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

  • Back-to-School Tools from CalRecycle


    School is out for summer, but not for much longer. In just a few short weeks, many of California’s 6.2 million students will head back to class equipped with notebooks, pencils, flash drives, and dozens more items on the average school supplies list. When you factor in other necessities to keep the state’s nearly 10,000 schools running smoothly—including 180 days of lunch service for those 6.2 million students—you can start to grasp the tremendous challenge of managing the districts’ discards.

    According to the latest Commercial Waste Characterization Study, California schools dispose of roughly 562,442 tons of waste each year. CalRecycle is working to help decrease those disposal numbers with free back-to-school tools that students, parents, and districts can use to save money and protect our natural resources.

    Tools for Schools

    Tools for Parents and Students

    These back-to-school tips can also help schools support California’s groundbreaking efforts to reduce our reliance on landfills, cut our greenhouse gas emissions, and achieve the highest and best use of all materials in California.


    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Jul 31, 2017

  • Fabric Flowers Sprout from Recycled Material

    My grandmother used to say necessity is the mother of invention, and I think she was right. Californians dispose of more material during times of abundance; when the economy is flush, our wallets open wide and we buy new things, wrapped in lots of packaging, and we throw out old things. Some of these old things still have a lot of life in them, especially if we get creative!

    I come from a pretty artsy family. And we’re not the type of people to run down to the craft store to buy everything we need. Instead, we prefer to scavenge local thrift stores, yard sales, and even each other’s craft closets to assemble the materials we need to create a project.

    Fabric flowers are en vogue again, especially for country chic weddings. So, when my friend got engaged, it was only natural that I dove into my mother’s and sister’s ribbon and lace collections to assemble the material I needed to create a set of bridesmaid tote bags with accent flowers.

    Back in my grandmother’s day, fabric flowers constructed of rolled ribbon or delicately folded muslin could transform everyday dresses into Sunday best or even wedding garments. New clothes were expensive and difficult to make, so textiles were repurposed over and over again. Now, fabric flower tutorials are just a YouTube video away. Since they require just a few inches of ribbon, you can easily transform scraps that are otherwise too short for wrapping packages or tying large bows.

    Bows can be crafted from more than just recycled ribbon and lace. Small scraps of burlap, leftover canvas strips from a sewing or paint project, and even an old satin bathrobe belt can be carefully sewn or glued into concentric rows of beautiful flower petals. I like to adorn the center of each blossom with a pearl from a broken necklace strand or a glitzy vintage earring or broach.


    If you can’t raid a relative’s or friend’s stash for craft materials, visit a thrift store where donated art supplies are given or resold to the public. Take the Free Utopian Projects (Free UP) movement, for example, which promotes sustainable art practices by supplying makers with materials. Free UP Oakland has a permanent storefront filled with a hodgepodge of crafty art supplies. Guests can take one free item per day and make a donation to purchase additional items.

    Oakland is also home to the East Bay Depot for Creative Use. Founded in the late 1970s by a group of Oakland Unified School District teachers, The Depot’s initial aim was to provide reusablesupplies to educators who were often paying out of pocket to stock their classrooms. They have grown a lot since their beginning and now divert over 200 tons of reusable material from landfills each year. 


    You don’t have to be an artist to help divert reusable textiles and art materials from landfills. Consider calling your local grade schools or university art department to see if they can use your materials. Just remember that one person’s trash may be another person’s treasure … or in this case, flower!


    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Jul 20, 2017

  • How to Host a Clothing Swap

    Reduce Your Waste and Look Chic Doing It


    Have you made a New Year’s resolution to clean out your closet or to change up your wardrobe? Maybe you received new clothes for the holidays and you’re trying to pare down. There are a number of reasons to reduce the amount of shirts, pants, accessories, and shoes in your possession – and you don’t want to just throw them out. After all, an estimated 1.2 million tons of textiles ended up in California landfills in 2014, and you don’t want to add to that. What’s the solution? A wardrobe swapping party! Follow these tips and you’ll turn heads, even without a runway.

    Send Invites

    A group of 10 to 15 people is reasonable to ensure you have enough garments and accessories but without risking chaos. Try to be conscious of people’s styles and sizes, but don’t exclude anyone because they might be preppy and plus-size or a punky petite – they might still find something that suits them. 


    Set Ground Rules

    Make it a point to list the rules in your invitation so everyone knows before they arrive, and make sure you give a friendly reminder once everyone is there. The point of the clothing swap is to have fun, save money, and reduce waste. Here are some rules to start:

    • Everyone takes a turn.
    • No fighting over items.
    • Everyone brings a certain amount of items and leaves with that amount.

    Be Clear

    Make sure everyone knows what is considered swappable. Everything must be washed, dried, and ironed, and nothing should be stained or torn. Don’t bring low-quality items just to get rid of them. 


    Get Organized

    Before everyone comes over, make sure you have plenty of room to display the items. Tables and racks would be ideal so everyone can see what’s up for grabs. If you don’t want to dig through a pile of what looks like dirty laundry, your friends probably don’t either. As people walk in, have them organize their items on the tables and/or racks. 


    A Perfect Fit

    Have a designated space as a fitting room so everyone can try on items if they choose. This can be a restroom, bedroom, or even a corner of the room with a partition for privacy. Don’t forget to include mirrors!


    Make It a Party

    You’re not just there to swap clothing—you’re there to have a good time with your friends. Encourage guests to bring snacks and drinks (but be careful not to spill on the clothes!). Play music and games after you trade items. For bonus eco-points, buy snacks in bulk and skip the disposable dishware. 


    Donate Leftovers

    Once everyone has taken a turn and their reusable shopping bags are full of new fashions, donate any of the leftovers to the Goodwill, Salvation Army, WEAVE, Dress for Success, or thrift shops. That way, whatever you and your fellow swappers don’t use will certainly be used by someone else.

    One last tip for the runway: Take fashion risks when you trade. You’re not spending any money, so this is the perfect time to try something you might not normally purchase in the store. 

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Jan 19, 2017