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

  • Eco Holiday Habits to Get on Santa's Nice List

    During the holidays many of us gather to share special meals, exchange gifts, and enjoy ourselves. As you prepare to host gatherings for your loved ones, consider how your celebrations create waste that contributes to climate change and adds to the growing amount of plastic in landfills. Are you being naughty or nice to the planet?

    Here are three ways to get on the planet’s Nice List this holiday season

    Naughty food waste; nice compost

    Naughty: Throwing Food in the Trash
    Nice: Lowering Food Waste with Meal Plans and Composting

    Meal Plan for Zero Food Waste

    Many of us consider lavish spreads of favorite holiday dishes the hallmark of a caring host. But excess food gives off high amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane once it’s dumped in a landfill. This is a major cause of climate change.

    Rethink your hosting ideals, brand your gathering eco-friendly, then don’t overbuy or overcook.

    Use the food GUEST-IMATOR tool to plan how much to prepare. If there are leftovers you know you won’t finish, send food home with your guests in reusable containers.

    Clean your plate or compost the rest.

    Try composting your food waste. If your curbside organics collection doesn’t accept food, ask local community gardens if you can contribute to their compost bin.

    Consider setting up your own home compost. It can help grow healthier, heartier plants. Winter is the ideal time to start compost that will be ready to add to your garden in the spring.

    Easy tips for starting to compost

    naughty: single use disposable plastic. Nice: reusable dishes.

    Naughty: Single-Use Plastic
    Nice: Reusable Dishes and Utensils

    “Disposable” Plastic Lasts Forever

    Many hosts choose the ease of disposable plates, cutlery, and cups for holiday gatherings. But that plastic your guests use for just a few minutes will never biodegrade. It stays on the planet, slowly breaking down into toxic microplastics.

    About 10 percent of all trash is plastic. Forty million Californians create more than 3.2 million tons of plastic waste every year.

    Reusable plates and cutlery give the gift of a cleaner planet. Less trash in landfills is worth a few extra minutes of cleanup.

    Naughty: dirty recyclables; nice: clean recyclables

    Naughty: Dirty Recyclables
    Nice: Clean Recyclables 

    Rinse Containers Before Recycling

    Recyclables tainted with food or water can leak onto surrounding paper and cardboard, and create a contaminated, unrecyclable mess. In 2018 China stopped accepting certain US mixed recyclable shipments because many arrived full of mold and had to be thrown away in landfills.

    Clean your containers to keep recycling from becoming garbage. 

    Not sure about that greasy pizza box? Tear off the oily parts and toss those in the trash. The remaining clean cardboard can go in your blue bin.

    Check out this quick video on recycling contamination.

    With a few small changes, you can make a difference for the planet even as you enjoy this festive season. Get more eco-friendly holiday hints to use this year.

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Dec 23, 2019

  • Save or Splurge on Holiday Experience Gifts: Collect Memories, Not Excess Stuff

    The holidays are upon us, and many of us are scrambling to find the perfect gift for the important people in our lives. Consider Mother Nature this year and give experience gifts instead. Packaging makes up about 25 percent of California’s trash, and swapping out just a few items on your list in favor of an experience gift can make a difference. Most experience gifts can be given digitally, which means little to no trash created in celebration of the holidays. Here are a few experience gift ideas that are budget-friendly and splurge-worthy. 

     

    Save $30 on Movie tickets; Splurge $90 on theater tickets.


    With many streaming options available for in-home entertainment, it’s easy to stay in to catch the latest show. Opt for an evening out and consider taking a friend or loved one to see a classic movie on the big screen or a Broadway show.

    Movie tickets will set you back about $10-15 per person, while theater tickets will likely start at $45 and go up from there. Take a bus or train and save on parking, gas, and greenhouse gas emissions.

     

    Save $50 on museum tickets; splurge $100 on online art classes.

     

    Do you have an artist in your life? Plan a day at a local museum or art gallery for inspiration. Admission prices are usually $15 per ticket, but special exhibits may cost a few bucks more. If you’re feeling generous, buy an online painting or drawing class from a popular artist.

    Skillshare.com has some great options.

     

    Save $75 on restaurant dinner; splurge $150 on cooking classes.

     

    Nothing brings people together like a nice meal. For a budget-friendly option, opt for dinner at a restaurant for $45-75. For the foodies in your life, splurge on a cooking class. Most grocery co-ops have cooking classes, and some popular restaurants offer them as well.

    Classes usually start around $75 per person.

     

    Save $100 on fancy pedicure; splurge $200 on spa day.

     

    Pamper that special someone in your life with a fancy pedicure at a local salon. An upgraded pedicure may include aromatherapy, special scrubs and lotions, and a longer foot massage. If you want to go all out, consider a gift certificate for a spa day.

    A luxurious level pedicure can range at between $45-100.

    A massage, facial, and pedicure package will start around $200.

    No matter your budget, you can usually find an eco-friendly way to show you care. If you do have gifts to wrap, consider sustainable gift wrapping like reusable gift bags or Furoshiki, the Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in fabric. Check out our Reusable Holiday Wrapping blog for more tips!

    —Christina Files

     

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Dec 13, 2019

  • Save the Guac!

    Save the Guac!

     

    Today is National Guacamole Day. Now, I know it’s basically a sin to waste guacamole, but sometimes it’s hard to eat it all before it turns brown. Some folks swear by laying down a thin layer of plastic cling wrap over a bowl of guacamole to prevent it from browning, but that’s not the most sustainable option and creates unnecessary waste. Reduce your food waste by learning how to store avocados and preserve guacamole so it doesn’t turn an unappetizing shade of brown before you can get back to it.  

    Green Avocados

     

    Storing Uncut Avocados

    Starting with perfectly ripe avocados is key to preserving guacamole. Pick bright green, unripe avocados, which will ripen over a few days if you leave them out on the countertop. If you need a ripe avocado the next day, tuck it into a paper bag with an apple or banana, which will speed up the ripening process. Once ripe, move the fruit into the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process so it stays fresher longer.

    Cut avocado with pit

    Storing Cut Avocados

    The darkening of guacamole or avocado is due to the process of oxidation, which is the chemical reaction between the avocado fruit and air. If you’re only going to use half an avocado, leave the pit in the other half when storing it in the fridge, which will slow down the ripening process. 

    Guacamole with chips

     

    Saving Leftover Guac for Later

    Once you smash an avocado up, you’ve maximized the oxidation potential by exposing most of the fruit’s flesh to air. If you want your guac to look fresh for a few hours on the table, consider the following preservation techniques.

    • Add lime or lemon juice to your guac. The acid will help reduce oxidation.
    • Tuck the pits from the avocados into your guac bowl. They’ll help prevent browning, too. (But, it’s the pits trying to dip a chip into a crowded guac bowl!)
    • Some swear by mixing sour cream, Greek yogurt, or mayonnaise into guacamole, which creates a barrier or seal between the fruit and the air.
    • My personal favorite trick is to sprinkle Ball’s Fruit-Fresh Produce Protector onto a bowl of guac. You can find it in most grocery stores with the canning supplies, and this mixture of vitamin C and citric acid prevents the natural browning that comes with oxidation on cut avocados, apples, and potatoes. It’s tasteless and works great!

    If you’re looking to reduce your food waste in general, it’s helpful to learn a little bit about how to store fresh produce and prepared foods so they have a long shelf life. The U.S. EPA offers great storage tips to help your fruits and vegetables last longer.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 16, 2019