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

  • Framework for the Future

    Education upgrade for California students  

    California just did something big. It didn’t get a lot of headlines, clicks, or television news coverage, but it will fundamentally transform the way we teach our 6.2 million students. The California Board of Education voted to include five key Environmental Principles and Concepts as part of the state’s new framework for how to teach History-Social Science standards.

    California’s Environmental Principles and Concepts, which state that we depend on, benefit from, and influence the earth’s natural systems, are the basic foundation for environmental literacy:

    • Principle I: People depend on natural systems.
    • Principle II: People influence natural systems.
    • Principle III: Natural systems change in ways that people benefit from and can influence.
    • Principle IV: There are no permanent or impermeable boundaries that prevent matter from flowing between systems.
    • Principle V: Decisions affecting resources and natural systems are complex and involve many factors.

    In the coming weeks, CalRecycle’s Office of Education and the Environment will continue working with the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission and nonprofit partners like Ten Strands to make sure these key concepts are included in the updated Next Generation Science Standards framework, which is set for final approval this fall.

    As a father, former teacher, and head of CalRecycle’s Office of Environmental Education, I’d like to explain how these principles and concepts will benefit our children and why formal environmental education is an asset to California and its students.

    For me, few things in life are more special than witnessing the moment a complex concept finally clicks in the mind of a child. By incorporating these fundamental truths into our educational framework, the environment becomes an integrating context for all sorts of learning. Students are immediately more engaged because the subject matter is more relevant to their lives. Instead of viewing the California Gold Rush as an isolated history lesson with dates, facts, and figures to memorize, teachers can help students think more holistically about a series of interconnected questions: What was the environmental impact of the 1849 population boom? Which natural resources did pioneers consume? How did hydraulic mining and water diversion help shape modern-day California?

    When we begin teaching and learning through this environmental lens, lessons in science and history-social science become grounded in real-world issues we’re confronting now about water, wildfires, and the impacts of climate change to California’s way of life. This important shift in thinking better prepares our students to become 21st century problem solvers who can make informed decisions as consumers, voters, entrepreneurs, teachers, and policy makers.

    CalRecycle is proud to see these Environmental Principles and Concepts integrated in the newly approved History-Social Science framework, and we look forward to their inclusion in the Science framework as well. By next year, we should begin seeing these changes reflected in early textbook drafts.

    The Office of Education and the Environment will continue to work with teachers across the state to support the implementation of these key concepts as part of their instruction. Together, we will help ensure all California students have access to the information, tools, and experiences to strengthen environmental literacy throughout the state.

    Bryan Ehlers

    Bryan Ehlers is CalRecycle’s assistant director for education and environmental affairs. He is responsible for overseeing implementation of California’s landmark Education and the Environment Initiative curriculum, including coordination with local, state, and federal agencies, and development of public-private partnerships.

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Sep 1, 2016

  • Schools: They Recycle! They Score!

    Students! Teachers! PTA members!

    If you’re in California, we know you’re already recycling at your school, and you’re probably starting, or considering, adding organic materials to your recycling program. (We know because these efforts are required by law.) Why not try to make your recycling program the best? Sign up for Keep America Beautiful’s Recycle-Bowl competition and see how you stack up!

    Keep America Beautiful’s Recycle-Bowl webpages show you how to register, how to promote your efforts and increase support, how to track your recyclables, and how to report your data for contest scoring.

    Registration is already open, but you’ll have time to talk to school administrators after the new year starts because the deadline to join is October 14. Don’t wait too long though: The four-week competition starts October 17 and ends on America Recycles Day, November 15.

    Posted on In the Loop by CalRecycle Staff on Aug 14, 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