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

  • Back to School, So Cool!

    It’s the beginning of a new school year–see what these elementary school students learned about plastic pollution and what they decided to do about it! For tips on teaching kids about the environment, see CalRecycle’s Education and the Environment Initiative website.

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Sep 11, 2017

  • Nonprofit Group Works with CalRecycle to Promote Environmental Literacy


    CalRecycle’s Education and the Environment Initiative offers California K-12 teachers a free science and history-social science curriculum that uses the environment as a context for learning. Teachers throughout the state have incorporated the EEI curriculum into their classrooms and harvested content to enrich their science classes and field trips. Behind the scenes, this work is supported by a long-running partnership with Ten Strands, a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental literacy statewide.


    Over the past two years, Ten Strands worked with CalRecycle and the State Education and Environment Roundtable (SEER) to have the State Board of Education require textbook publishers to integrate a set of Environmental Principles and Concepts (EP&Cs) into future science and history-social science textbooks.  This will ensure that all students will explore how humans rely on and influence the natural world as part of their K-12 education. 

    Ten Strands is also involved in a project with the California Department of Education to implement Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s Blueprint for Environmental Literacy. Will Parish, the founder and president of Ten Strands, is the co-chair of a 30-person steering committee charged with this work, and Karen Cowe, Ten Strands’ CEO, is the project director. The blueprint will enable California to fully integrate the Environmental Principles and Concepts into K-12 instruction. 


    The Blueprint offers a plan to implement the EP&Cs and other environmental literacy strategies throughout the state, and Ten Strands is committed to seeing this plan implemented. Funded by a $3.1 million grant from the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and ongoing support from the Pisces Foundation and the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, the steering committee is working to strengthen existing education initiatives as well as build relationships between schools and science-based organizations. 

    Teacher training becomes an important step in seeing the EP&Cs taught in classrooms. Some teachers, especially those new to education, may feel daunted by teaching environmental literacy, including more science, so Ten Strands is working to gather together teachers, training providers, and non-formal science organizations like museums, aquariums, and university research centers. 


    “There are 6.2 million kids in California public schools, who attend 10,000 schools in about 1,000 districts,” Ten Strands CEO Karen Cowe said. “We have identified school districts as the unit of change in the system because of the way schools are funded and because of the state government’s focus on local control.”

    “In the short term, we are working with schools in different areas to model the ideas we want to see statewide,” Cowe said. 

    One group is focused on building relationships with school district leaders to better understand what they need and are responsible for in terms of curriculum and teacher training. The group has created a tool to help administrators and educators think through district-wide science curriculum implementation that includes environmental literacy. “When a district is writing their local plans for the next three years, we can help them with a tool kit that supports how to incorporate environmental literacy into their plan in a seamless and integrated way,” Cowe said.


    Ten Strands also collaborates with science and education organizations to support teachers and students throughout California. Among their key partnerships are UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of ScienceChangeScale of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas, TreePeople of Los Angeles, and the California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC).

    “We don’t want to only see certain kids in certain places understand the Environmental Principles and Concepts,” Cowe said. “We want to see environmental literacy flourish in every classroom across the state.”

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jul 10, 2017

  • Cities, Schools Aim to Become Zero Waste Communities

    What is “zero waste”? To some, it means reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill to zero. To others, zero waste is a process and a philosophy that involves a redesign of products and a redesign of consumption, so all material goods can be reused or recycled—or not needed at all. A number of local jurisdictions in California have implemented zero waste programs or passed resolutions related to zero waste.

    In 2014, Oceanside Unified School District (OUSD) became the first school district in the nation to commit to the goal of zero waste.

    The city of Oceanside provides recycling bins and educational materials to each campus, measures the amount of waste the school produces, and educates the school community on how to reduce waste and recycle as much as possible. By the end of the 2016/17 school year, the OUSD Zero Waste Initiative will have reached 13 of the OUSD’s 23 schools and saved the district nearly $100,000 in avoided landfill servicing fees. By the end of 2020, the city plans to implement its zero waste plan at all schools in the district.

    Kids Recycling At School

    Christa McAuliffe Elementary is one of the schools participating in the zero waste program.

    The students are trained to recognize different waste materials and to sort them accordingly for disposal or recycling. During lunchtime, a student “Green Team” helps sort lunch waste and teaches classmates about waste diversion and recycling. The school encourages parents to volunteer alongside their children, thereby spreading the impact of this educational program beyond the four walls of the school.

    We may or may not ever reach zero waste, but we continually work toward the goal. Today, a 90 percent reduction of waste being sent to landfills and incinerators is considered an achievable goal by such groups as the Zero Waste International Alliance and the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council. However, each succeeding increment toward zero requires systematic changes and improvements, and a significant, collaborative effort.

    If you’d like to learn more about zero waste and what California cities and counties are doing to become zero waste communities, visit our Zero Waste webpage

    Posted on In the Loop on May 13, 2017