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

  • Introducing CalRecycle’s Zero Waste Webpages

    CalRecycle’s zero waste team has added content to our Zero Waste webpage just as the announcement of the rebranding of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council’s certification to the new TRUE Zero Waste Certification occurs. TRUE stands for “Total Resource Use and Efficiency” and the rating system is now administered by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI) and housed under the U.S. Green Business Council (USGBC).

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    Businesses participating in the Zero Waste Certification program strive to divert 90 percent of their overall waste from landfill and incineration.

    CalRecycle’s Zero Waste Businesses webpage has new content designed for businesses striving for zero waste, including case studies and information about various certification programs.

    The Grass Roots Recycling Network (GRRN) describes zero waste as “a goal, a process, a way of thinking that profoundly changes the approach to resources and production. Not only is zero waste about recycling and diversion from landfills, it also restructures production and distribution systems to prevent waste from being manufactured in the first place.”

    “A zero waste system enables communities to not only protect the environment, but uncover economic opportunities,” says Stephanie Barger, director of market development for Zero Waste Programs with TRUE. “It reduces costs and improves efficiency, and by championing a zero waste economy, we’re helping transform the way we do business.”

    In 2013, CalRecycle showed its support for the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (now TRUE) by becoming a founding member. CalRecycle recognized that the Zero Waste Certification for businesses supports the goals of AB 341 to increase the state’s rate of recycling, composting and source reduction to 75 percent. Through this partnership, CalRecycle employees have had access to zero waste workshops, webinars, and conferences and have had opportunities to engage with like-minded individuals and organizations. CalRecycle has compiled a resources webpagehighlighting other zero waste organizations and educational programs.

    Are you wondering if your city or county has a zero waste policy or program? Visit the Zero Waste Communities webpage for a list and find other tools for local governments as well.

    To read more about the new partnership that administers the TRUE Zero Waste Certification system, please see the U.S. Green Business Council’s TRUE announcement.

    —Angela Vincent

    Posted on In the Loop by Angela Vincent on Nov 2, 2017

  • “Trash” to Cash

    The perks of a community yard sale

    While some people are sleeping in on weekends, others are scouring yard sales. And while treasure hunting for that soon-to-be upcycled item might be fun, organizing a yard sale is another story.

    For a higher degree of difficulty and even better environmental returns, try a neighborhood yard sale! Sure, it sounds like a logistics nightmare, but real estate agent KC Schuft, who lives in the southeast Sacramento neighborhood of Colonial Heights, has it down to a science. You can use her system, too!

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    Though the annual Colonial Heights sale has been going on for years, KC picked up the responsibility of organizing just a few years ago. She starts two months in advance by posting a “save the date” on social media platforms like Nextdoor. Then she follows up by hand-delivering flyers to the 700 homes in the area, inviting households to participate. An RSVP gets participants on the yard sale map and their special items promoted on Facebook and Craigslist. On the first day of the weekend event, KC sets up a table at the neighborhood main entrance with signs and maps for shoppers. 

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    When I attended the sale, I immediately got the neighborly vibe. Friends of mine who bought a house in this neighborhood a year ago are the new kids on the block, and they are already well loved. Multiple friends who did not live in the community came out to see them, hang out, eat doughnuts, and of course, buy items and check out the other yard sales. I think friends coming to visit and eat doughnuts was my favorite part. 

    While it’s tough to say how much was spared from the landfill since items weren’t inventoried, I know at least two purses, a backpack, a skein of purple yarn, and a honey jar were saved from the weekly trash pickup, because they went home with me. All those items are being put to good use (or should I say, reuse!) for only a fraction of the price I would have paid in a store. My uncle is enjoying the ’90s R&B records and ceramic Christmas items he bought for $10.

    My friend suggested unsold items be donated to a local charity. She offered her home as a collection point at the end of the sale, and neighbors brought unsold items to her house where the charity picked them up the next day—undoubtedly preventing more things from ending up at the dump while also raising money for those in need.

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    While keeping material out of landfills might not have been on most residents’ minds, their annual neighborhood yard sale helps build their community while protecting the environment, suburbia-style.

    Posted on In the Loop by TC Clark on Oct 26, 2017

  • Mixing It Up To Become More Sustainable


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    While there are many paths toward sustainability, the best path for me has not always been clear. In the quest for the perfect sustainable item, I have collected enough reusable containers, fabric grocery bags, and reusable water bottles to fill a cupboard to bursting. In an effort to be more sustainable, I inadvertently become a bigger consumer.

    During a recent move, I decided to overhaul my home in the spirit of organizing guru Marie Kondo. Her gentle methods of culling useless items from my life have led me into a greater revelation of sustainability: buying less, appreciating more.

    Minimalists and hyper-organizers alike are fans of Kondo’s gospel, and she makes a compelling link between the stuff we accumulate and the quality of our life. Reducing the amount of waste we generate in the first place, referred to as source reduction or waste prevention, is an integral part of a sustainable lifestyle.  Kondo challenges her followers to examine their relationship to the objects they buy; her unique approach to reducing the amount of stuff we accumulate—not her method of folding shirts or organizing rooms by theme—is what makes her a guru.

    To recycle and reuse discarded materials is very beneficial to our pocketbooks and to our surrounding environment and economy.  However, those activities still involved accumulation of materials and products that became unneeded and had to be effectively managed in order to avoid needless disposal. Source reduction – preventing the generation of waste or production of wasteful materials – is the highest order of sustainability.  It’s the cornerstone of a sustainable lifestyle.

    Last year, Californians generated 42.7 million tons of material that went to disposal. That’s an average of 6 pounds per person per day, or more than one ton of solid waste for every Californian per year.

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    Kondo’s philosophy is that every object we own should bring us joy, either because it adds aesthetic beauty to our life or because the object serves our purpose really well.

    I discovered during my recent move that I own 10 mixing bowls, but I only really love 3 mismatched bowls that are perfect for popcorn, mixing batters, and marinating meat. The rest sit untouched in my cupboard. My three mismatched bowls suit my needs better, and their perfect functionality brings me joy.

    The other seven mixing bowls will not end up in a landfill just yet. They’ll go to good homes: My sister needs a nice, matching set, and the rest will be donated to a good thrift store.

    Kondo would advise that it’s important to carefully consider new purchases until you find something you truly love; avoid buying placeholder items that will create more waste in the long run. I would like to upgrade my dishes to a complete set of matching plates and bowls. I could pop into a discount store and buy a cheap set of matching dishes, but it would just be a placeholder for the (more expensive) set I really want and love. If I went that route, I would end up with two sets of dishes I don’t love that I would eventually have to take to the thrift store.

    As I continue unpacking my moving boxes, I’m taking a hard look at the stuff I own as well as the list of items I think I need in my new place. Changing my relationship to things is a hard process, but it will lead to lasting change in my life. I want to reduce my impact on our planet, and I’m choosing to do it one mixing bowl at a time.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Sep 7, 2017