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

  • Environmental Bucket List

    It’s inevitable—whenever the New Year comes around, we all start thinking about what we’d like to accomplish in the upcoming 12 months. This year I’m taking a different approach and rather than making resolutions I have to keep all year, I’m making a list of items I’d like to do (or have done very recently) that benefit me and the environment.

    Environmental Bucket List

    Plant a Tree

    I’m proud to be able to check this off my list—three times over, actually—as of a few months ago. Originally my home came with a beautiful old tree in the backyard, but it was unhealthy and eventually cracked in half and fell over. Taking advantage of the free shade tree program in my city (see if your town has one), I was able to “adopt” three small native trees that will eventually grow into medium-sized shade trees, which will clean the air and lower my energy bill!


    Composting your organic waste is one of the best things anyone can do for the environment because it has so many environmental and economic benefits. It can add nutrients to the soil, prevent harmful methane gases from entering the atmosphere, and suck CO2 from the air. What I like about vermicomposting is the worms do the work for you. There are several ways to do it, but I plan to create a worm tube in the yard since it’s simple and effective. You can make one for your yard and toss in your food scraps, and the worms will do the rest.

    Go Paperless

    If you still get junk mail in your box, you can understand the frustration. Since I do pretty much everything online, there is no real need for mailed coupons, bank statements, or bills. I’ll be making it a point to sort through my bank, loan, and membership paperwork as it comes in so it’s not a time-consuming task. And for that overall sweep, these junk mail resources on CalRecycle’s website will come in handy. I can’t wait to open the mailbox only to see a birthday card from my grandma!  

    Go Au Natural

    Adding more nature products in my home can offer many benefits, including less waste, fewer chemicals, and sometimes cost savings. I have already started using soap nuts, wool dryer balls, and essential oils, but have not switched over to chemical-free cleaning products like vinegar, lemon, salt, and baking soda—ingredients that are less expensive than traditional cleaning products, but often just as effective.

    While not on my bucket list (I’ve already checked some off), here are some examples of items you can add to your own list. Try alternative forms of transportation like biking, walking, skateboarding, roller skating, carpooling, or good old-fashioned public transit. Upcycle a garage sale or thrift shop find to add character to your home or wardrobe. Adopt some houseplants for better air quality in your home or office. And finally, my favorite since I have been a lifelong vegetarian, go meatless for a bit or altogether if it fits your dietary needs.


    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jan 24, 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

  • Tools for the Home Composter

    food scraps

    Did you know composting your food waste helps the environment? When landfilled, organic material emits methane gas, which directly contributes to climate change. If you have outdoor space, consider composting to prevent methane emissions and to create a rich soil amendment for your own use. Find basic directions on our compost webpage, and check out these tools that can make it easier to compost at home.

    Kitchen Pails & Crocks

    Using a pail or crock to collect coffee grounds, onion peels, potato peels, and table scraps in your kitchen will reduce the number of trips you make to the green bin or your own compost bin.

    Kitchen pails and crocks are available in a variety of materials like stainless steel, ceramic, bamboo, and plastic. Look for a container with a lid, which prevents odors from permeating your kitchen. Or consider lining your pail with a compostable bag, which cuts down on odors and makes it easier to transport green waste to your curbside bin. (Note: Check with your local hauler to see if they accept compostable bags. Some haulers consider compostable bags to be contaminants.) Some pails and crocks work with charcoal filters, which also reduce odors.

    Composting Bins and Tumblers

    bins and tumblers

    Some Californians have a large backyard and can manage a compost pile on the ground, while others may have limited space or have concerns about attracting rodents with food scraps. If you want to contain your compost, you have several options. Wire cages, plastic bins, and wooden crates expose the outer edges of your compost pile to the air, but they require a manual turn with a pitchfork to aerate the center of the pile.

    Want to speed up the process? Consider composting with worms. Vermicomposting is an efficient way to compost in a small space, and worm compost is considered by many in horticulture to be the very best soil amendment available.

    Another option is a composting tumbler, which does not require heavy lifting to aerate the pile. Spin or turn your tumbler to aerate your compost more efficiently, which can reduce the amount of time it takes to convert organic waste into compost. Tumblers range in size from 25 gallons to 170 gallons, which makes them versatile options for every household.

    compost tools

    If you use a traditional compost pile or bin, a manual aerator tool can help you mix your compost pile without heavy lifting. If your pile isn’t transforming organic material into compost efficiently, consider troubleshooting with a compost thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

    Home composting creates a valuable soil amendment that contributes to healthier and more abundant produce in your backyard garden. We can each do our part to protect the environment and human health by reducing food waste and composting our kitchen scraps. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Dec 20, 2018