A New Look is Coming to WasteFreeSD

There is some exciting news in store for I Love A Clean San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database, WasteFreeSD.org. For those who have not visited the site, WasteFreeSD.org is an online database full of recycling resources and utilizes a search bar to generate results that are organized by priority and then by proximity to your zip code. Residents and businesses in San Diego County have instant recycling information at their fingertips 24/7.

WFSD before

Currently, WasteFreeSD.org provides recycling information, but more resources are coming soon!

So what’s the exciting news you ask? WasteFreeSD.org is getting a much needed makeover! The database is about 10 years old and although we have grown to love it for the services it provides, the functionality of the website needed an upgrade. In addition to the functionality of the website, the message had to take an innovative turn as well. WasteFreeSD.org has been San Diego County’s recycling database, the newly redesigned site is going to be a zero waste database. That’s huge! That means that when you complete a search for more information about a certain item, options to Reduce, Repurpose, Repair, Donate, and Recycle will populate. As San Diego County strives to send less to the landfill, we’re excited  to help local residents and businesses do their part through WasteFreeSD.org.

Newly redesigned features to WasteFreeSD.org include:

  • User friendly search bar
  • Results follow the zero waste hierarchy: Repair, Repurpose, Donate, Recycle, Dispose
  • Showcases more of I Love A Clean San Diego’s blogs
  • RepairSD.org will be housed under one website (no need for two separate searches!)
WFSD after

Sneak peek at the newly redesigned WasteFreeSD.org!!

The newly designed WasteFreeSD will be a more interactive and overall easier for San Diegans to use and conserve resources. The main page will highlight helpful articles, blogs, and infographics. Most importantly it will highlight our partners who help keep San Diego looking beautiful! One of our first featured spots will be SDG&E’s Marketplace, an interactive search tool that helps you find energy efficient products. SDG&E’s Marketplace allows for residents and businesses to shop around for products that are energy efficient, qualify for rebates, and are cost effective. WasteFreeSD will be released late-August but users can visit SDG&E’s Marketplace now!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news about WasteFreeSD.orgJoin us as San Diego leads the way to truly waste-free landfills!

How to love the beach & its ecosystems

Today’s blog comes from one of our Education Specialists, Becca! When she’s not in the office or a classroom, you’ll most likely find her at the beach!photo 4

“People protect what they love” ~Jacques Cousteau

Sometimes we chose to live by the ocean, but lack understanding of it. When we understand what we are living next to, we can help take care of it. This blog is for beach goers who admire the ocean but do not yet completely understand it.

What is all of this stuff lying out on the sand? What are those holes I see in the sand when the wave returns to the ocean? What is that smell on the beach?12513850_2611838140855_3439960453982877308_o

What is algae? Algae is a living organism that photosynthesizes like a plant. The difference between the two is that plants produce flowers and algae does not. For those of you that have not yet snorkeled or dived in a kelp forest, it is something worth mentioning. Kelp is one of the most important producers off the coast of California. What is it producing? Oxygen for all air breathers, homes for animals, and food for animals like urchins. It is also one of the many species of algae you will find washed up along the beach.

Sand also covers our beaches and thanks to this resource, we have interesting animals living in the sand called Pacific Mole Crabs. Pacific Mole Crabs are filter feeders; they eat by waving around their secondary antennae in the water. They don’t have claws, so don’t worry about those when you hold them! These creatures burrow through the sand and act as an indication of the health of the ecosystem. Their presence reassures us that we have healthy beaches.  When you next see bubbles in the sand after the wave returns the ocean, dig down to find some Pacific Mole Crabs.

How about the smell of the sea breeze? The ocean’s smell is a combination of a few elements. If it were a recipe, it would look a little something like this:

  • Bromophenols: Comes from fish, oysters, shrimp, crabs, and oysters as a result of their diet which includes algae, worms, etc.
  • Dimethyl sulfide (DMS): The clammy or sulfur smell comes from bacteria that eat phytoplankton.
  • Dictyopterenes: Pheromones of algae, as most would guess, smells like dried seaweed.

Next time you walk down to the beach, feel free to explore! The more you about the beach and its ecosystems, you’re bound to discover whole different world!

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Sources: http://www.popsci.com/seasmells – ocean smells

Closing the Loop on Food & Plastics

An important conversation is buzzing right now locally and nationally about food waste. This past April a mandatory organics recycling law went into effect in California, requiring businesses generating 8 cubic yards of organic waste per week to divert it from the landfill. The nationwide campaign supported by the Ad Council is a call to action to end the 300 lbs. of food the average person tosses away each year. But what about the hard plastics most of this food is packaged in?

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Plastic free grocery shopping.

Unfortunately, plastics and food go hand in hand. Walk down any grocery store aisle and most food is accompanied with some form of plastic. Some plastics take the form of a container to hold butter or coffee grounds; others might be the tags keeping bread bags closed. The concept of the zero-waste grocery store is just beginning to make strides here in the United States. Here are some different ways to apply the zero waste hierarchy to the plastics that might accompany the food you buy.

Reduce:

One of the simplest steps to closing the loop with food products is purchasing in bulk or at your local farmer’s market. I love to bring my own cloth bags and the farmers market is a great way to avoid the plastic containers that a lot of produce comes in.

Reuse:

Small plastic containers that hold candies like tic-tacs can be reused to hold spices to take camping. K-cups can even be used as starts for seedlings! Try using plastic bread tags as identifiers for different keys or a holder for hair ties.

Repurposed TicTac Containers via pinterest

Credit: skruben.blogspot.com

 Repurpose:

Take on a small art project and repurpose that plastic container into something useful! I decided to turn a container that once held oats into one that holds plastic trash bags.

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Repurposed oatmeal container that now holds trash bags. I had fun decorating the outside of it!

 Recycle:

Recycle when you can! Hard, rigid plastic containers can be placed in your blue bin, as well as items in tetra-pak containers like almond milk.

If you are curious about other plastics that can be recycled or how you can take steps to reduce your food waste footprint, visit WasteFreeSD.org.

Can recycle: milk cartons, juice boxes, and broth boxes

Recyclable: milk cartons, juice boxes, and broth boxes

 

Morning After Mess at Belmont Park

Ah, the Fourth of July in San Diego. What else screams “holiday weekend” besides the smell of sunscreen, the countless beach umbrellas, and the blur of red, white, and blue colors donned by tourists and city natives on the beach? So many people enjoy the beaches in our beautiful city. With the influx of people on our beaches, unfortunately, comes litter. Thanks to an incredible team of volunteers, it didn’t stay long. 

Our shoreline is precious to us here in San Diego, so much so that Surfrider dedicated a day to restore them after the weekend holiday rush. This year marks the 8th anniversary of the Morning After Mess cleanup and I Love A Clean San Diego was more than happy to lead a site at Mission Beach Belmont Park, while CoastKeeper and Surfrider hosted three other locations in San Diego. In total, the cleanup prevented 1,138 pounds of trash and debris from making its way in the ocean after the holiday weekend!

From the 138 volunteers that participated Tuesday morning at our site, 50 lucky volunteers who arrived early received an awesome hat with the “Morning After Mess” logo. Volunteers walking throughout the beach were easy to spot with the bright red, white, and blue, fit for American pride.

The first 50 volunteers received a small thank you from our friends and event coordinators, Surfrider San Diego!

Before the cleanup, Clean Beach Coalition bins, sponsored by many local organizations and vendors such as Think Blue San Diego, FreePB.org, The Local,and PB Shore Club, were placed strategically to help eliminate trash from collecting on the beach and in the bay. Some volunteers expressed their appreciation and happiness when seeing the bins filled up with trash and items that would ordinarily be left behind in the sand. 

It’s hard to miss these Clean Beach Coalition bins – each one is the size of a twin mattress!

Many of the bins and trash bags were filled with items like empty food containers, used plates, and cups, and even larger items like grills, chairs, and broken boogie boards. 

Better in the bins than in the sand.

Volunteers kept track of the amount of waste they collected: cigarette butts, Styrofoam pieces, plastic bags, and any unusual items they found. Throughout the morning, volunteers found items like shoes, sunglasses, backpacks, clothes, and a few stranger items, like a cheese sandwich in a Ziploc bag left uneaten, metal scissors, and action figure parts.

Within just three hours , our volunteers collected over 400 lbs. of trash, 53 plastic bags and over 3,000 cigarette butts just at Mission Beach.

Our volunteers are dedicated to keeping San Diego and our oceans clean. If you are inspired to take action in your local community, check out our upcoming events or Adopt-A-Beach program to get involved! 

Family, friends, coworkers, neighbors – Let’s keep San Diego clean, together! Get involved at CleanSD.org!

Save the Forgotten Food

One of the best ways to fight food waste is to re-think the food that we buy in comparison to the food that we actually use. We’ve all had that feeling of disappointment while going through our refrigerator only to find hidden fruits and veggies that turned moldy because they were shoved  into the back of the fridge. To understand why this is problematic, check out this short video produced by Ad Council.

The Ad Council provides helpful tips on the best ways to prevent food waste in your home including rethinking your shopping guidelines and understanding the truth behind the dates on the food we buy! Here are some of our favorite food saving tips for our wallets and the environment!

Before you head out of the grocery store, start by planning your grocery list.  Here is an example made specifically for creating zero food waste. One of the best things you can do is to only buy enough fresh food for the upcoming week.

Here are some more tips on meal planning to help make grocery store lists easier to plan:

mEAL

  1. Take a few moments and figure out exactly how many meals you need to prepare.
  2. Consider the work load of the week to decide the complexity of meals you can make.
  3. Incorporate seasonal produce.
  4. Track your food consumption weekly to get a more accurate idea of how much food you need.
  5. Food expiration dates are only suggestions; they refer to the manufacturer’s estimate of when the food quality will be at its best and has less to do with actual food safety.
  6. Use a recipe generator to use up odds and ends left in your kitchen

Once you’re at the store, grab your reusable bags, and your shopping list. Our Marketing Manager, Sarah, keeps her grocery list on her phone because handwritten notes are easily forgotten or lost.

Also, while you’re scoping out the produce, choose the “ugly” fruits and veggies. Odd shapes and superficial imperfections do not affect the taste or health benefits of the produce at all!

There are many things you can do here in San Diego reduce food waste – limit portion sizes, plan grocery lists, or volunteer at a food bank such as San Diego Food System Alliance, and San Diego Food Bank. Use any of these resources as a launching pad for your path to creating less food waste!

Highlights from our Zero Waste Summit

Our education team just celebrated the end of our first series of community workshops! by hosting a Zero Waste Summit!

The Zero Waste Summit, a culmination of our Sustainable Living Series, brought together participants from throughout San Diego County to learn the ins and outs of going zero waste. At the Summit, participants explored Ocean Knoll Farm, while exchanging ideas for incorporating zero waste practices into their everyday lives. With help from The City of Encinitas, Jimbo’s, the Solana Center, Healthy Day Partners, and ILACSD, workshop goers went home with zero waste toolkits to jumpstart a more eco-conscious lifestyle. Take a closer look at how the event unfolded!

Participants were given the opportunity to meander through Ocean Knoll Farm, which provides fresh produce for local Encinitas school lunches, and check out the incredible work of Healthy Day Partners.

Thank you to Healthy Day Partners for providing an incredible space for our workshops at Ocean Knoll Farm!

Workshop goers participated in a “Swap & Shop” where they could exchange used items including books, toys, clothing, and movies. Learn how to host a “Swap & Shop” party with your family and friends!

Host a swap & shop at your office or your next get together with friends and family!

Participants discussed tips and tricks for going zero waste with experts from The City of Encinitas, Healthy Day Partners, ILACSD, The Solana Center, and Jimbo’s. Each booth focused on a specific zero waste topic including recipes for natural cleaners, the importance and simplicity of at-home composting, the personal and environmental benefits of purchasing local and organic produce, and were provided reusable containers and bags for restaurant left-overs and grocery shopping.

At the summit, participants visited our partner booths to get zero waste tips, tricks and giveaways!

The speaker panel that included representatives from The City of Encinitas, EDCO, Snooze Eatery, and Kitchens for Good, provided participants with valuable information, advice, and personal experiences to build the foundation for starting a zero waste lifestyle.

Participants enjoyed letting their creativity shine as they repurposed glass bottles into decorative vases and hummingbird feeders.

Repurposing is a great way to keep everyday items out of the landfill. Wine bottles become decor, or an old toy could become a planter.

Workshop goers were given the opportunity to enter a free raffle where they had the chance to win compost bins and a variety of reusable items including reusable produce bags, travel utensils, water bottles, metal straws, coffee thermoses, and more!

All of our participants walked away with at least one new tool to start on their way to zero waste!

A huge thank you goes out to all of our participants and partners who made the Sustainable Living Series such a success!

To participate in an upcoming workshop or cleanup, visit CleanSD.org!

The best of our newest adoptable site, Dixon Lake

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ILACSD’s Admin Assistant, Erika, took a weekend hike to explore one of our newest adoptable sites in Escondido.

This past Monday was Summer Solstice, which marks the longest day of the year and the official onset of summer! With the longer days, it’s the perfect time to get out and explore the endless hiking trails around San Diego County. This weekend I did just that and took a trip to Dixon Lake, one of I Love A Clean San Diego’s newest inland adoptable sites in North County.

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The perfect spot for a  picnic. For easy cleanup, choose reusable utensils and pack snacks in tupperware instead of sandwich bags that can get blown into the lake.

When I first walked through the ranger station, I was pleasantly surprised to see several covered and uncovered picnic areas. Below is one of the areas I found, which I will definitely be coming back to for a summer picnic! I spotted several trash cans in the area, but whenever there aren’t any, the most important thing to remember is the principal of pack it in, pack it out. By making sure that you carry out all the trash that you brought into the open space or park, you can easily help to reduce litter at the source.

Walking past the picnic tables, I crossed a little bridge which led to the 2.1 mile trail that follows the edge of the lake. The trail was mostly flat and perfect for hikers of all ages.  027

About half a mile into the trail there was the opportunity to turn onto a bridge covered in reed grass. My curiosity got the best of me, so I veered off the path and crossed the bridge, and I’m so glad I did!

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The bridge led to a dock right on the water, providing a beautiful view of the entire surrounding area. I took a few moments at this spot to enjoy the morning tranquility of the lake.

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Behind me, there was a fisherman enjoying some early morning fishing off the end of the dock. One more of the activities you can take advantage of at the lake!

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Dixon Lake is also a great fishing spot for locals!

On the way back to the parking lot I decided to take the service road, which runs several feet above the trail. I was a little disappointed to stumble across some trash in the middle of the road. With just a few feet of separation between the road and the lake, the trash could easily end up in the water within a matter of seconds. Thinking back to the beautiful views from the dock, I know I would not want that view ruined by a fast food bag and coffee cup floating in the water.

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Unfortunately, plastic bags, pet waste as well as food wrappers and bottles are commonly found along the trails.

Interested in keeping Dixon Lake clean? Visit AdoptSD.org to learn more and to schedule your own cleanups! We provide a free educational presentation to kick off your first cleanup, and if you complete three cleanups over the course of a year, you can apply to have your group’s name posted on a sign on site. 021

Whether it’s your favorite, beach, canyon or park, let’s keep San Diego clean, together. Find out how you can get involved in a program that fits your schedule at CleanSD.org!

The moment that inspired Leila to create less waste

“We generate enough trash to fill Qualcomm Stadium each year…”

The words spoken by my Conservation Science and Policy professor sent an unsettling feeling straight to the pit of my stomach. That is an insane amount of trash. Buried right here in the City? No way. Yet, there I was sitting in a desk learning about waste management policies and how they impact our environment. I learned that the Miramar Landfill is San Diego’s only active landfill. San Diego’s trash is buried in a site that opened in 1959 and is projected to close between 2020 – 2025! That got me thinking. Where will the trash go? How does that much even exist here in the City? Enough to fill Qualcomm? Is recycling not enough to reduce landfill input?

Miramar Landfill KPBS

photo credit: KPBS; Katie Orr

 All of these questions echoed in my head when I found myself sitting in a bus on a field trip, in the middle of the current open “pit” at the Miramar Landfill. There I was in a crater of trash, an eyesore of waste piled multiple feet high. The view unearthed the ugly truth that waste is a huge issue that is usually out of site, out of mind. Sitting in the middle of the trash I had the same unsettling feeling and I felt compelled to act.

bench

Toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt cups and benches constructed out of milk jugs serve as proof that we can do more with our resources.

From that day on I decided to embrace the zero waste lifestyle. I started by reflecting on the trash I produced and looking into organizations that were helping to combat the waste issues in San Diego. Research led me to stumble upon I Love A Clean San Diego. I was inspired by the cleanups and the passion for sustainability the organization embodied. I became more impressed when I found WasteFreeSD.org and how it is a resource for residents like me who want to divert their waste in an environmentally friendly manner.

WhatToRecycleMagnet

Start with the basics!

I feel fortunate to now be a part of the team! Assisting the Call Center allows me to direct residents to proper disposal facilities, help keep hazardous waste out of the landfill, and provide repair and reuse options to those who are also waste conscious. My journey with zero waste all started with the pit, both literally and figuratively. Think back to a time that really impacted you, maybe you acted on it, maybe you didn’t but the impact it had is still just as important. Grasp that feeling; it can change your life and the planet’s.

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Leila (far left) and two of our interns checking out cleanup supplies at our annual Creek to Bay Cleanup!

Visit CleanSD.org to learn how you can get involved in making a lasting impact on our environment!

4 Easy Steps to a Healthier Ocean

Happy World Ocean’s Day! Today we celebrate the ocean for the joy it brings us, the food it provides us, and the oxygen it supplies us. The mysterious and vast ocean with its other-worldly creatures captivates young and old alike. From nudibranchs and sea hares to sharks and rays, the ocean holds amazingly unique creatures. Unfortunately, many are threatened by human actions that negatively impact their habitats. Therefore, today must also be a call to action to protect these organisms and preserve our ocean!

coral

Ocean acidification threatens ocean ecosystems that include oysters, reefs, and the foundation of several food chains, plankton.

Ocean acidification is one way in which humans are driving drastic changes in the ocean. Ocean acidification is the alteration of ocean chemistry as a result of increased carbon absorption, which is a direct effect of increased carbon emissions. One serious consequence of ocean acidification is that it becomes very difficult for certain organisms, such as corals, oysters, and even plankton, to both build and maintain the calcium carbonate structure that they depend upon, such as shells and reefs. This can negatively impact the organism itself, as well as entire ocean ecosystems.

coral and sea urchins

Coral and sea urchins are also affected by ocean acidification.

Thankfully, we can control how much carbon we each emit into the atmosphere. Follow these four easy steps to reduce your carbon emissions.

Travel by foot, bike or trolley more often to reduce your carbon footprint!

riding bike

Environmental Education Specialist, Grace enjoying one of San Diego’s many bike trails.

  1. Spend less time in your car. This could mean riding your bike, walking, taking public transportation, or carpooling. The average car produces about 19.6 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon. Reducing your need to fuel up helps to lessen your impact on the environment and your wallet all at once.
  2. Lower your electricity bill. This doesn’t just mean turning off lights, but can include simple and easy practices such as unplugging appliances when they aren’t in use, utilizing energy saving light bulbs, and enabling the sleep function on your computer.
  3. Buy local. Products have less distance to travel when you choose to buy locally made and grown products, reducing the amount of energy used to transport the goods.
  4. Practice the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Go even one step further and purchase items made out of recycled material. Less energy will go towards manufacturing new products and finding natural resources to make them. Don’t know where to recycle something? Check out WasteFreeSD.org.

Looking for more tips? Come to our Zero Waste Summit this Saturday, June 11th in Encinitas to build your zero waste toolkit with great giveaways! The whole family is welcome to come out, tour our interactive booths, and hear from a panel of zero waste experts. With your effort, we can keep our oceans healthy and accessible well into the future. Enjoy World Ocean Day!

Zero Waste Home - Jan 2016 (1)

ILACSD, Solana Center and Jimbo’s will all have interactive booths this Saturday!

The Play-by-Play of Kids’ Ocean Day

Hats off to another successful Kids’ Ocean Day – ILACSD’s 18th and the state’s 23rd  annual event! Kids’ Ocean Day is a unique, annual event centered on engaging our youth as environmental stewards. After a school assembly about ocean conservation, 3rd-5th grade students from eight Title 1 schools around the county joined together at South Mission Beach to leave a lasting impact on their environment.

Take a look at how we spent the day!

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Staff arrived at 5:00 AM to lay the aerial art design in the sand.

 

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Volunteer groups, like Kohl’s Associates in Action, led students during the cleanup to ensure the day ran smoothly!

 

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Thanks to additional sponsorship this year, ILACSD provided 50 reusable buckets for the cleanup, reducing the amount of disposable trash bags used at this event.

 

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Volunteers reviewed safety tips for the cleanup and got students energized for the day!

 

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Over 950 students, teachers, and volunteers participated in a beach cleanup, ensuring fewer pieces of land litter become marine debris.

 

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Zero Waste in action! Most students created temporary trash bins from repurposed milk jugs, which they later recycled.

 

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Fresh air + fresh dance moves + a freshly cleaned beach = a great day.

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Students waiting patiently for the helicopter to circle overhead and capture the perfect shot of the aerial art.

And lastly, the official image! Great job, team! To get involved with an upcoming event, please visit CleanSD.org!

Aerial Art - Kids' Ocean Day 2016


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