Let’s all be Gleaning Machines

Gleaning Canva GraphicNo there isn’t a typo in the title, gleaning is a real technique that helps minimize food waste and hunger. What is it? It’s a  practice, used for hundreds of years, that seeks to reduce the amount of food that is wasted because it is not visually appealing. Gleaners harvest the crops that are not used by farmers and deliver them to those in need.

Linda Trozer, a member of the Society of St. Andrew, explains the unbelievable reality of agricultural food waste in the U.S. today.  Food is wasted at a disturbingly high rate, “The statistics are that 96 billion pounds of food are left — this is pre-consumer food — to go to waste in this country.”

What does this have to do with the average American family? The answer is food deserts. Millions of Americans are living in these areas that are lacking in cost-friendly, nutritious food.

Food Desert Infogrpahic

By throwing away edible food for superficial reasons, farmers prevent access to fresh fruits and veggies for thousands of Americans and contribute to the food desert epidemic. Naked Juice produced an interesting documentary about food deserts and their effect on American neighborhoods.

Gleaning provides an excellent solution to the this problem. If it sounds like something you might want to participate in, check out local organizations such as San Diego Grass Roots and Crop Swap  for upcoming events. Whether you are a farmer or a novice gardener, anyone can play a role in reducing food waste by gleaning or distributing gleaned produce.

Gleaning

Let’s glean the food waste away one lemon tree at a time!

If you want to learn more about the gleaning process and other food waste reduction practices,check out our past blog about gleaning and I Love A Clean San Diego’s recycling website. We can all be lean green gleaning machines! 

PB Site Captain Strikes a Chord with Surfers & Volunteers

Today’s blog is written by our marketing intern, Violette! She loves to surf, so keeping  trash out of the waves is very important to her!

This year on September 17th I love a Clean San Diego is hosting the 32nd annual Coastal Cleanup Day at over 100+ sites in San Diego County. In order to run such a large scale clean up, we depend heavily on the support of our site captains. This year, we decided to spotlight some site captains like Amanda of Tourmaline in Pacific Beach!

Here is a cutie with her reusable bucket at Amanda’s cleanup site!

Tourmaline Beach’s site captain, Amanda, has been a captain for 5 years and has evolved her cleanup site into a zero waste cleanup!

Living in Pacific Beach for about 11 years and learning to surf at Tourmaline are two factors that influenced Amanda to become the site captain of Tourmaline. The opportunity to give back to a place that is so special to her makes the cleanup more meaningful, and allows for others to create the same kind of connection. She wants to make sure Tourmaline stays clean by hosting a zero waste cleanups with reusable gloves, buckets, water jugs. She hopes to teach others the importance of having a waste-free cleanup!  The tight-knit community of surfers and families that enjoy Tourmaline Beach make up a large portion of the volunteers that come out to this site on Coastal Cleanup Day. These community members are often return cleanup volunteers, so they know to bring their reusable buckets, gloves and water bottles and contribute to Amanda’s zero-waste cleanup.

Amanda(left) with a few of her awesome volunteers!

For Amanda, becoming a site captain was an easy decision. She says all you need is a good attitude, because everything else is provided to you, such as training and supplies. Through her 5 years of being a site captain, one of the most important parts is the opportunity to make a meaningful difference and impact peoples’ lives. Part of that impact is helping volunteers realize that they can decrease the trash on the beach by reducing their plastic and non-reusable goods consumption in everyday life. Being a site captain allows Amanda to have meaningful conversations with volunteers that encourage a change in their views and actions in relation to trash and the environment. “I love the connection you can make with the volunteers, and seeing how quickly their views can change after one morning of picking up trash.”

lobster traps that have been found at tourmaline

Everyone benefits from the cleanups, and sometimes Amanda even sees surfers start to join in the cleanup when they leave the water! Old lobster traps are found often at Tourmaline Beach and these pose a danger to surfers, animals and all beach-goers. Knowing that all this trash could hurt someone or something is important for the volunteers to recognize, because for Amanda it’s all about hitting home with her volunteers. She wants them to see that the actions they take every day affect our beaches more than they know.

Amanda is stoked on finding trash and cleaning up our beaches, and wants everyone to feel the same. “Coastal Cleanup Day is a good deed on Saturday morning to start your weekend off right” Amanda says.

You don’t need to register for Tourmaline to clean up with zero waste – pledge to bring a reusable item or three to the site of your choice when you register at CleanupDay.org!

San Ysidro is Ready for Coastal Cleanup Day!

Hi, I’m Violette, the ILACSD marketing intern! For my first Coastal Cleanup Day (CCD) I had the opportunity to learn about a few site captains that help CCD have such a large impact on San Diego.

CCD16 - Central site capt mtg (7)

Irene sharing about San Ysidro with fellow site captains.

The 32nd annual Coastal Cleanup Day is around the corner (Saturday, Sept. 17), and we wanted to highlight a few of the site captains that help make this event possible! Site captains lead volunteers at one of the 100+ sites in San Diego County to help organize and impact that site. Irene, site captain of Howard Lane park, is one of many amazing site captains that help keep San Diego clean.

As a new Site Captain, Irene is going forward with a positive attitude and determination to coordinate a great cleanup.

Although this will be Irene’s first time as a site captain, it is certainly not her first cleanup. She and her Girl Scout troop have been doing cleanups in the San Ysidro area for about six years! Aside from the first time site captain nerves, Irene has the experience, and is eager to plan and execute a strategy to clean her site in the most effective way. She wants to use her influence as site captain to help others recognize the importance of properly disposing of trash, and bring hope for a cleaner San Ysidro.

Similar too many of our other cleanup sites, Irene sees illegal dumping and littering in these neighborhoods. Sometimes this occurs in such large quantities, that Irene is ready to take this into her own hands. As a member of the San Ysidro community, Irene hopes to inspire neighborhood pride by helping to create a cleaner community that the residents will want to keep beautiful.

some trash commonly found at many sites such as San Ysidro

Some trash commonly found at many sites such as San Ysidro

Being the leader of Girl Scout Troop 5912 also inspired Irene to become a site captain for Howard Lane Park. Leading a troop larger than most, and becoming a site captain is an opportunity to motivate smaller troops with the excitement to attend the cleanup. Not only do the Scouts have fun cleaning-up with other troops, but they also receive a patch! The free patches are very popular among scouts, and scout leaders like Irene. Irene always encourages her Girl Scouts to do more than what is expected, and hopes to bring that same attitude to her CCD volunteers!

a few patches girl/boy scouts receive after a cleanup!

Patch requests will be available at CleanUpDay.org following Sept. 17!

And here’s a sneak peek at this year’s patch design, too! Drum roll please….

CCD16-Patch

For others considering volunteering at Coastal Cleanup Day, Irene urges them to come out to set an example for others to care about the quality of their neighborhood. Most importantly, Coastal Cleanup Day is something that makes you feel good because you are doing good for the environment!

Thank you to the San Ysidro Community Foundation for supporting our San Ysidro sites!

Zero Waste Travel with Emily

While schools were on break this summer, Emily, ILACSD’s education manager, took time to travel both domestically and internationally. During her journey, she learned about how other places manage resources and waste. Read on for her best tips for reducing waste while on vacation.Emily Taroko Gorge

Traveling is a popular pastime, and for good reason. Stepping outside our community exposes us to new ideas and helps us gain greater appreciation for our globe and the other inhabitants who share it.  Though traveling can throw off our normal routine, here are a few small, simple ways to maintain zero waste principles while on the go.

For the airplane:

  • Pack your own snacks and reusable water bottle to avoid the tempting pretzels and soft drinks. Although aluminum can be recycled continually, it’s better to avoid the energy used to manufacture and transport that can in the first place.
reusable snack container

Stainless steel container filled with bulk dried cranberries, pecans, and popcorn.

Eating throughout the trip:

  • Just like at home, dining in is more often zero waste than buying take-out. Even better, explore a local grocery store or farmer’s market. It’ll be easier to find items without packing, and you’ll get to experience a different aspect of the culture. Three items I always like to carry with me are a reusable water bottle, reusable spork, and reusable chopsticks. If I remember, I also pack my reusable stainless straw, though I usually just go straw-less. Pack any leftovers into the reusable container you used for your plane snacks.

    reusable chopsticks udon

    This delicious udon tasted even better with my reusable chopsticks.

Accommodations:

  • According to the EPA, 16% of water use in hotels is attributed to laundry. Help reduce their footprint by only refreshing towels when needed. Additionally, search for hotels who provide a “light clean” service – a practice that includes simply straightening the sheets like you do at home instead of laundering bed linens daily.
  • Some hotels and hostels donate partially used hygiene items to organizations like Clean the World. To see if where you’re staying is a participant, and to learn how much they’ve donated to date, click here.
  • Look for accommodations that have innovative, sustainable options as a way to test out potential lifestyle changes. Our Air Bnb in Kyoto had a combination sink-toilet, something my husband and I had been talking about for several months. Now that we’ve had a trial run, we’re more likely to invest in one for our home.

    toilet top sink

    After testing it out on our trip, now we’re even more excited to install a toilet-sink in our home!

Hygiene:

  • Opt for items with non-plastic packaging. On your next adventure, try bar shampoo or Toothy Tabs – dry toothpaste tablets brought to froth with a wet toothbrush. Both avoid the 3 oz. liquid limit for carry-on bags. Refill travel-sized bottles with your shampoo/conditioner/lotion at home before you go. I’ve been using the same set for over five years!

    https://i0.wp.com/cleansd.files.wordpress.com/2016/09/refillable-shampoo-osaka.jpg?ssl=1refillable shampoo Osaka

    Our hotel in Osaka provided shampoo, conditioner, and soap in refillable pumps.

Other:

  • Learn to use the waste systems in place for where you’re going. Take the time to stop and figure out how to divide your waste. You may even come home with a new idea about how to go green. Ten points to Gryffindor Seattle for having large-scale composting AND pictures of what to place in each receptacle. I witnessed multiple people stopping to read the sign before sorting their waste. The more educated we are, the more of an impact we can make.

waste bins Seattle

If you’re looking for more steps for zero waste travel, check out Girl For A Clean World on Instagram – she’s full of inspiration and innovative ideas. I’ll let this sign I saw in Taipei sum it all up:

sign_Taipei

Zero Waste Labor Day Party

This Labor Day, enjoy your friends and family while protecting the environment. Here are four Zero Waste Tips for the holiday weekend:

  1. Enjoy your beverage in a zero waste fashion- either have everyone bring their own mug or provide everyone with a fun decorated reusable cup. This way, all of your guests will know which container belongs to them and can continue to use it throughout the night. Take it one step further and exchange plastic straws for paper, glass, or metal straws. ILACSD sells these lovely metal reusable straws, too!sam instafamous
  2. Send out evites or make a Facebook invite instead of sending out mail invitations to save paper.
  3. Use reusable utensils and napkins.zero waste labor day weekend blog
  4. Buy some bulky food! This will reduce the packaging that would otherwise go to our landfills or end up as litter.
  • Most burgers, both meat and the veggie kind will freeze well and so do buns. Just take out the necessities for the party and freeze the rest.
  • Instead of buying packaged veggies and dip, buy bulk carrots, celery, broccoli, cucumbers, bell peppers, and any other veggies and cut them up. Serve them home-made ranch dressing or hummus and enjoy!

Reuseable bag for bulk items

We hope you use one or all of these tips to stay sustainable during your fun weekend plans. Happy Labor Day!

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!

12140595_2563855941330_6771844673869985997_n

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?

Bulk Food and Produce 1

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.

Repurposed Bag Container_Leila

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!


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