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

  • Smashing Pumpkins

    How to recycle Jack-o-Lanterns

    Now that Halloween is over and the trick-or-treating is all done, you probably have a jack-o’-lantern still sitting on your front porch. Seriously, what are you going to do with that pumpkin?

    Well, a lot of people simply put it in the trash can, and that’s not the best place to put it.

    If tossed into the trash, a rotting pumpkin will decompose like any other food waste and emit methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.

    American’s likely spent $377.23 million on pumpkins for carving into jack-o-lanterns in 2019. Across the nation, more than 650,000 tons (1.3 billion pounds) of pumpkin flesh could be headed to landfills because many consumers will carve the pumpkin but not consume it.

    So, what’s a possible solution? Well, how about composting old pumpkins?

    If you have a green waste curbside collection bin, chances are you can put your pumpkin in there where it will be taken to a compost or anaerobic digestion facility and turned into biofuel. If you would like to compost the pumpkin in your own compost pile, you can find a compost recipe and tips on our website. But here’s the basic gist of how to get it done.

    • Remove candles, artificial lighting, or any other decorations that are in or attached to the pumpkin. Pumpkins that have been decorated with paint or glitter should not be composted.
      • Remove the seeds so you don’t risk starting a pumpkin patch in your compost pile. (It’s OK if you do—just turn those pumpkins back into more compost.)
      • A clean pumpkin can be added to an existing compost pile and mixed in with other ingredients.
      • Another bonus to composting pumpkins—you can smash the orange head into smithereens and compost all of the tiny pieces. (Such a good way to let out your aggression after someone egged your house. Darn kids!)

      Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Nov 4, 2019

    • Don't Scare the Planet with Your Halloween Costume


      Pumpkins with plastic ghosts. Don't scare the planet with your halloween costume

      Many costumes are made with the intention to scare folks during Halloween. But one of the scariest statistics about this spooky day is that people spend about $8.8 billion, or $75 per person, on Halloween-related items, including costumes that get thrown away.

      According to a CalRecycle waste characterization report, more than 1.24 million tons of textiles were disposed in California landfills in 2014. Every year, Californians spend more than $70 million to dispose of used textiles in landfills, and 95 percent of this material is actually reusable or recyclable

      So, why not save money and the environment by being a little creative when deciding what to wear for Halloween? Here are some simple tips to consider:

      • Check out Pinterest for DIY costume ideas, and then peruse your own closet or local thrift store to create your next costume.
      • Instead of purchasing a plastic or rubber Halloween mask, use makeup or non-toxic face paint that you already have to create your look. 
      • Look in your recycling bin for anything that can be used for Halloween costumes and decorations. How about using a cardboard box to create a robot costume?
      • Save your kiddo’s costumes and host a Halloween costume swap party before next Halloween.
      • If you can’t hang on to the costumes for that long, consider donating them to organizations like a local theater company, day care provider, or thrift store.

      Along with alternative plans for Halloween costumes, maybe consider a different way for kids to carry their trick-or-treat candies. Instead of using those plastic pumpkins, consider creating your own reusable bag. In this video, our CalRecycle team shows how easy it is to make one with an old shirt.


      Posted on In the Loop by Tracey Harper and Syd Fong on Oct 31, 2019

    • Reducing is the New Recycling

      Simple Changes I’ve Made Since Coming to Work at CalRecycle

      Sometime in the last year, I had an epiphany: It’s not enough to simply recycle. I must figure out a way to reduce the amount of waste I generate. It can be hard, but I decided to take it one step at a time. Here are a couple of things I have learned along my way to a more eco-friendly lifestyle. 

      Separating Out My Recyclables Influences How I Shop

      Truth be told, before working at CalRecycle I only separated out CRV items and cardboard to recycle. I honestly didn’t think about folding down cereal and pasta boxes or crumpling paper shipping packaging into a recycling bin before working here. Now that I do it, I realize just how many resources I have thrown away over my lifetime. 

      I have found that I have unintentionally generated more waste in the pursuit of other goals. For example, conveniently packaged individual-size snacks may help with calorie-counting or meal prep, but there’s no doubt it creates more waste. I came to terms with the fact that generating less waste is going to cost me some time and effort, but I can manage to juggle two goals at once by doing things a little differently. For example, rather than buy a bunch of small, single-serving yogurts for a quick breakfast on the go, I buy one large container of yogurt and transfer it into small mason jars.  

      Using Reusable Items over Single-Use Items

      Have you ever wondered how much trash you have thrown away over a lifetime? It’s a little shocking when you think about it. Let’s say I bought one cup of coffee from a cafe per week for the last 20 years. I have thrown away at least 1,040 disposable cups of varying sizes. Because those cups are often lined with a thin plastic coating, they’re not easily recyclable. I still use disposable cups when I forget my tumbler at home, but I’m aiming to bring it with me and reduce my personal waste. 

      I have also started declining anything I won’t actually use when I order takeout food, like individually wrapped toppings I don’t like, extra napkins, straws, and cutlery. I have found that only some beverages require a straw (like milkshakes), and I don’t need single-use plastic cutlery when I’m bringing food home to eat. I am not a fan of nuts, so I started declining a small plastic pouch of nuts for my favorite drive-thru ice cream. My baby steps are adding up.

      Buying Groceries Mindfully to Prevent Food Waste

      Food waste causes climate change. Until I worked at CalRecycle, I had no idea that my spoiled leftovers had an impact on anything more than my personal finances. You can read more on our Climate Methane Emissions Reductions webpage about how food waste creates methane when it’s buried in a landfill, but the gist is that every plate of food we scrape into the trash contributes to climate change. I decided I could be a little bit better about eating what I buy. I move “eat now” items toward the front of my refrigerator and write a more detailed grocery list so I don’t buy items I won’t likely cook and eat. 

      Everyone can head toward a more sustainable lifestyle by assessing how they personally generate waste and looking for ways to reduce that amount. Every step counts, and we all play a part in conserving our natural resources, recycling everything we can, and combating climate change. 

      Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 23, 2019