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

  • Baseball Teams Make a Play for Less Waste

    It’s summertime, the kids are out of school, and families are packing up and heading to the ballpark for a baseball game.

    When you get to the game, it’s pretty much eating time. Sure, watching batters hit and pitchers pitch may be fun, but, come on, the little ones love going because they’re eating a hot dog, ice cream, or cotton candy. Heck, it’s tempting to get even more food during the seventh-inning stretch while hearing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, including this beauty from the lyrics: “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack.” 

    tray of ballpark food -- hotdog, chips, soft drink

    But, recently, after watching a game with the family, I noticed something: trash underneath the seats—a lot of it.

    So, how much garbage is generated during a baseball game? Obviously, it depends on how many fans attend. But in 2010, the Los Angeles Daily News reported that 3.11 tons of trash were produced during a home game at Dodger Stadium. That’s quite a bit going to the landfill.

    Some major league and minor league teams are trying to change that. Those teams have created environmentally focused programs to promote recycling and composting, as well as overall sustainability. As part of the San Francisco Giants’ “Green Initiative,” the organization recycles or composts items like cans, bottles, plastic cups, cardboard, paper, wood pallets, electronic components, light bulbs, batteries, cooking grease, food waste, and grass clippings. The Giants claim 95.08 percent of the waste at their ballpark in 2016 was diverted from the landfill through their recycling and composting program.

    The San Diego Padres also have a recycling and waste diversion program. They have been promoting digital ticketing instead of paper tickets to fans while serving ballpark food with service trays and packaging made of recycled materials and biodegradable materials. Plastic drinking straws have also been replaced with paper straws.

    These programs only work if fans are conscientious about it. In other words, don’t just throw trash underneath the seats, but make an effort to find a garbage, recycling, or compost bin and dump it there. You can even collect your peanut shells and compost them yourself. (Here’s a recent blog about how to start composting.)

    We can all have fun watching the game, eating Cracker Jack and being mindful of our environment at the same time. That’s a home run in my scorebook. 

    Posted on In the Loop by Syd Fong on Jun 20, 2019

  • It's Easy Eating Green

    A Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

    It's Easy Eating Green: A Beginner's Guide to a Plant-Based Diet

    If you’ve been following any of my previous blogs, you already know I’ve been a lifelong environmentalist. From my stance on single-use straws and my drought-resistant landscape to my career at CalRecycle, I am a die-hard tree hugger!

    One subject I have not touched on yet is the environmental benefits of a plant-based diet. Although for me, it really had nothing to do with the environment (since there was little information about that back in the early '90s). It mostly had to do with my love of animals. If you read my straw blog, you’ll remember my dad taking me to fast food joints and refusing single-use plastic straws. It was in that same drive-through I learned that chicken nuggets came from chickens and burgers came from cows. Since then I have been conscious about the use of animal products, and the environmental advantages of not consuming meat were just a bonus.

    Reducing animal husbandry for food production can decrease carbon emissions, reduce meat and seafood waste byproducts, and significantly lower global fresh water use. Plus, eating more fruit and veggies is beneficial for your health! Here’s a primer on different types of less-meat diets. It’s a good idea to speak to a doctor or nutritionist before making a drastic change.

    Flexitarian

    Flexitarian: Being flexible with the amount of meat-free meals you eat daily or weekly

    As the name implies, flexitarians are flexible with the number of meat-free meals they choose to eat per week. It can be challenging to about-face your diet, so a flexitarian diet is a great way to slowly reduce your meat intake and replace it with plant-based proteins like legumes. When I became a vegetarian, it was a bit of an adjustment for my family members—the flexitarian diet allows you and your family to adjust without feeling like you’re being deprived of your favorite foods. It’s a great compromise for you and the planet.

    Vegetarian

    Vegetarian: Eating plant-based foods in addition to dairy, bread, and eggs

    I’d classify this as the intermediate diet—not too stringent, but not super-easy, either. This is where I’ve been for the past 23 years, and it works just fine for me. I eat mostly fruit, veggies, breads, dairy, and some meat substitutes like vegan “sausage” made from potatoes, apples, and spices. And because I live in California, it’s very easy to find multiple dishes at restaurants if I choose to eat out. If you are new to vegetarianism and are planning to eat at a new restaurant, always check the menu ahead of time to make sure you’re not caught off guard by a meat-filled menu. Additionally, if I ever get an order that includes meat by accident, I pick it off and give it to a friend or family member. There’s no use in sending it back or throwing it away—that’s just more waste!

    Vegan

    Vegan: Abstaining from eating or using any products produced by animals

    Personally, I find this diet too strict, but if it works, more power to you! Vegans exclude all animal products from their life—that means no animal byproduct foods or animal products like leather. It’s been hailed as the most eco-friendly and natural diet because no animals are raised, slaughtered, or eaten. However, other vegan products could be considered harmful to the planet, such as pleather clothing and accessories made from petroleum-based materials. And often “fake” animal product fashion doesn’t last as long as real leather, creating more waste. It may be worth considering using animal products when the alternative would be more harmful to the planet. (We never said the eco-warrior life was easy!)

    Not quite ready to give up your favorite burger joint? Ease into it with Meatless Mondays or find a method that works best for you. Protecting the environment is not a perfectly straight line—it’s a journey of finding what works for your lifestyle and the planet alike. As the saying goes, “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.” That works for other eco-friendly acts, too!

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jun 13, 2019

  • Planet Protecting-Prom: Dance the Night Away Eco-Guilt-Free

    Sandy and Danny dancing in the movie Grease

    Corsages and cummerbunds mark prom season just before the end of the school year. Soon students will be shopping for dresses, tuxes, and limos, but at what cost to the environment? If you’re a freshman to the world of sustainability, take note of these tips for a planet-protecting prom.

    Various prom dresses

    Give Fast Fashion the Slip

    It can be difficult to avoid those inexpensive clothing items when you or your teenager are fashion-forward on a budget. But, armed with the knowledge that the fashion industry (especially fast fashion) is one of the main contributors to landfill waste, pollution, and unfair labor practices, it might be a little easier to give up those bargain garments. Instead, try purchasing something secondhand. Just because it was previously owned, that does not mean it is cheap, tacky, or unsophisticated. In fact, most prom dresses are only worn once, so it’s likely any “used” dress will be in excellent condition—not to mention less expensive. You can also get creative and refashion a secondhand item that has potential. Don’t have enough room in your closet or not as creative as you’d like to be? Find a dress rental company in your area—tuxes are rented, so why can’t a dress be? Another option can be a formal clothing exchange between friends, an exchange program, or even your library—yes, your library! There are also plenty of places to donate your dress when you’re done with it.

    Olive Oyl applying makeup

    Makeover Your Cosmetic Bag

    Looking your best doesn’t stop at your outfit, and it shouldn’t come at the expense of the planet. Whether you or your teen wears makeup or simple moisturizer, applies lots of hair product or just needs a razor to get rid of unwanted stubble, there is an earth-friendly option for everyone. Start by asking what cosmetics and beauty accessories are made of—plastic or natural ingredients? Biodegradable or single-use? What about excess packaging? Look for zero-waste companies, or DIY your cosmetics.

    Limo driving to dance

    Limopool

    If you or your teen can afford to rent a limo, make sure to get as many passengers as possible. This will help offset the carbon emissions created by driving multiple cars, and it can also help bring down the cost of the rental. If a limo isn’t in the cards, try regular carpooling or even a pedicab if the venue is nearby. No one expects anyone to ride their bike in their formals, but a pedicab or even a horse-drawn carriage can be a fun and eco-friendly option if the dance is nearby.

    Peter Parker handing a corsage to his date

    Corsage Compost

    After the night is over, the formal footwear is kicked off and it’s time to hit the hay, don’t toss your boutoniere or corsage in the trash. If you don’t plan on hanging on to your flowers as a keepsake, compost it or throw it in your yard waste bin minus the ribbons, pins, and other decorations—you can always reuse those, but they don’t belong in the pile with other organic waste.

    Now get out there and promenade that planet-protecting way, knowing you did the right thing for future prom-goers!

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Apr 8, 2019