Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.
Summer is wedding season! While it’s a time for love, family, friends, and happiness, weddings can also lead to a lot of waste. The good news is you have the power to prevent it! Whether you’re planning a wedding for a future date or you’re putting the final touches on your upcoming summer nuptials, these tips can help you tie the knot the sustainable way.
Close to the Heart
Destination weddings are an effective way to combine honeymoons, get away from your usual surroundings, and cut down on the guest list (not everyone is willing to travel to the Bahamas for a few days). But traveling to exotic, far-off lands can also be taxing on the planet due to emissions from planes, trains, and automobiles. If possible, opt for a venue closer to home where guests won’t have to travel far and can carpool together. Outdoor venues are also a good option—let the sun be your light source during the day, and use solar-charged lights in the evening.
It’s 2019—why are we still sending things via snail mail? OK, a wedding is a little different since it’s a special occasion, but if you want to cut down on paper waste and costs, sending out an evite is another viable option. Paperless invitations can still be elegant, classy, and unique while being cost-effective and wasteless. If there are some family members who don’t have email addresses (we’re talking to you, Aunt Ida), you can still print and send a handful of invitations without breaking the bank or the environment. And, if you’d like a keepsake for your wall or wedding album, you can print one out, too.
Do the Environment a Favor
Unfortunately, party favors are one of the biggest offenders at weddings. While they’re a traditional and fun way to take the happy occasion home with you, they often end up in the trash. If you’re willing, forego the little gifts altogether and give a small donation to a charity in your guests’ name. Or, give something that will eventually leave little to no waste, like small jars of honey, cute plants, tea/coffee/spice blends, or reusable bags, cups, or straws. Consider this rule of thumb at bridal showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties as well.
Dress to Impress ... the Earth
What do they say about weddings? Everyone will remember the dress and the cake! It’s so tempting to want to buy the most expensive, elegant, show-stopping dress, but secondhand or heirloom dresses are an often overlooked option. Besides, heirloom dresses have special meaning when you know they’re being lovingly handed down from a cherished family member or friend. Also, men rent tuxedos, so what’s the big deal about women renting dresses?
Let Them Eat Cake
Then send them home with leftovers! That goes for any food you may have at the end of the reception. The best way to handle food is to find out how many guests will be attending and plan for that number to prevent food waste altogether. But, if that doesn’t work out, you have a few options. Have your catering company, if you use one, pack up leftovers for guests. Or, you can donate uneaten food to local organizations for the food-insecure. Yes, it can be done, despite what your catering company might say! It’s important to make sure you have a food waste prevention or donation plan in place before the big day.
Continue the Celebration
Did you know you can donate a lot of items that can be reused after your wedding? Flowers can be donated and rearranged for hospitals, hospice facilities, and elderly communities to brighten people’s day. You can also allow your guests to take arrangements home, but whatever you do, don’t just toss all those flowers in the trash. Organic waste makes up the largest part of the waste stream. Decorations, dresses, favors, unwanted gifts that weren’t on your carefully curated registry, and wedding prep supplies can all be donated to prevent waste and allow someone else a chance to celebrate on a budget.
Sure, most of us love the excitement of getting and unwrapping gifts! But, before you get giddy with the registry scanner, consider requesting funds for your honeymoon instead. Cash is always a good way to go, but if you’d like to suggest your guests contribute to a fund that will help you pay for fun activities, there are several honeymoon registry sites. The highlight of your honeymoon could be that your loved ones help pay for it! Who needs another toaster that will eventually break and end up in the trash anyway? Plus, imagine all that shredded foil, glittery paper and ribbons—you can’t recycle that stuff!
If you’re into environmentalism, these tips are a great way to bring awareness to your guests and prevent waste. And they’re all great suggestions for saving money, too!Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jun 27, 2019
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.
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.
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!
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
We all know the phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” but we sometimes forget those three Rs are listed by priority. Used electronics are problematic and costly to manage and recycle, so it’s critical to consider more sustainable options. Here are a few.
Donate your old electronics to sources that will refurbish them or use them for parts. More and more E-waste recyclers are now taking part in the reuse movement and will accept items that can be refurbished or used for parts. ReUseIt Drop Box accepts re-useable laptops: Call (877) 738-7348, or visit www.earth911.org and search by county name to see regional choices. Also check out the CalRecycle search engine to find local e-waste recyclers.
Help minimize the environmental impact of e-waste by purchasing refurbished computers.
Refurbished products include electronics that were returned to a manufacturer or vendor for various reasons. Refurbished products are tested for functionality and defects before they are sold, and many come with warranties. Electronics in this group are often brand-new and were simply store returns that the customer decided they just didn’t want. Since the package was opened it has to be sold as “refurbished.” So in effect, you are purchasing a new product.
Other refurbished electronics may be older and rebuilt. Searching online provides valuable customer reviews of products and vendors and help determine how well the vendor stands behind their products through money-back guarantees and warranties. More electronics recyclers and some companies are expanding into the refurbished electronics market. Refurbished electronics can be purchased through any number of sources, both online and in some electronics stores, or even from the manufacturers directly.
I purchased a refurbished laptop six years ago that came with a 90-day warranty. I installed larger memory chips, also available online. It still works great, and I saved a lot of money!
Fix Them Yourself
There is a growing movement to fix electronics yourself. Many communities hold fix-it clinics. They are a lot of fun, and they provide an opportunity for tech-minded folks to volunteer time and support the community and learn along the way. A leader in the self-repair arena is IFIXIT, “the free repair guide for everything, written by everyone.” It contains instructions, tools, tips, and much more on how to fix almost any electronic device.
Any of these choices will help save valuable resources and prevent the landfilling of used electronics that can be refurbished instead. Buying refurbished also makes use of the existing products and prevents the negative environmental impacts created by the manufacture of new components and devices. Even if a device can’t be fully refurbished, some of the components could be harvested for reuse in other devices.
Remember: refurbish over recycle—it’s the higher use of the planet’s resources!Posted on In the Loop by Jim Madden, CalRecycle on May 13, 2019