600 pounds of food.

    CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program aims to reduce methane emissions by keeping edible food out of California landfills and redistributing it to the 1 in 8 Californians (including 1 in 5 children) who are food-insecure. Many of these families live in disadvantaged communities, which means they have a disproportionate exposure to pollution and less access to healthy food.

    Kern County partners with City Serve, a local nonprofit that brings churches together to serve the community. Waste Hunger Not Food uses refrigerated trucks to collect food from restaurants and schools and quickly deliver it to churches that have been trained in food safety best practices.

    Churches are often located within residential neighborhoods, making it easy and convenient for volunteers to distribute the food. Some church volunteers simply carry signs through the neighborhoods that say “Free Food,” and word of mouth travels quickly. City Serve churches distribute food with no restrictions on how much food people can take.     

    This is the second grant CalRecycle has awarded to Kern County for the Waste Hunger Not Food program. The first grant for $191,963 was awarded in fiscal year 2016-17 and enabled the county to buy several refrigerated trucks to collect and transport donated food to distribute to the needy.

    The Waste Hunger Not Food mission aligns with the goals outlined in SB 1383, which requires California to reduce the disposal of organic waste (like food and yard waste) and divert at least 20 percent of edible food to food rescue organizations. Although SB 1383 regulations don’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2022, the program is giving schools and businesses a head start on compliance by donating edible food they would otherwise send to a landfill.

    Women loading refrigerated truck with donated food

    See the "Waste Hunger Not Food Overview Video"

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jul 11, 2019

  • Compost: Not Just for the Garden

    Compost is a soil amendment that is created from recycled organic materials like yard and food waste. Home gardeners and commercial farmers use it to add vital nutrients to the soil in their plant beds, resulting in larger and healthier plants, fruits, and vegetables. Compost has other uses, too. Here are a few ways compost is used in California outside a vegetable garden or farm.

    Erosion Control and Water Pollution Reduction

    Compost filter socks and blankets can help control erosion and retain sediment in disturbed areas. Compost socks consist of tubular netting filled with compost and are also effective at removing gasoline, diesel, and oil residues from runoff. CalTrans uses these compost applications frequently in their work along California’s highways. Check out these case studies on the use of compost socks for removing pollutants from rainwater runoff.

    Water Conservation

    Research has demonstrated that compost can allow soil to hold up to 30 percent more water, which can significantly help during periods of drought. Check out these resources and case studies on how to utilize compost for sustainable landscaping.

    Wildfire Remediation

    Wildfires destroy hundreds of thousands of acres of California forest every year, and they eliminate the soil’s protective vegetative layer, exposing it to wind and rain. Heavy rainfall on burned lands washes sediment into creeks and rivers and creates dangerous mudslides. Compost blankets improve soil structure, which helps rainfall absorb into the soil and provides an ideal environment for seeds to germinate and grow.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jun 24, 2019

  • Seeing the Big Picture in the CalEPA Headquarters Courtyard

    Every weekday morning, I walk up a stone pathway to the entrance of the CalEPA headquarters building. Like many CalEPA employees and visitors, I appreciate the natural landscape of the front courtyard space and occasionally sit outside on a stone bench under the redwood trees to eat my lunch. The courtyard is an area where tenants and visitors of the building can relax and enjoy California’s beautiful outdoors. Although I sensed the courtyard has an intentional design, I never gave it much thought until recently. I met with Property Manager Heidi Silveira and learned the landscape and artwork gracing the entrance to the building have significant meaning. The courtyard in front of the building reminds us of California’s many regions and our mission to protect public health and the environment. Take a tour with me.

    As you face the front entrance, you will notice to the right a winding wall of tall dark gray stones that wrap around the daycare facility’s outdoor playground. Miners originally quarried these serpentine slabs in 1800 for use in the construction of the San Francisco Ferry Building. The Ferry Building architects found fault with the stones, rejected them from the project, and left them in a field where they aged until CalEPA’s architect, David Martin, discovered them and repurposed them here. Today, they symbolize California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range.

    Directly in front of the rock pillar mountains are medium-sized, round boulders that represent the foothills of California that rise up between the valleys and mountains.

    A large, cream-colored walkway stretches down the middle of the courtyard from the I Street sidewalk to the building’s front doors. This walkway represents California’s fertile Central Valley. If you are standing on the second floor mezzanine and look out over the walkway, you’ll see the stones are laid in a pattern reminiscent of a bird’s eye view of California’s patchwork farmlands.

    CalEPA landscape photos

     

    Just to the left of the valley are beds dotted with plants native to California. Currently, you will see several species of wild grasses growing in large tufts. The landscape changes over time as droughts come and go and plants spread seeds and sprout volunteers in new places. This beautiful courtyard landscape requires ongoing maintenance to keep it healthy and beautiful. This spring, landscapers are adding new plants along the edge of the redwood grove to reduce the amount of redwood needles that blow into the building’s lobby. The landscapers will also better define the pathways to the stone seats to protect the plant beds.

    The grove of redwood trees remind us of California’s coastal range. A well-worn path guides you to small stone slabs nestled under the tree canopy. You may have noticed that the redwoods have a robust skirt of needles on the ground. Redwood needles are an ideal mulch for these majestic trees, and they help reduce water loss, regulate soil temperature, and prevent soil erosion.

    Perhaps the most well-known feature of the CalEPA building’s courtyard is the large sculpture installation by artist Beverly Pepper. Pepper believed that protecting the environment is a sacred responsibility and built this “monolithic sculpture and configuration of the sculpture [to] invoke the figure of a sentinel as a monument to the sacred duty of protecting nature.”

    Now when I walk to work, I look across the courtyard and remind myself that I am a small part of a big effort to safeguard California from pollution. I look up to the sentinels and remind myself I am an advocate for our natural resources and for environmental justice. From the mountains to the valleys to the coast and everywhere in between, the work we do is important.

    You can read more about Pepper’s work and other art in our building on CalEPA’s Public Art webpage.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jun 6, 2019