How Do Expiration Dates Work?

Today’s blog post was written by High Tech Middle Media Arts 6th grader, Kaiya. Kaiya’s class studied the impact that humans have on our local water resources and their contribution to food waste on a global scale. The students looked into water and food waste issues locally, statewide, nationwide and globally. The class hopes to educate the local community about waste and pollution issues and inspire change.
Photo credits
Illustration by John Wagner

Have you ever wondered how expiration dates work? Wondered how important they are? Well, I certainly did. So to those who still do, let me explain.

Let’s start with a short history lesson. Expiration dates were introduced in 1950 at a store called Marks & Spencers. It wasn’t until 1970 when “Sell By” and “Best By” tags were added to most supermarkets. Now that our history lesson has concluded, let’s get to the interesting stuff!

Expiration dates aren’t supposed to show a fruit’s edibility, but the fruit’s “peak quality”; not when it’s expired. It’s because of this common misconception that people discard perfectly good food! So actually, expiration dates are optional. They are suggestions meant to assist. It’s more important to know your food and to simply throw it out because of the expiration date.

Oftentimes, grocery stores will throw away their produce once it turns brown.

Well, how and why were they made?

Americans discontinued making their food, but still wanted to be informed about how it was made. This caused the creation of expiration dates. The facilities did tests on fruit, seeing how long they usually lasted. The most common result would become its “expiration date.”

We are wasting food.

When shopping for fruits, people are usually attracted to the apple that has the least bruises, causing an unnecessary amount of food waste. The food that’s wasted converts to a brown lump and produces a white puss. That’s mold. Mold should be thrown out, but if it’s just brown, it should be fine. Brown spots on fruit are sugar spots, meaning they amplify the flavor. They are perfectly safe to consume, but if it’s a blob of brown, you should throw it away. These spots are discovered on bananas when they continue to ripen, due to ethylene. Supermarkets tend to throw away brown fruit because it doesn’t sell. Food is wasted for no reason.

As your bananas begin to brown, throw them in your freezer to make smoothies, or use them to make banana bread!

Why do they become brown?

Brown fruit is oxidized fruit, meaning that air made them turn brown. Brown fruit is still edible! Apples turn brown in recently bitten parts. The brown on parts on apples reduce taste, but it can still be consumed.

Is there anything I shouldn’t eat when expired? Yes. Infant formula loses its nutrients passed its expiration date. Expired deli meats give you food poisoning, as well as eggs. Dairy gets bacteria buildup when it expires, so it also shouldn’t be consumed.

What moldy food can I eat?

Cheese increases in value when moldy. It tastes more flavorful, which makes a higher profit when sold. However, only specific types of cheese are edible with mold. Cheddar, Colby, Parmesan, and Swiss should be fine to consume. Other soft cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese, and ricotta cheese with mold should be discarded.

About the Author

Kaiya is a 6th grader at HTMMA. Her blog was democratically selected by her peers to be featured on I Love A Clean San Diego’s website. Her work will be exhibited alongside other students at a community beach cleanup coordinated by the HTMMA students. 

 

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Making Waves at Kids’ Ocean Day!

On May 24th, I Love A Clean San Diego celebrated its 20th Kids’ Ocean Day, fostering the next wave of environmentally informed and engaged students. Kids’ Ocean Day is not just an excuse for students to hang out at the beach during the school day. It actually begins weeks before in the schools with ILACSD staff facilitating educational presentations for local elementary school students! These students then join ILACSD and a team of volunteers at the beach for a litter cleanup and the formation of an aerial art piece.

During the assemblies, ILACSD educators teach students about the importance of marine life, how their actions affect the ocean, and how they have the power to protect the health our environment. “It was absolutely fantastic. We had kids eager to go to other beaches to clean them up. I can’t say enough good things about how much the kids loved the assembly,” said one teacher from Los Peñasquitos Elementary. The teacher explained how they loved their students being able to see others come together to make a difference for their community during the beach cleanup. The teacher was thrilled to have their students participate in Kids’ Ocean Day, saying, “Thank you so much for this incredible experience. We can’t thank you enough for this opportunity.”

Over the 20 years that ILACSD has hosted Kids’ Ocean Day, we have engaged 20,816 participants and removed approximately 7,280 lbs. of debris from San Diego’s coastline. 

Each year, the five participating California cities determine a statewide-theme for the artwork. The 2018 theme – “Waves of Change” – evokes images of our youngest generations propelling us forward towards a cleaner, safer, and more mindful future. It illustrates how our daily choices, including what we eat, wear, discard, and purchase, have far-reaching effects. This message is broadcast to the world through the art formation. It serves as a call to action for others to join the cause and be mindful of consumption and disposal habits. Check out this video to see the final aerial art image being formed!

Students collected plastic debris on Mission Beach using re-purposed water jugs!  

“Kids’ Ocean Day is my favorite day of the year,” said Emily Nelson, Education Manager at I Love A Clean San Diego. “This entire event, from the assembly to the cleanup and aerial artwork, showcases the power of the individual, no matter their age. I hope each child realizes just how important and powerful they are.”

We would not have been able to make “Waves of Change” without the help of our sponsors, our volunteers, teachers, and students!

Thank you to all of our Kid’s Ocean Day sponsor for investing in a cleaner San Diego!

California’s Coastal Commission’s Whale Tail Grant Program and
the Protect Our Coast and Oceans Fund

Qualcomm Foundation
Cox Communications
Jack in the Box
Bumble Bee Seafoods
Alta Environmental
Wells Fargo
CRC CARES
U.S. Bank
ViaSat
Kohl’s
Einstein Bagels
Starbucks
Outside the Lens

 

Be a Wave of Change at Kids’ Ocean Day

This May, I Love A Clean San Diego will bring 1,000 elementary school students, teachers, and volunteers to the beach to become a living piece of artwork at South Mission Beach to celebrate the annual Kids’ Ocean Day. Through a partnership with the California Coastal Commission, ILACSD will host San Diego County’s 20th Annual Kids’ Ocean Day! Kids’ Ocean Day kicks off before we even reach the beach with in-school assemblies to educate the students on the importance of our ocean, how it is being harmed due to human actions, and how we each play a role in protecting the health of our oceans. Then, on May 24th, these students will unite in a beach cleanup, followed by the formation of an image only visible from the sky. Check out the video below to get a glimpse of what to expect at Kids’ Ocean Day.

This year, the statewide theme is “Waves of Change,” evoking the powerful force we can be when united in our actions. Forming the aerial art message through the collective efforts of each individual sitting in the sand is a perfect metaphor for how our combined daily habits like refusing single-use plastics have incredible power in shaping the health of our environment. We are grateful to have so many young participants engaging in this cause and hope this event will propel their momentum in acting as wise environmental stewards.

Revealing I Love A Clean San Diego’s 2018 Kids’ Ocean Day “WAVES OF CHANGE” Aerial Art Design:

2018 Kids’ Ocean Day Aerial Art Design

If you would like to be a part of this event, we’re looking for adult volunteers (18 years of age and older) to lead students during the cleanup and the aerial art. If you’re interested, you can find more details on the Kids’ Ocean Day event page or register here! As a thank you, all volunteers will receive a photo of the completed aerial art image as a keepsake! We hope you’ll come together with us this year to be a wave of change for our environment!

 

Announcing the ILACSD Student Impact Committee

At I Love A Clean San Diego, we’ve been lucky to work with multitudes of dedicated and inspiring young volunteers. From our high school-aged Site Captains for our countywide cleanups to the members of Think Blue Brigade, making an impact on San Diego’s youth has always been a vitally important aspect of the work we do. We’ve seen what a difference these passionate young leaders can make by not only learning from us, but by bringing their own unique perspectives and innovative ideas to the table.

Past TBB members exploring their local watershed.

As a result, I Love A Clean San Diego is pleased to unveil a new and exciting part of our organization called the Student Impact Committee (SIC). This committee is designed to bridge the connection between youth and professionals in the environmental sector through shared guidance. SIC members will lend their voice to shaping the future of ILACSD and give us their opinions, suggestions, and innovations on how we can best serve the county. In return, members will receive mentorship, career exploration, real world experience with a progressive organization, future support, leadership skills, and much more from ILCASD and our staff.

High school students of any age are welcome to apply for ILACSD’s Student Impact Committee.

Any high school student in San Diego County is welcome to apply for the Student Impact Committee. Ideal candidates would have an interest in the environment and a desire to become more civically engaged. SIC offers a unique opportunity for eco-conscious students across the county to connect, support, and learn from one another through quarterly meetings. These students will also be able to create real change in their communities while developing skills that will benefit them in their academic and professional life.

SIC can help members create meaningful connections with like-minded peers!

High school students from all across the San Diego County can apply to serve on the Student Impact Committee to advise ILACSD on the perspectives of the rising generation. We have created meaningful, quality, and engaging projects for the students to grow their involvement, skills, and eco-friendliness.  We are currently accepting applications through Monday, January 29th, for our pilot SIC that runs this spring (February – June). ILACSD plans to expand to a full committee of 10 students in the fall of this year. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in applying for the Student Impact Committee, please email Katie Shea at kshea@cleansd.org.

San Diego Schools Step Up Their Recycling

At I Love A Clean San Diego, we work to lead and inspire our community to actively conserve and enhance the environment so that our children can enjoy this beautiful region for future generations to come. That’s why we believe in engaging with local schools to instill in them environmental values and habits at an early age.

Did you know that the average elementary school student drinks 133 servings of milk or juice per year? For the average elementary school, that means students consume approximately 75,000 carton beverages per year – that means more than 6 billion cartons are consumed in schools every year!

With carton recycling now available in over 60% of the country, including San Diego, we want to spread the word that you can recycle your cartons and help everyone improve their recycling habits.

Congratulations to Teirrasanta and Cherokee Point Elementary schools for leading by example. Take a look at the great work they’ve already done:

Tierrasanta Elementary won the San Diego Unified School District’s Most-Improved Recycling Award for 2016-17 by boosting their recycling diversion from 10% to 25% (by weight) over the course of just one school year. Through increased classroom recycling efforts as well as lunchtime recycling of cartons, lunch trays, and other recyclables, Tierrasanta students were able to reduce trash service, dramatically improve recycling rates, and save the school money.

Tierrasanta students use a helpful recycling station set up to stay mindful of what goes where when lunchtime ends!

Diverting 95% of all lunchtime waste is an extraordinary feat, and that’s exactly what Cherokee Point Elementary of San Diego Unified School District accomplished last school year. Students and staff joined together to ensure liquids, cartons, lunch trays, and food scraps were kept out of the trash and out of our landfills. The school’s Green Team students encouraged other students to properly sort their waste and take on litter pickup to keep campus clean.

Cherokee Point Elementary’s Green Team helped students sort their garbage leading to a 95% diversion of lunchtime waste!

School recycling programs not only encourage children to learn about the importance of recycling, but they also enable communities to recover large quantities of valuable materials, like beverage cartons. To start or enhance carton recycling efforts at your or your child’s school in San Diego, visit cartonopportunities.org. Our partner, Carton Council, has created materials specifically to help parents, teachers, and administrators get started.

Zero Waste Parenting: Back to School

As anyone with kids knows, parenthood isn’t always easy. Add in the decision of leading a zero waste lifestyle and it can seem next to impossible. However, being a zero waste parent is not as far-fetched as it might seem. We’ve tackled a few zero waste parenting ideas in the past. And yes, it can take a bit more effort at first, but the small steps you take now will set your children up for a brighter and cleaner future! With that in mind, let’s get into our next zero waste parenting adventure and head back to school!

Go green with your Back to School routine!

Back to School season instantly conjures up ideas of supply lists and packing school lunches. Those ideas are usually accompanied by images of wasteful wrapping, plastic cutlery and sandwich bags, and a graveyard of old school supplies buried in some closet. With a few quick swaps on your supply list and ditching those single use items, greening up your Back to School routine can be much simpler than you would ever imagine.

Reduce, Reuse, or Repair:

When reviewing your new classroom needs for your kids, our first suggestion when it comes to zero waste habits is to reduce, reuse, or repair first. Is that lunch box from last year still in good condition? Can the scissors from years past be utilized again? If supplies from previous years are still usable, you should definitely reuse them! Make your supplies stand the test of time by opting for more classic designs. If you have simple prints and colors for lunchboxes and backpacks, there is less need to replace them year after year. If you have some broken items previous, try to repair them before you replace!

While you may not be able to utilize last year’s supplies every time, there is still the option to invest in reusable supplies going forward. This is especially important when it comes to school lunches. With a few extra minutes a day, you can make every school lunch much more sustainable. Swapping any single use item is a simple rule of thumb – switch from plastic sandwich bags to beeswax wraps or reusable snack bags, opt for a reusable utensil option over plastic cutlery, and ditch your single use plastic water bottles and grab a refillable alternative!

Invest in reusable lunch time alternatives! Don’t forget your reusable lunch bag!

Lunch isn’t the only time you can find sustainable alternatives! Check out the Everlast Rocket Book, a smart notebook that allows you to catalog your notes online. Once you use the notebook, you’re able to upload your notes, effortlessly clean off the book, and reuse the same notebook over and over!

Repurpose, Donate, or Recycle:

When you’ve exhausted your ability to reduce your single use items, repair broken supplies, and reuse anything you can, our next zero waste step on the list is to repurpose, donate, or recycle. Thrift stores are always a great option for Back to School shopping. There is also ample opportunity to donate and recycle your kids’ old supplies. One of the best parts of going zero waste is finding all of the organizations that are trying to make it as easy as possible. Crayola runs a Colorcycle program collecting and recycling old Crayola markers. Old binders of any brand can be donated to Office Depot for a recycling program they’re running in partnership with TerraCycle. You can also save $2 on a new binder when you donate an old one!

Follow these 4 steps from Crayola’s website to be an Eco-Cool School!

There are plenty of ways to go green even during the Back to School madness. With a little extra time, this whole zero parenting thing isn’t really all that difficultwell, no more difficult than parenting in general.

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.