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

  • Holiday waste-reduction roundup: 7 tips for low-waste festivities

    Here’s a roundup of ways to reduce your holiday footprint! See the links for more details.

    1. Utilize reusable plates, utensils, and napkins

    Whether they’re posing as fine china or cheap dinnerware, there is no place for disposable plates, plastic utensils, and paper napkins this holiday season. Yes, using the real thing does mean extra time in the kitchen cleaning up. But, by choosing kitchenware, you can lead by example and choose a short-term inconvenience for long-term (and often indirect) gains. You can also use this opportunity to solidify a work ethic in your little ones by inviting them to help with the cleanup! 


    2. Give experiences rather than stuff

    Instead of spending money on cheap novelties with little value, think about giving the gift of experience. Movie tickets, sports games, comedy specials, and concerts make great gifts that allow you and your loved ones to make memories that will last longer than that ugly sweater or flimsy trinket. 
    Save or Splurge on Holiday Experience Gifts: Create Memories, Not Trash

    3. Nix the wrapping paper

    Skip the wrapping paper and opt for reusable bags. Repurpose some you already have or buy new ones that can be reused year after year. If nixing wrapping paper makes you say “Bah Humbug!” then think about using old cereal and shoe boxes to take the first step in going completely reusable. Reusable Holiday Wrapping

    4. Just say no to the frosted Christmas tree

    Many cities and counties offer Christmas tree recycling. However, if you opt for a flocked tree, most often these cannot be recycled because of the chemical content used to give the tree that frosted look. Go au natural or opt for an artificial tree that be reused year after year.

    5. Bundle up instead of cranking up the heat

    Bring out the blankets and throw on the sweaters to decrease your energy use this holiday season. Instead of blasting the heat, bundle up to save energy and money too!


    6. Let no food go uneaten

    When planning your holiday feasts, try your best to not overbuy or overcook. Make sure you have containers on hand to offer leftovers to guests. If there is still excess food, donate the leftovers to a local food pantry or homeless shelter to ensure nothing is wasted and to help out those less fortunate in your community. 
    Reduce Holiday Waste with Party Portion Planning

     7. Recycle

    Make sure to have separate bins to capture all recyclable and compostable items. Signage will help reduce contamination. If you are using reusable plates, napkins, and cutlery, recycling all beverage containers, and composting leftover food scraps, you are well on your way here having a zero waste holiday season!



    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Dec 22, 2016

  • Environmental Justice: Theory and Practice


    CalRecycle’s Education and the Environmental Initiative (EEI) curriculum defines environmental justice as “respecting and valuing every individual and community by conducting public health and environmental protection programs and policies in a way that promotes equity and fair treatment for all, regardless of race, age, culture, income, or geographic location.”

    In California, environmental justice issues are prevalent in rural and in urban communities. The state’s CalEnviroScreen tool helps decision makers, community leaders, and educators explore these issues in California. The tool maps multiple sources of pollution and pairs that information with population data to create a score that reflects environmental and public health issues in a particular area and the vulnerability of the people who live there.


    As an employee of CalRecycle and a graduate student in Urban Sustainability, I had the unique opportunity to develop an environmental justice project. I approached CalRecycle’s Office of Education and the Environment to seek out a fieldwork experience that proved to have many benefits: It offered me an opportunity to explore something I am passionate about, it satisfied my school credits, and it moved the needle in CalRecycle’s environmental justice efforts.

    This unfolded as a yearlong effort to explore the nexus between environmental justice and CalRecycle’s Education and Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum. The EEI is a part of a statewide effort to increase environmental literacy among K-12 students by integrating key environmental concepts into the teaching of traditional science and history-social science standards. The curriculum is provided to California teachers free of charge, and various lessons can be used to address environmental justice issues in the classroom. 

    All students, whether or not they are from environmentally impacted communities, can benefit from developing environmental literacy and a foundational understanding of how environmental injustices occur and how they can be addressed and, ideally, prevented in the future. 

    One of the first outcomes of this project was an environmental justice teacher training for educators in Los Angeles. We highlighted an 11th-grade U.S. History-Social Science unit titled “The United States and Mexico: Working Together.” We conducted role-play activities to showcase how students can explore different perspectives of the same issues and empathize with others. An outline of this training can be found here:


    Another exciting outcome of this project was working with a group of students from an environmental justice organization in Los Angeles, Pacoima Beautiful

    This high school club of Pacoima Beautiful, Youth United Towards Environmental Protection (YUTEP), is led by Diego Ortiz and Jazmine Saucedo. Together, we crafted an environmental justice service-learning project that explored environmental justice issues in their community using CalEnviroScreen and the EEI curriculum as tools. The essential question was: How can we combat environmental justice issues within our community in order to keep people safe and healthy?

    YUTEP was trained to use the CalEnviroScreen tool as part of Cal/EPA’s Enforcement Initiative in Pacoima. You can read about the outcome of the initiative here

    Students used CalEnviroScreen to identify, research, and investigate issues such as illegal dumping, lack of green spaces, air pollution from diesel truck emissions, and Superfund sites in their community.

    EEI resources supported participants’ preparation and the reflection. The project culminated with a student-led environmental justice forum as the “action” to share with the community what they had learned and how they can address the issues the explored.


    The next step is to outline this project in a form that teachers can recreate in the classroom.  A group of teachers in Pacoima is embarking on an interdisciplinary environmental justice project modeled on the project.

    CalRecycle has embarked  on its environmental justice journey under the leadership of Maria Salinas. 

    “At its core, environmental justice is about equity,” Salinas said. “In California, the nation, and the world, low-income people and people of color are most impacted by pollution burdens.  Environmental justice is about improving these conditions for healthier communities.  At CalRecycle, we are continuing genuine efforts to work with disadvantaged communities and respond to their comments and concerns.  Correspondingly, we are making our programs, services, and decision making process more accessible by providing more information to the public and disadvantaged communities and translating materials when needed.  I call EJ ‘the civil rights of the environment.’ After all, the civil rights movement is about equal access to, and opportunities for, basic privileges and rights in America.  There is nothing more basic, important, and deserving than human health and the environment for everyone.”

    This project is about making sure all California students receive equal access to the curriculum.  It is also about educating our youth about environmental justice in order to help combat these injustices within our communities. It has been an honor exploring the intersection between environmental justice and the EEI curriculum, and I look forward to establishing CalRecycle’s role in educating our youth to create and sustain healthy communities. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Nov 17, 2016

  • Want to Save the Planet? Educate the Children

    I did not grow up with environmental values. At best, I was unaware of the impacts of my actions on the environment and, at worst, I could be deemed a “litter bug.” It wasn’t until college that I became aware of climate change and how devastating our actions, as humans, have been to the planet—our Mother Earth.

    While studying abroad in Germany during my college years, I witnessed first-hand how environmental values were ingrained in children in that culture. I enrolled in a children’s literature class, which inspired me to self-publish a children’s book teaching kids about the environment in a fun way—through song and dance. I realized the importance of educating children at a young age and wanted to create an experience I did not have as a child.

    The book opens with this quote:                                      

    “Children are the world’s most valuable resource and its best hope for the future.” John F. Kennedy

    As a proud employee of CalRecycle, an agency that manages resources in the literal sense (beverage containers, motor oil, electronics, tires, food waste, etc.), it is important for us to recognize one of the most precious resources we have: our youth. I was thrilled to find out that CalRecycle’s Office of Education and the Environment is working to build environmental literacy among California K-12 students through the state’s Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum.

    This free K-12 curriculum is a gold mine for teachers looking to engage their students on environmental topics. The EEI curriculum teaches science and history-social science through an environmental lens. Each unit is beautifully laid out and equipped with textbook “alignments.” These alignments serve as a guide for teachers to know where they can put their traditional textbook down and can pick up the EEI curriculum. In this way, they can teach select California standards, but with the environment in mind.


    As a Master’s degree student in an Urban Sustainability program and focusing on education, I realize the significance of curriculum such as EEI. And, I have had the great pleasure of working with the folks from the Office of Education and the Environment on a school project. This involved engaging with teachers interested in bringing this type of education to their students.

    Teachers are always looking for ways to get their students excited about the learning process. Often, environmental topics are directly related to our health—the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. This garners interest from kids from the get-go. As an environmental educator focused on the “fun” aspect, I understand the importance of student engagement. Kids are more apt to learn and retain if their interest is peaked.

    As a late-blooming environmental activist, I am happy to know that our students in California have the opportunity to achieve environmental literacy through a public school education.

    For the concept of sustainability—in which our environmental, social, and economic aspects of our lives are in balance—to become a reality, children must be educated at a young age. We need a generation of kids growing up thinking about how their own actions, and the systems that are in place, affect the environment. A new generation equipped with environmental education will help us create the future we want to see. In addition, let’s not overlook the fact that educating children can also result in a heightened environmental awareness in parents: a two-for-one deal! Children have a wide-eyed curiosity and a plethora of untapped potential; it is crucial to invest in our young people and environmental education.


    Originally posted by davahatunu

    If you are a teacher, know a teacher, or are interested in promoting environmental literacy in the children you love, check out this innovative curriculum tailored to California’s youth. Read more about how the curriculum was developed and access the resources online at

    –Angela Vincent
    Angela Vincent is a recycling specialist at CalRecycle and author of Save Queen Green! Mother Nature’s Eco-Rhymes.


    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Jun 23, 2016