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

  • It's Easy Eating Green

    A Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

    It's Easy Eating Green: A Beginner's Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

    If you’ve been following any of my previous blogs, you already know I’ve been a lifelong environmentalist. From my stance on single-use straws and my drought-resistant landscape to my career at CalRecycle, I am a die-hard tree hugger!

    One subject I have not touched on yet is the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Although for me, it really had nothing to do with the environment (since there was little information about that back in the early '90s). It mostly had to do with my love of animals. If you read my straw blog, you’ll remember my dad taking me to fast food joints and refusing single-use plastic straws. It was in that same drive-through I learned that chicken nuggets came from chickens and burgers came from cows. Since then I have been conscious about the use of animal products, and the environmental advantages of not consuming meat were just a bonus.

    Reducing animal husbandry for food production can decrease carbon emissions, reduce meat and seafood waste byproducts, and significantly lower global fresh water use. Plus, eating more fruit and veggies is beneficial for your health! Here’s a primer on different types of less-meat diets. It’s a good idea to speak to a doctor or nutritionist before making a drastic change.

    Flexitarian

    Flexitarian: Being flexible with the amount of meat-free meals you eat daily or weekly

    As the name implies, flexitarians are flexible with the number of meat-free meals they choose to eat per week. It can be challenging to about-face your diet, so a flexitarian diet is a great way to slowly reduce your meat intake and replace it with plant-based proteins like legumes. When I became a vegetarian, it was a bit of an adjustment for my family members—the flexitarian diet allows you and your family to adjust without feeling like you’re being deprived of your favorite foods. It’s a great compromise for you and the planet.

    Vegetarian

    Vegetarian: Eating plant-based foods in addition to dairy, bread, and eggs

    I’d classify this as the intermediate diet—not too stringent, but not super-easy, either. This is where I’ve been for the past 23 years, and it works just fine for me. I eat mostly fruit, veggies, breads, dairy, and some meat substitutes like vegan “sausage” made from potatoes, apples, and spices. And because I live in California, it’s very easy to find multiple dishes at restaurants if I choose to eat out. If you are new to vegetarianism and are planning to eat at a new restaurant, always check the menu ahead of time to make sure you’re not caught off guard by a meat-filled menu. Additionally, if I ever get an order that includes meat by accident, I pick it off and give it to a friend or family member. There’s no use in sending it back or throwing it away—that’s just more waste!

    Vegan

    Vegan: Abstaining from eating or using any products produced by animals

    Personally, I find this diet too strict, but if it works, more power to you! Vegans exclude all animal products from their life—that means no animal byproduct foods or animal products like leather. It’s been hailed as the most eco-friendly and natural diet because no animals are raised, slaughtered, or eaten. However, other vegan products could be considered harmful to the planet, such as pleather clothing and accessories made from petroleum-based materials. And often “fake” animal product fashion doesn’t last as long as real leather, creating more waste. It may be worth considering using animal products when the alternative would be more harmful to the planet. (We never said the eco-warrior life was easy!)

    Not quite ready to give up your favorite burger joint? Ease into it with Meatless Mondays or find a method that works best for you. Protecting the environment is not a perfectly straight line—it’s a journey of finding what works for your lifestyle and the planet alike. As the saying goes, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” That works for other eco-friendly acts, too!

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jun 13, 2019

  • Planet Protecting-Prom: Dance the Night Away Eco-Guilt-Free

    Sandy and Danny dancing in the movie Grease

    Corsages and cummerbunds mark prom season just before the end of the school year. Soon students will be shopping for dresses, tuxes, and limos, but at what cost to the environment? If you’re a freshman to the world of sustainability, take note of these tips for a planet-protecting prom.

    Various prom dresses

    Give Fast Fashion the Slip

    It can be difficult to avoid those inexpensive clothing items when you or your teenager are fashion-forward on a budget. But, armed with the knowledge that the fashion industry (especially fast fashion) is one of the main contributors to landfill waste, pollution, and unfair labor practices, it might be a little easier to give up those bargain garments. Instead, try purchasing something secondhand. Just because it was previously owned, that does not mean it is cheap, tacky, or unsophisticated. In fact, most prom dresses are only worn once, so it’s likely any “used” dress will be in excellent condition—not to mention less expensive. You can also get creative and refashion a secondhand item that has potential. Don’t have enough room in your closet or not as creative as you’d like to be? Find a dress rental company in your area—tuxes are rented, so why can’t a dress be? Another option can be a formal clothing exchange between friends, an exchange program, or even your library—yes, your library! There are also plenty of places to donate your dress when you’re done with it.

    Olive Oyl applying makeup

    Makeover Your Cosmetic Bag

    Looking your best doesn’t stop at your outfit, and it shouldn’t come at the expense of the planet. Whether you or your teen wears makeup or simple moisturizer, applies lots of hair product or just needs a razor to get rid of unwanted stubble, there is an earth-friendly option for everyone. Start by asking what cosmetics and beauty accessories are made of—plastic or natural ingredients? Biodegradable or single-use? What about excess packaging? Look for zero-waste companies, or DIY your cosmetics.

    Limo driving to dance

    Limopool

    If you or your teen can afford to rent a limo, make sure to get as many passengers as possible. This will help offset the carbon emissions created by driving multiple cars, and it can also help bring down the cost of the rental. If a limo isn’t in the cards, try regular carpooling or even a pedicab if the venue is nearby. No one expects anyone to ride their bike in their formals, but a pedicab or even a horse-drawn carriage can be a fun and eco-friendly option if the dance is nearby.

    Peter Parker handing a corsage to his date

    Corsage Compost

    After the night is over, the formal footwear is kicked off and it’s time to hit the hay, don’t toss your boutoniere or corsage in the trash. If you don’t plan on hanging on to your flowers as a keepsake, compost it or throw it in your yard waste bin minus the ribbons, pins, and other decorations—you can always reuse those, but they don’t belong in the pile with other organic waste.

    Now get out there and promenade that planet-protecting way, knowing you did the right thing for future prom-goers!

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Apr 8, 2019

  • New State Laws Affecting CalRecycle--and You

    CalRecycle staff has been busy preparing to meet the department’s new statutory responsibilities. Here are the top new laws that CalRecycle will be helping to implement.

    Sharps and Pharmaceuticals EPR Program

    SB 212 (Jackson, Chapter 1004, Statutes of 2018) establishes the nation’s first extended producer responsibility program for sharps and pharmaceuticals. Much like CalRecycle’s current stewardship programs for paint, mattresses, and carpet, responsibility will be placed on manufacturers to participate through stewardship organizations (likely at least one for pharmaceuticals and one for sharps) to design, fund, and implement a take-back program for their products. CalRecycle will have oversight and enforcement responsibilities, which will require coordination with the Board of Pharmacy and possibly other state agencies. 

    Recyclable Food Service Packaging

    SB 1335 (Allen, Chapter 610, Statutes of 2018) requires vendors at all state agencies, facilities, and properties to use food service packaging that is reusable, recyclable, or compostable. SB 1335 authorizes CalRecycle to define “reusability,” “recyclability,” and “compostability” in the regulations, which take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

    Increased Compost Use in California

    AB 2411 (McCarty, Chapter 238, Statutes of 2018) adds to the provisions of the 1989 Compost Market Program by requiring CalRecycle to develop a plan to increase compost use for slope stabilization and for establishing vegetation during its wildfire debris cleanup efforts. It also requires CalRecycle to work with Caltrans to identify and implement best practices for cost-effective compost use along California highways. CalRecycle must review these best practices every five years and update them as needed.

    Recycling Center Reverse Vending Machines

    AB 2493 (Bloom, Chapter 715, Statutes of 2018) extends more flexibility related to the operation of reverse vending machines in California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program. Key changes address requirements for hours of operation and staffing hours, among others.

    Environmental Education

    SB 720 (Allen, Chapter 374, Statutes of 2018) reaffirms the state’s commitment to environmental education. It also directs that climate change be incorporated into the Environmental Principles and Concepts, which are the foundation for CalRecycle’s Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum.

    Lithium-Ion Battery Advisory Group

    AB 2832 (Dahle, Chapter 822, Statutes of 2018) requires CalEPA to convene an advisory group to review and advise the Legislature on policies related to the recovery and recycling of lithium-ion batteries sold in electric cars in California. The advisory group, which includes CalRecycle, must submit policy recommendations to the Legislature that help ensure most lithium-ion batteries in California are reused or recycled at the end of their useful life.

    Food Recovery: California Climate Investments

    AB 1933 (Maienschein, Chapter 808, Statutes of 2018) makes clear that the recovery of food for human consumption is an acceptable form of organic waste diversion eligible for Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grants and loans. In addition to providing clear authority for CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue Grant Program, the law also broadens the scope of projects eligible for CalRecycle climate investments. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 31, 2018