Preventing Food Waste in an Instagram Foodie Culture

Open your Instagram account and click on the explore page, it won’t take too long for most of us to find images of vibrant, crunchy, creamy, steamy, buttered, drizzled, crystalized, smoky, aged, boiled, briny, cheesy, absolutely delightful images of what is on their plate! These days, foodie culture dominates social feeds. The farm to table movement is bigger than ever. We have never been so in tune and in love with what we are eating until now.

Documenting meals for online followers is a normal habit for foodies.

So with that, let’s imagine you just spent all afternoon preparing a pie for dinner guests. You’re are so pleased with the steaming, flaky pie that sits on the counter in front of you. It’s so aromatic and intense that you can recognize each type of fruit in the medley that is making your senses come alive! You cut it into 10 slices, making sure each one is piled high with perfectly candied pastry dough. You are almost ready to serve it to your guests, but before you even unveil it at the dinner table, before you even leave the kitchen, you scrape 4 pieces of pie directly into the garbage. It hits the trash can with a miserable thud, the amber colored gelatin is sliding down the plastic bag and the slices look more like your cat’s food than a guest-worthy dessert. While this might seem like an insane thing to do, it is a realistic picture of the amount of food being wasted in our society.

Sorry, what was I talking about? I am only thinking about pie now…

In the United States, 40% of food goes uneaten. The average Californian throws away 24 pounds of food a month. How can it be that in a time when we are so infatuated with our food, that we are wasting so much? Food waste occurs at many levels – at the farm, at the store, in our fridges, and off our plates. Farmers who grow produce that is considered too ugly, too small, too large, too uneven, or a little colorless are pushed out of the marketplace due to the retailer’s demand for consistency. Food is also lost in transportation. Food spoils in the store and in our refrigerators, but it’s not just food we are discarding without a second thought. We are squandering all of the resources that go into the production and distribution of food! Nationally, 80% of our water, 10% of our energy, and 40% of our land is utilized to grow our food. Despite all of the resources we put into the production of food, it is the leading material in our landfills! In the Miramar Landfill, 40% of the total waste is organic material that could have been mulched, composted, fed to animals, or in some cases, fed to people.

Realizing all of your food doesn’t have to be picture perfect is an easy way to prevent food from going to waste.

Our food systems are not perfect, but together each and every one of us can take a stand against food waste. Even small adjustments to our behavior can create impactful change! Here are a few simple suggestions to help you get started or continue your food waste prevention:

Shop Smart

  • Be prepared: create a shopping list with menus in mind to avoid impulse buys
  • Set a time frame: this gives you less time to buy things not on your prepared list
  • Know what you need: keep stock of what you have at home, note items as they run out to help create your shopping list
  • Be realistic: if you live alone or only need one carrot for a recipe, don’t buy a whole bag
  • Bulk is better: buying in bulk requires a little forethought and planning but is definitely worth it
  • Cut your costs: if you crunch the numbers, bulk purchases typically cost less per unit

Sensible Storage to Slow Spoiling

  • Practice first in, first out habits: move older products to the front of the fridge and stock unopened newer items in the back
  • Monitor what you throw away: throwing away half a loaf every week? Start freezing it.
  • Dates, not deadlines: know that expiration, best by, sell by, and use by dates, are not an exact science but merely manufacture suggestions
  • Leave a little room: don’t overcrowd your fridge, the air needs to circulate
  • Figure out your fridge’s compartments: your fridge has a crisper for a reason and the fridge door is warmer than the shelves
  • If you don’t know, ask: utilize the Alexa Save the Food skill to ask where and how you should store your items while unpacking groceries (like storing your asparagus cilantro, celery, carrots in water to make them last longer)

Creative Cooking

  • Use it up nights: designate one evening a week to focus on using up open items in your fridge
  • No tops or stems left behind: use every part of the produce you can – broccoli stems, beet tops, carrot tops, leave the skin on cucumbers, blend your smoothie with strawberry leaves on
  • Wilted doesn’t have to mean wasted: use your food up, wilted veggies can go into a stir-fry or soup, bruised fruit can be added to a smoothie or applesauce, old cheese rinds can make soups, juice pulp can be utilized numerous ways (bread, guacamole, power bites bars)

Serving, Snacking, and Sensing Satiation

  • Avoid over ordering: if you’re often ordering too much food, try splitting a meal with a friend or ordering smaller portions when out
  • Know your limit: don’t feel guilty if you don’t clean your plate as long as you save and store whatever is remaining
  • Leftovers tonight means lunch tomorrow: take your leftovers home or save anything you cooked but couldn’t finish (don’t forget your reusable containers for leftovers)
  • Smaller plate, smaller portions: we often over serve ourselves because the plate has room – a smaller plate can help you decrease the amount you dish up

Now go enjoy your food and extend its shelf life!


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

3 Cost Cutting, Energy Saving Habits

Did you know January 10th is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day? Honestly, neither did we! But who is going to knock one of those seemingly arbitrary celebration days when it can actually bring about some good? Not us! So let’s use this opportunity to take a closer look at how you can cut your energy cost and your carbon emission at the same time! By practicing these minor changes to your daily routine, you can easily decrease your energy usage with minimal effort!

Kids decorate light switch covers with energy saving reminders!

Flip the Switch:

Let’s be real, this one is simple and easy! Just switching off the lights in a room as you leave it can save lots of energy for your household. Who are you leaving the lights on for anyway? If the room is empty, it can be dark. We had children decorate light switch covers at our Zero Waste 101 Workshops that serve as a helpful reminder to turn off the light. Try this activity at home if you’d like or leave yourself a simple reminder note. It can be easy to build habits by relearning our behavior. The more you practice, the easier these habits will become!

Helpful hints:
  • Having trouble remembering to turn off the lights? Consider installing sensor or timer controlled lights in your home!
  • Switch to energy-efficient LED light bulbs to help decrease your usage.

    Save more energy by using LED light bulbs in your home!

Power Down and Unplug:

Lights aren’t the only thing you can turn off to save energy. Think about all those appliances or chargers you have plugged in around your home and how much energy they are sucking up. That’s exactly why this type of usage is referred to as “vampire energy.” Conserve energy by unplugging “vampire energy” appliances when not in use. While you might think these plugged in items might not be making a giant difference, when you consider your phone chargers, laptop chargers, TV, coffee maker, and microwave, the average household wastes about $165 a year! Make sure to unplug those items whenever they are not in use, and you can start to watch your energy savings add up in the long run!

Helpful hints:
  • Always unplug chargers when they are not in use or connected to your device!
  • Use a power strip for multiple appliances in the same area. Switch the power strip off to control multiple appliances that would normally suck up energy.

    Why waste water or energy? Wait until you have a full load to run the washer!

Wash Wisely:

Still running your washing machine and dishwasher when it’s only half full? That not only wastes water but energy too! Make a habit of waiting until you have a full load to wash before you run your washing machine or dishwasher. It doesn’t stop there with the clothes. Using a clothes dryer eats up a ton of energy! Living in sunny San Diego gives us much more opportunity to line dry our clothes year round. If you have the options and space, consider switching to line drying your clothes (this also helps extend the life of your clothes and keep them out of landfills).

Helpful hints:
  • Consider investing in energy efficient washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers.
  • Make sure you give yourself enough time after washing your clothes and line dry them!
  • Always wait until you have a full load before you run a washing machine or dishwasher!

    Embrace another perk of living in sunny San Diego and consider letting your clothes air dry on the line!

If these ideas seem commonplace to you, great! You’ve probably instilled these habits into your normal behavior. But help spread the knowledge so your friends and family can save some energy and even some money! I mean, how else were you going to celebrate Cut Your Energy Cost Day?

The Right Way to Recycle: Aerosol Cans

As many of us at ILACSD know, one of the biggest barriers to getting folks to recycle is a lack of education on what is recyclable and how easy it can be! What might seem like constant changes to the items that can or cannot go into a blue bin often leave residents feeling a little confused. So today, let’s take a moment to talk about the right way to recycle a common household item… aerosol cans!

Open one of the cabinets in your kitchen, bathroom, or garage and chances are you’ll find an aerosol can. Though hairspray might be the first thing to pop into your head when you think of aerosols (I can’t be the only one picturing big 80s hair and an Aqua Net can?), the list of products that come in aerosol form is quite extensive. Here are just a few examples of products that are contained within the cylinder walls of an aerosol can:




Cooking Oil

Shaving Cream Gardening Chemicals

Whipped Cream

Hair Spray

Spray Paint

Cleaning Products

Dry Shampoo

Auto Maintenance

 Air Freshener


Insect Repellants



Aerosol containers are composed of steel and aluminum. Steel is very similar to aluminum when it comes to its sustainable recycling capabilities according to our friends at Ball Corporation. You can check out our post on can growlers where we reviewed the benefits of materials like steel and aluminum for packaging. Because of its composition, aerosol cans are begging to be recycled. So how do you recycle them?

Well, when recycling an aerosol can, you first need to answer the question: “Is it completely empty?”

If you answered yes:

Awesome! Way to be aware of your needs, use up your products completely, and create less waste. Still, it is important that ensure that aerosol cans are completely empty. A quick way to be certain that the can is empty is to listen closely. Give the can a shake or spray (listen for any remaining fluid inside and verify that the product is no longer coming out of the nozzle). Once you know the can is empty, you can toss it in your blue bin for curbside recycling! No other steps are necessary. Make sure you never puncture aerosol can as it can be dangerous. There is no need to remove the nozzle before placing it in your recycling bin.

If you answered no:

Aerosol cans that still contain fluids are considered hazardous waste. You can still recycle these cans though! First, try offering the remaining contents to a friend or neighbor who might want it. Put the item on your local “Buy Nothing” page or see if it is able to be donated (unused spray paint can be donated Habitat for Humanity if it is in good enough condition). If you cannot donate or give the remaining product, you’ll want to treat it like any other household hazardous waste. Use the search bar on to find the closest location for recycling your hazardous waste.

So that’s it! Empty aerosol cans go directly in your blue bin to be recycled. Be sure to only buy as much of a product as you need and use it until it is depleted. Not only will that help you waste less, but it will make your recycling as easy as can be!

Give More Love and Less Waste This Holiday Season

The holidays have officially arrived! It’s time to spend some quality time with the people we love and reflect upon all the things in our life that give us a reason to be thankful. With all that you’ve helped us accomplished so far this year, we have a lot to be thankful for in our offices! We’re thankful for dedicated volunteers who continually show up cleanup after cleanup and never let their passion for our planet fade. We’re thankful for beautifully clean beaches, litter-free landscapes, and healthy habitats. We’re thankful to be serving a cause that is so near and dear to all of uscreating a zero waste, litter-free, and environmentally engaged San Diego region.

We’re also thankful to know we’ve got supporters like you to help us do even more for our communities moving forward. There are several ways in which you can help support ILACSD this holiday season:


In our offices, we’re beyond thankful to all of our volunteers! Each and every one of you makes the work we do possible. While our volunteers have already made such a huge impact on San Diego, there is still work left to do. If you have time off for the holidays, use that opportunity to register for one of our final cleanups or workshops before the New Year and help end the year standing stronger than ever for a clean San Diego!

Spread some joy by introducing your loved ones to your love of volunteering!


Spending time with your loved ones over the holidays? Share with your friends and family what you’re thankful for this year, like your ability to make a difference for the environment and your community! Invite those special people in your life to join you at a cleanup or zero waste workshop to learn more about ILACSD. Or talk to them about how we can all take small steps to positively impact our planet – like by reducing our food waste! If you host dinner, consider supplying your guests with reusable containers for leftovers with a little environmental love note!


Holiday festivities go hand in hand with gift giving. While we all understand that consumerism isn’t the best for our environment, there are ways we can be eco-friendly with our gift exchange. Give the gift of going plastic free with reusable alternatives to single use items. Check out the ILACSD online store for reusable water bottles, straws, sporks, cups, and totes! Not only do these items make terrific holiday gifts or stocking stuffers, your purchases directly help our environment by providing the necessary resources needed to host our 250+ cleanups throughout the county in 2018. Oh, and don’t forget that a cloth napkin can make for an awesome alternative to wrapping paper (this helps decrease the 2 million tons of wrapping paper that will end up in a landfill this year)!

Cloth napkins make a great gift AND gift wrap so you can skip the wasteful wrapping paper!


Are you considering making a financial gift this season to support environmental classroom education, community cleanups, and recycling resources? There is no better time than #GivingTuesday! #GivingTuesday is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the causes we care about online while sharing the stories of why they matter. Make a difference on Tuesday, November 28th by making a #GivingTuesday contribution to ILACSD. Your gift makes a tremendous difference, no matter the size! And don’t miss the opportunity to share your support on social media with an “UN-selfie.” We want to hear why a healthy environment is important to you so tag @ILoveACleanSD on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram and use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #ILACSD.

Whatever way you choose to celebrate this season, the ILACSD team wishes you a very safe, happy, and clean holiday!


Three Easy Actions to Take for a Greener Office on America Recycles Day

Today is the 10th annual America Recycles Day a nationally recognized day and an initiative by Keep America Beautiful that promotes ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in our everyday lives. America Recycles Day is dedicated to the individual actions that people can take that create a collective difference for our environment! Having normal “blue bin” style recycling in the office is an awesome start, but let’s take a look at some other ways to boost your recycling program (if you don’t have a recycling program in place, check out our previous blog post that can help you get one started). Here are three easy ways you can enhance your workplace recycling in celebration of America Recycles Day.

Deal with the Graveyard of Dead Electronics: Recycle Electronics

Electronics are all around us, especially in a workplace. So what happens to all of those electronics when they kick the bucket? Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, should be properly recycled with a certified e-waste recycling company. Printers, computers, laptops, fax machines, phones (yes, most offices have landlines) can all be taken to a recycling location or a temporary collection event. Some businesses even offer to pick these items up from your workplace. Start by designating a spot in your workplace to collect electronics that are no longer working and can no longer be repaired (you can search for repair options on ). When you want to recycle the collected e-waste, simply use the search bar on by typing in a specific item, “E-waste Collection Event”, or “Electronic Waste Pick-up”.

Make sure everyone in the office knows where to drop off any electronic waste to be recycled.

Donate Before Ditching: Give Unwanted Office Supplies and Furniture to a Thrift Store

Does your workplace have way too many paper trays or stockpiles of old binders? Did your office go through a remodel and now has a bunch of outdated office decor? Don’t toss these items! Give your supplies and furniture a shot at finding a new home by donating them to a thrift store. Start by letting your colleagues know about the collection of unwanted office supplies, where they should drop off their unwanted supplies, and give them the opportunity to grab something they might need from the collection before it’s donated. Head over to to search “Thrift Stores” if you don’t know your nearest one. You can even find a local thrift store or organization that specializes in just second-hand furniture if you recently upgraded your office furniture.

Recent workplace renovations? Donate your unwanted office furniture or supplies to a nearby thrift store!

Stop Wasting Half the Paper Supply: Print Double-sided

A staple in almost any office is a large industrial printer. And chances are your office goes through a ton of paper. Remember to recycle that paper first off! Ensure that each cubicle, office, and room has a recycling bin and clear signage indicating the types of items that should be placed in it. But there is also another option to cut down on wasted paper: printing double-sided. Change your printer’s default setting to printing on both sides to reduce the amount of paper used. Another option is to have a pile of “previously printed on paper” that has an unused side. Utilize paper from this pile to manually feed into your printer for one-sided print jobs or for scratch paper!

Set those printer default settings to print on both sides of the paper!

Keep Up the Recycling Momentum

Don’t let your recycling efforts fade after America Recycles Day ends. Keep the conversation going! Each workplace should have a designated recycling champion…that can be you! Kindly remind your co-workers about recycling guidelines, reward anyone you catch “green-handed” (recycling correctly or contributing to the donation pile), and celebrate your workplace achievements with all of the staff. Don’t wait until the next America Recycles Day to implement a new practice and remember to provide your team with resources that make recycling crystal clear.

For more information regarding recycling, visit the Resources Page at or register for an upcoming workshop.

Coming Together for a Cleaner San Diego

Volunteers power all of our cleanups, like our two annual countywide cleanups, Creek to Bay and Coastal Cleanup Day.

As the days cool down, the chill in the air hints at the year coming to a close soon. At ILACSD, we are taking this time to reflect on yet another successful year working to keep our community clean and safe for everyone alongside a dedicated, committed team of volunteers, sponsors, and donors. Thanks to your generous support in the form of time, energy, and financial gifts, together we have accomplished some incredible things this past year.

In 2017, YOU came together with I Love A Clean San Diego to accomplish incredible feats. Together in 2017 we:

Removed 400,000 lbs of litter | Mobilized 32,000 volunteers | Educated 28,000 students

These are just a few of the tremendous outcomes we have carried out together, but that’s not all! As a direct result of your support in 2017, we conducted 265 countywide cleanup events and delivered 650 educational presentations on the importance of caring for the environment (we even managed to have a little fun while we were at it too!). Our efforts will have a lasting impact on future generations. We feel honored to be working alongside you to make our San Diego a place where everyone has the opportunity to revel in our countless majestic outdoor spaces.

Students at our Annual Kids’ Ocean Day love to enjoy the beach while they clean it up!

As we prepare for another year, we ask – will you help us do even more in 2018? Financial gifts to ILACSD ensure that our education, recycling, and community cleanup programs teams are able to reach all parts of San Diego County and provide this important work.

Every donation helps so much!

$50 can equip 25 volunteers at our cleanups with reusable work gloves.
$100 can supply the equipment to clean and beautify one community park.
$250 can provide 50 underserved youth with the transportation needed to participate in Kids’ Ocean Day.

We hope you will help us do even more for the community we all love in 2018! Visit to make your tax-deductible gift today.

Oh, and don’t forget #GivingTuesday is coming up on Tuesday, November 28, 2017! Be sure to follow ILACSD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Share you support on social media with an “UN-selfie” and use the hashtags #GivingTuesday and #ILACSD.