My First (And Certainly Not Last) Clothing Swap Party

When I first heard the idea of a “clothing swap,” I was at San Diego Leaders 2020’s Bites & Bigwigs luncheon with ILACSD’s Executive Director, Pauline Martinson. Over lunch, she discussed her career, ILACSD’s mission, and ways in which San Diego could reduce its waste. When she mentioned swapping clothes with a group of friends as a way to reduce waste and save money, I was instantly hooked. I had a growing pile of clothes I outgrew mentally and/or physically, and I knew my five best friends from college would give each piece a second life. Right after the lunch was over, I sent a group text to my friends and we planned a clothing swap party for our reunion in the mountains.

The concept of a clothing swap was not entirely new to me. I had rifled through my best friends’ clothing donation piles before they were taken to a charity, and my friends were welcome to any clothes I didn’t wear anymore. But I had never thought about doing one with the entire group as a way to help the environment. It made complete sense. One Green Planet summed up clothing swaps perfectly by saying, “Every piece of new clothing (if not made sustainably) can be the product of countless chemicals, dyes, and the like, all of which can be harmful to the earth, air, groundwater – as well as the people making the clothing and even the people who try it on and then wear it.” This doesn’t even include the significant amount of clothing that winds up in a landfill.

The day of the swap, each of us grabbed our overflowing bags of clothes and sat in a circle. I looked around me and thought about what each girl would bring to the pile. I could count on my friend Ollie for soft basics in neutral colors. Mary works at Nike headquarters so I knew I could get some cute workout clothes if I was quick enough to beat out the other girls. Marissa could be counted upon to provide trendy work clothes. And last but not least, Tristan could provide me with colorful dresses and tanks. We seized each other up and poured out the contents of our bags into the middle of the circle.

From the moment the last article of clothing hit the ground, the girls and I jumped into action. Mary picked up Tristan’s puffy vest, excited to wear it during Portland’s winter. Ollie went straight to my old ripped shorts since her pair recently broke. Tristan quickly grabbed Mary’s Nike running clothes to wear for her half-marathon training. Marissa grabbed a long skirt that was suitable for work. I quickly sifted through the pile and threw anything of interest behind me. I ended up with two workout tanks, one black-and-white striped shirt, one off-the-shoulder white blouse, and a soft pink ombre shirt. I was already planning on purchasing a few of these items, but now I had them for free!When the mayhem subsided, I looked around the circle and saw how happy everyone seemed. Everyone got several great new pieces of clothing without much bloodshed and our old clothing found a second life with very happy new owners. We went around the room and excitedly shared what each of us picked up.

After we finished our oohing and aahing at the new clothing each of us got, I turned my attention to the leftover pile in the middle. To make sure everyone had seen everything, I held up each abandoned piece before putting in a charity donation pile. These clothes weren’t picked up for various reasons but weren’t loved any less. There was a dress we thought was too short for us tall people, a pair of jeans that didn’t fit any of us anymore, and random items that we already had in our closets. We donated this pile to charity for others to enjoy.

Here were my key takeaways…

  1. The clothing swap was a lot of fun for everyone.
  2. I love clothes.
  3. I love the word “free.”
  4. It warmed my heart to see perfectly good clothing go to someone new.
  5. My bank account is sure happy about this.
  6. The environment is sure happy about this.

Have the girls and I already planned another one of these for our winter reunion? Yes, we have!

Today’s post was authored by guest contributor, Lia Bruce. Lia is a San Diego native and the Communications Coordinator for Climate Education Partners, housed at the University of San Diego. She enjoys painting, hiking, singing in a community choir, traveling, and searching for the best burger.

Registration Open for 33rd Annual Coastal Cleanup Day

Get registered today at www.CleanupDay.org!

Registration officially is open for San Diego County’s Coastal Cleanup Day! While the name Coastal Cleanup Day suggests that this cleanup is all about the beach, many of you already know ILACSD’s volunteer efforts reach far beyond the coast. With eighty percent of marine debris originating in inland areas, at ILACSD we have expanded our Coastal Cleanup Day reach to include both inland and coastal territory. This year, sixty-five percent of the cleanup sites are located inland along rivers, creeks, canyons, and urban areas with the aim to stop debris before it makes its way to the ocean. We even have 3 clean ups happening on the water with kayaks! With 114 cleanup sites last year, volunteers removed 185,000 pounds of debris from San Diego County – the equivalent weight of 10 garbage trucks! Help us remove even more trash and debris and beautify our county by getting registered for this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day on September 16, 2017, from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM! Get registered now at www.CleanupDay.org!

Cut back on waste by bringing your own reusable buckets, work gloves, and water bottle if you have them!

In an effort to reduce waste produced by an event of this size, Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers can pledge to bring at least one reusable item to the cleanup. When volunteers bring their own reusable water bottle, work gloves, and bucket to collect litter, they prevent thousands of single-use bags and disposable gloves from entering San Diego’s landfills. When you register, please consider pledging to bring one of these items with you (or all three)! Once again, we will be having our “Bling Your Bucket” competition for Coastal Cleanup Day. Participants have the opportunity to decorate their reusable buckets showing off their creativity and imagination and submit photos of for the chance to win fun prizes and have their picture posted on the Coastal Cleanup Day website for one year! Volunteers of all ages are also encouraged to participate!

Participate in the Sony Photo Contest for the chance to win a Point & Shoot Camera!

The Sony Photo Contest is also returning to Coastal Cleanup Day! While you spend the morning helping to preserve our environment, snap some pictures of all of your hard work! After attending Coastal Cleanup Day, participants can submit their best photo from the event into the competition where the top five finalists will be put to a vote on the ILACSD Facebook page. The winner will receive a Sony Point and Shoot Camera!

We also collect valuable data about the debris collection that helps us understand how we can better prevent litter. Instead of using paper data cards, ILACSD is asking volunteers to download the Ocean Conservancy’s user-friendly mobile data collection app, Clean Swell, onto their smartphones as another way to cut back on waste.

Bring the whole family and join us for Coastal Cleanup Day on September 16th!

Not only will we be removing litter on Coastal Cleanup Day, the event also includes beautification projects such as graffiti removal and replacement of invasive species with drought-tolerant alternatives. Volunteers who signup will work with ILACSD to preserve and enhance San Diego for current and future generations to enjoy. Leading the way to a zero waste, litter-free, and environmentally engaged San Diego region, ILACSD encourages all community members to take action in their neighborhood by joining us on September 16th. Registration information and details regarding Coastal Cleanup Day can be found at www.CleanupDay.org.

Become a Zero Waste Family (Without Pulling Your Hair Out)

The idea of zero waste can seem overwhelming to many, and sometimes just convincing family and kids to pitch in can be enough to stop the most eager zero-waster in their tracks. We’re here to offer some tips and suggestions for getting the whole family on board for practicing (and enjoying) a zero waste life!

Grocery Shopping for the Family:

The key to embracing a zero waste lifestyle at home is as simple as preferring reusable items to disposables. The best place to start is at the store. Grocery stores are full of food that comes prepackaged in disposable wrappers and containers. Most of this packaging, including plastic produce and grocery bags, are considered “soft plastics” and cannot be recycled with other materials. By shopping in bulk and using reusable bags and jars, you are preventing this waste from entering your home in the first place. When you’re done shopping, try making a dish from scratch from the foods you bought and packing lunches for school and work with reusable containers and utensils.

Avoid disposable prepackaged foods. Pack your kid’s lunch with reusable items instead!

Toys, Clothes, and Everything Else that Ends Up on the Floor:

On the topic of shopping, a big culprit of waste can be compulsive buys- things we want in the moment but get minimal use out of before tossing them. This could be anything from clothing to toys to food. To prevent this, buy only what you need or know you are going to use. Yes, this includes all the toys and games your kids probably ask for. It may be tough at first, but encourage your kids to value and take care of what they have (this is a tough one, but we believe in you). When you do need something, use second-hand stores as your first stop to look. Similarly, instead of throwing away good items you no longer need or want, consider giving them a new life through donation.

Buy your toys second hand. When you’re done with them, donate them instead of tossing them!

Cleaning Up that Neverending Mess:

Anyone with children (and without) knows that messes are bound to happen, but they don’t have to set you back on your zero waste journey. To clean up spills or wash surfaces, opt for reusable cloths and DIY cleaning products instead of paper towels and store-bought chemical cleaners. Most DIY household cleaners only require a few ingredients, and chances are you already have most of them lying around! For example, an effective all-purpose cleaner can be made with white vinegar, baking soda, water, and essential oils.

Fill the Calendar with Zero Waste Family Fun:

It’s important to note that zero waste doesn’t have to be all about the stuff you have; it can also be about the things you do! A great way to get the whole family engaged is to have fun doing activities that let you spend time together without creating trash. Some options include visiting a park or beach, checking some books or movies out from the library, exploring a museum or aquarium, riding bikes, crafting using upcycled materials, and, of course, participating in an ILACSD cleanup! San Diego has an endless supply of places to explore, and by living zero waste you and your family can enjoy them while knowing that you are doing your part in keeping them clean and beautiful!

Participate in zero waste activities as a family. Join ILACSD for a cleanup and enjoy the outdoors while improving it!

Don’t forget, zero waste is a journey. You don’t get kicked out of the club if you slip up or struggle. With a family, this journey does take a little more effort, but your efforts will pay off for your kids. By following even a few of these tips, you’re helping leave the world much better off for your children (and eventually their children) to enjoy!

 

This article was authored by our Education Specialist, Alaine!

How to Stay Green on Your Summer Trip

It’s no secret that traveling is one of the best parts of summer, be it a trek over 2,700 miles away to NYC or just 2 miles to Mission Beach, it’s not a stretch to say that getting off the couch and soaking up some sun is on everyone’s to-do list. Unfortunately, when piecing together travel plans, green habits tend to turn a bit gray which is completely understandable. When thinking of sustainable travel, the first image that pops into many minds is one of a lone backpacker cooking a questionable meal on a solar powered burner outside of a ten-man tent. Lucky for us, the reality of green traveling is as easy as making small choices that lessen the impact we have on our destinations and the environments we cross to get there. Here are a few tips to consider to go green on your next summer trip.

Before Leaving

Any change starts at home and if you’re going on vacation for a few days anytime soon, be sure to minimize your home footprint as much as possible while you’ll be away. You can do this by following these few simple steps:

Adjust Your Thermostat

You’re going to be gone for a few days and if there are no pets or people, there is no reason to have the AC on full blast nor should the heat be on. Given we are in the midst of summer your thermostat should be set around 85º F (you could even turn it off if you want) so long as it doesn’t interfere with any temperature sensitive appliances like your refrigerator.

Unplug Electronics

We are constantly using electricity even when we don’t realize it. Any time an electronic device or appliance is plugged in, even if it’s not in use, it is still leeching electricity. That electricity being used is produced primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, 65% to be exact according to the US Energy and Information Administration. So before you go, don’t forget to unplug any gaming system, TV, laptop, toaster, or microwave that would otherwise be leeching power while you’re away.

What to Bring

Deciding what to pack for a trip is one of the most important phases of the pre-trip process. What you bring impacts your choices once you’re there, so why not set yourself up for sustainable success by keeping the following in mind during your packing.

Pack Your Own Reusable Shopping Bags

Simply roll one or two bags up and tuck them into your suitcase or backpack to cut down on the packaging you would otherwise throw away when shopping in a different city. This is also a helpful day bag option if you don’t want to haul all of your luggage around town!

Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle

One water bottle takes on average at least 450 years to degrade, and it takes about twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water inside the bottle. Consider skipping the plastic bottle all together and invest in a durable bottle.

Bring Less, Pack Light

There are a plethora of benefits that come along with packing light, ranging from saving on baggage fees when flying to knowing what you have is what’s by your side. The biggest benefit, however, comes from the shrinking of your carbon footprint when you fly, the less you bring the less weight the airplane carries which lessens the planes fuel use and carbon emissions.

Choose Your Method of Travel Wisely

Let’s get this out the way now: walking is the most sustainable mode of transport we will ever have. Unfortunately, it often duals as one of the most impractical. When it comes to making sustainable travel decisions, the distance you’re traveling is the most important factor.

Local Trips

When heading out to the beach to meet up with friends consider taking the public transportation rather than your car. Not only will you save on gas, but you’ll also help improve local air quality which is often much worse in urban areas where traffic tends to suffer from congestion.

Another option (for those close enough) is to get the gang together and then bike to your destination.

Further Destinations

According to the UCSUSA, when traveling between 100 and 500 miles motor coaches and trains are the most effective form of travel leaving the smallest carbon footprints. On top of saving the environment from additional emissions, you also save yourself of a few bucks with the average Amtrak ticket ranging from $145-170, the average domestic flight ticket landing at $379, and bus services such as Greyhound being considerably cheaper than both.

Long Distances

Now when traveling overseas or cross-country, the practicality of green travel gets a little fuzzy. As much as we’d like to be green, it’s just not really feasible. In the cases you find yourself traveling by air, be sure to fly the most direct route to your destination and always fly coach. Though it may be cramped at times, the more people that can be seated on a plane helps lessen each individuals’ impact on the environment. Not only will this shorten your travel time, but it will also reduce your fuel consumption as your taking less total flights.

Once You’ve Arrived

Stay at a Green Hotel or with Family and Friends

If you’re not leaving the United States, check if the hotel you’re planning on staying at is LEED certified by the US Green Business Council, they judge on sustainability, efficiency, and quality of the way buildings are constructed, maintained and operated. If you are going overseas be sure to find out what that countries green hotel certification program is and what hotels are certified.

If you have any family or friends where you’re going, ask them if you can crash at their place for a few nights.

Keep Your Shopping Habits Local

When staying in a place far from home, we tend to cling to things we are familiar with, be it a certain kind of soap or a certain kind of food. Many of these things must be flown or shipped from overseas, which only contributes to greenhouse emissions. Every time you buy local you not only support the local economy but you also get a unique taste of the local culture and cuisine.

Rethink Souvenirs

For many of us, one of the best parts of traveling is the cool stuff we buy while out globetrotting. While the stuff we buy is cool to look at much of it ends up on a shelf collecting dust. When out shopping, ask yourself if you really need that little knick-knack or if a picture of it would suffice. If you still want to shop around, just follow the advice from above and stay local because who wants something made from assembly line a thousand miles away anyhow?

Getting Around

Though it may be easier to call up an Uber or taxi service to drive you around, the average vehicle still releases about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year according to the EPA. As an alternative try renting a bike from either a bike shop or at an automated bike rental stand. Another option would be to take public transportation which reduces the amount of CO2 emitted per person or just walk, eliminating these emissions completely.

Remember that even if you just put to action one of the tips above you will be making a difference and be one step closer to traveling sustainably. Safe (green) travels!

Today’s blog was written by guest contributor, Jessica Lewis. Jessica is your every day, So-Cal based writer with an interest in the environment. 

Vermicomposting: Tips from First Timers

When it comes to going zero waste, composting often seems to be one the most intimidating step to take. Yes, composting definitely requires more time up front compared to swapping out single-use items for reusable options, but the process is not nearly as time consuming or scary as you might imagine. To help ease any fears that might still have you feeling hesitant, some of the ILACSD team is giving you a look into their own experiences with composting for the first time!

Emily showing Lauren and Moriah how to make their own vermicomposting bin!

But let’s get started with a review of some basics when it comes to composting. Composting is the process of converting food scraps and yard waste into compost, an organic, nutrient-rich alternative to fertilizer in your garden or your potted plants. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy’s Equinox Project, organic waste makes up one-third of the waste in San Diego’s landfills. By composting, we can divert organic waste from landfills where it can release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In the I Love A Clean San Diego office, we have multiple team members who collect food waste to be brought back to their composting bins. This past June, Moriah and Lauren made their own vermicomposting bins and began their composting journeys! With a few simple tools, we enjoyed time in the sun making the bins and learning all the details of vermicomposting!

Both Moriah and Lauren have been using their vermicomposting bins about a month now. With that experience under their belt, we checked back in to see how the process has been going. Lauren explained, “I have to say it’s intimidating to have another thing to take care of in my household, but the simplicity and beauty of this natural process are what astonishes me the most, day after day.” Moriah shared how having Emily – our Education Manager and composting expert – in our office as a resource impacted her experience:

“Having Emily as a resource has been super helpful. She has even responded to Snapchats I’ve sent to her of the bin to let me know if it looks like it is healthy and thriving. Emily’s help and the resources in our office have led to a pretty healthy bin. The worms are breeding and eating everything much quicker than I expected!”

Worms for the vermicomposting bins!

With a flourishing, healthy bin, Moriah has been able to show off her composting skills with her friends and family. By passing along her knowledge and story, she is creating a community she can be a resource for when it comes to vermicomposting.

“Whenever I have people over, I get to be the “worm girl,” showing off the bin and talking about how easy it has been to set up. They are always amazed that it doesn’t smell, that it’s small, and by all the things the worms eat. When we hosted a 4th of July party, people had fun (I think) digging in the bin to give the worms their watermelon rinds. Friends have even given me their rotten vegetables to put in the bin, saving those from going to the landfill.”

Composting does not have to be the unbeatable zero waste giant some imagine it to be. Finding your community, ask questions, and just taking the first step is really all it takes! So why wait? Start your own composting journey today!

Summer Social 2017: Toasts, Tacos, and a Tremendous Time!

On Saturday, June 24th, I Love A Clean San Diego celebrated our annual Summer Social: “Toasts & Tacos”

Delicious tacos from Rubio's and tasty beer from ChuckAlek at our Summer Social!

Delicious tacos from Rubio’s and tasty beer from ChuckAlek at our Summer Social!

This SOLD OUT event brought over 100 guests to the ChuckAlek Biergarten for a fun and relaxed afternoon to support the environmental and educational programming offered by ILACSD. Guests enjoyed delicious tacos from Rubio’s Coastal Grill, as well as signature craft beers by ChuckAlek Biergarten.

 

SONY DSC

Iliana Ortiz & Dee Jay Acoustic Duo (featuring David Sullivan on drums!)

Lively music was provided by the local group, Dee Jay & Iliana Acoustic Duo (featuring David Sullivan on drums), kept the party going with their fresh takes on some of our favorite songs. A lively raffle was held with terrific prizes such as homemade jam made by an ILACSD Board Member, tickets to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, a set of tickets to an upcoming San Diego Padres game, lunch for two at the Liberty Station Slater’s 50/50 restaurant, and the most sought after item—a one night stay at local luxury hotel, Tower 23 in Pacific Beach with a generous gift certificate for dinner for two at adjoining restaurant, JRDN.

Can't win if you don't play! A few attendees hoping their raffle tickets are lucky!

Can’t win if you don’t play! A few attendees hoping their raffle tickets are lucky!

Funds raised at this event support the ongoing educational programming, community cleanup events, recycling and hazardous household waste information services, robust internship program, and other volunteer efforts of I Love A Clean San Diego. We are so appreciative of all our new and old friends who joined in this terrific event! Save the date for the next ILACSD fundraiser, our annual fall social, “Brews on the Bay”, which will be held on Thursday, October 12th from 5:30 pm-8:30 pm at the beautiful Catamaran Resort Hotel. Limited sponsorship opportunities are available by contacting Janelle Hickey, Development Manager, at 619-704-2788 or via email at jhickey@cleansd.org.

Did you miss out on the fun at “Toasts & Tacos”? Make sure to reserve your tickets asap for “Brews on the Bay” when they go on sale on August 1, 2017!

janelle-hickey-headshot-copy

This article was authored by our Development Manager, Janelle!

Eliminating Plastic from Your Life

Plastic is ubiquitous, and sadly, it does not biodegrade. Instead, it goes through a process called photodegradation, which means the sun’s UV light actually breaks down the plastic into smaller and smaller pieces until it is so incredibly tiny we can hardly see it. Microplastics and the chemicals and toxins that it takes to create plastic will regrettably be in the environment forever.

We need to move away from plastic dependency.

Today, we will identify some main plastic pollution offenders and then offer suggestions and alternatives you can apply in your journey to becoming plastic free! So let’s tackle a low hanging fruit, straws. The history of straws is built mostly on convenience; they are impractical, not recyclable. It’s easy to say no to straws, simply ask your server or local barista to go sans straw, it might be intimidating the first couples tries, but with enough practice and exposure, it will become second nature to ask for a drink without a straw. If you can’t live without a straw, because driving and drinking smoothies can be dangerous, grab yourself a reusable straw for when you are on the go.

Kick your plastic habit and switch to a reusable straw!

Kick your plastic habit and switch to a reusable straw!

Next, swap out your traditional toothbrush for a bamboo handle toothbrush. Instead of heading to a landfill like a traditional toothbrush, the bamboo one is biodegradable, but remember to remove the bristles from the handle before you toss it into a compost bin. Alternatively, you can purchase toothbrushes that are made from recycled plastic, one of the more well-known brushes is created from old yogurt cups!

Another great area to reduce your plastic consumption is in hygiene products. From toiletries to dish soap to laundry detergent to cleaning supplies, they practically all come in plastic packaging. Rethinking the way you purchase these products will drastically reduce your plastic footprint. Purchase bar soaps for the shower and specialized bar soap for the kitchen sink. Make your own chemical free cleaner and house it in an old jam jar. Craft your own 3 ingredient toothpaste. Purchase powder laundry soap that comes in a cardboard box. Choose to implement just one of these and you are on your way to a plastic free mentality.

Make your own 3 ingredient toothpaste and eliminate excess packaging!

Make your own 3 ingredient toothpaste and eliminate excess packaging!

Next, buy fresh, buy smart, and buy in bulk. When you purchase fresh food, it normally doesn’t come in packaging. So it only makes sense to be smart about your purchasing habits. Instead of reaching for the conveniently packaged and peeled baby carrots, grab a handful of loose large carrots instead. In the mood for trail mix? Instead of purchasing plastic bagged fruits and nuts, search for a grocery store near you that offers trail mix by the pounds in a do it yourself bulk section, and bring your own glass jars to fill it up!

Always prepare to shop smart with reusable bags and jars for buying in bulk!

Always prepare to shop smart with reusable bags and jars for buying in bulk!

So there you have it, a little inspiration to jump start your journey to going plastic free!

Just remember, you are not expected or encouraged to give up plastic cold turkey. Ease into it. Decide to make a couple personal lifestyle adjustments and other plastic free alternatives will seep into your routine naturally, you’ll see.

This article was authored by our Education Specialist, Katie!

This article was authored by our Education Specialist, Katie!

WFSD FAQ: Top Recycling Questions from 2016

Did you know I Love A Clean San Diego received more than 13,000 inquiries in 2016 through the WasteFreeSD.org database and call center combined? That’s right! WasteFreeSD.org answers all your recycling questions and it is just a click away! With that in mind, Ani, our incredible Recycling Programs Manager, has created our newest recurring blog series that features frequently asked questions from WasteFreeSD.org that we will be calling WFSD FAQ!

WFSD Database

Go to WasteFreeSD.org to answer all of your zero waste questions!

WFSD FAQ: Top Recycling Questions from 2016

This year I Love A Clean San Diego staff worked hard to build WasteFreeSD.org into a Zero Waste Database. The redesigned site houses information beyond recycling including repair options, reduction tips, and donation locations. We thought we would share with our readers the top recycling questions we received last year. Any guess on what the number one most asked about item (non-hazardous) was in 2016? Drumroll, please! It was…refrigerators!

2016’s Top three most asked about items (non-hazardous):

  1. As previously mentioned, refrigerators were the number one item residents are looking to recycle. Refrigerators are bulky and most residents call to inquire about pickup services, fees apply. Some recyclers that accept appliances will actually pay you for bringing it to their facility to recycle, it’s a few cents a pound but hey anything helps! The redesigned WasteFreeSD.org allows for users to search for repair services including services that repair refrigerators. Make appliances last longer with proper maintenance and hire a professional to fix.
  2. It’s no surprise that as new technology rolls out people are looking for the latest and greatest. Televisions ranked second as the most asked about item for recycling. There are plenty of recycling options for electronics including e-waste collection events and household hazardous waste collection facilities. Some businesses even offer pickup services, fees apply. Opt to buy any new technology, televisions were made to last! Believe it or not, there are still places that repair televisions, at a reasonable price.

    tv

    Keeping electronics for longer and properly recycling them afterward ensures that they do not end up in the landfill.

  3. Christmas in the Summer? Just kidding! We receive a large number of inquiries in January after the holidays about recycling Christmas trees. When you take your recycling tree to a collection site, the trees are made into mulch, which is then used to improve soil health at public parks, local farms, and homes. If your waste hauler offers a pickup service, make sure you read the curbside instructions and plan early! Many waste haulers will only pick up Christmas trees immediately after the holidays. Be prepared to take down that tree before the service goes away!

Do you have any recycling questions that need answers? Do your part to keep items in good condition out of the landfill, search for repair options and donation locations today! Check out the redesigned WasteFreeSD.org and tell us what you think!

“Salt.” Where Does it Go?

Today’s blog post was written by guest contributor and High Tech Middle Media Arts 6th grader, Regan G.A.ocean

You may be wondering where the salt goes after desalination? You might think that it wouldn’t be harmful at all to where it’s put, right? After all, “It’s just salt”.

Desalination Explained

Desalination is the process of removing salt from ocean water to make it pure and drinkable (Desalination by reverse osmosis). A desalination plant is where this process is done. They collect the water from the ocean and remove the salt.

Where “Salt” Goes

Most of the time they put whatever is left of the “Salt” back in the ocean at some distance from the desalination plant (Answers Corporation). This can be very harmful considering that the salt can become a chemical that can be difficult to break in the process of desalination (Green Garbage Corporation). Some plants like the Tampa’s Plant, in Florida, have found a different way to dispose of the brine. The Tampa’s Plant has discovered a way to use the brine as energy. They use brine to produce part of the energy for desalination. I don’t really understand why they don’t share their amazing discovery with the rest of the facilities.

Plants like the Tampa’s Plant are located next to waters with a high energy swell. When the salt/brine go back into the water it will mix better. An energy swell is a powerful large pushing movement. The further away the salt goes, it goes into a pipeline. This pipeline helps reduce the effect that the salt and brine can cause onto sensitive marine life. It acts sort of like a filter that takes the brine away from some sensitive marine life like seagrass and reef systems.

How It Can Affect the Environment

Putting the leftover brine in the ocean can be very harmful (Marine Impacts). The brine is so rich in salt that it can contaminate any environment it is placed in. This can also damage the plants and animals around it. If the Tampa plant would just share their idea, the brine would stop killing plants and animals. If they came up with this idea and don’t share it with other desalination plants, then is it really any use to the environment?

There are also some more effects that can harm the bottom of the sea (Green Garbage Corporation). When the salt is filtered from the water it is put aside as “Waste Water”. The water is heavier than the sea water so if it is incorrectly put in the ocean then it would sink to the bottom in calm water from the lack of oxygen. It will come down in a plume of salty water that can kill organisms and animals at the seabed. This is terrible because some microorganisms live deep in the water and can get killed. Some of these microorganisms help the temperatures of the planet stay low by producing oxygen through photosynthesis.

One Phytoplankton microorganism

One Phytoplankton microorganism

Thank you for reading this now you know where the salt and brine goes and how it can affect us. Now, remember that it’s not “Just Salt.”

 

About the Author:

Regan is a 6th grade student at HTMMA on the Brady/Joy/Grace team. She enjoys writing, art, science, reading, and dancing. She really hopes that you found this helpful and enjoyable. Thank you! 

This article is originally posted on the HTMMA Project Page and is reposted here with permission. Check out the entire collection of articles from the HTMMA students here.


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