Saving Summertime Celebrations from Litter with the Clean Beach Coalition

One of the best ways people choose to spend their holiday weekends is on the beach — especially in sunny San Diego. With Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day coming up, families and friends will flock to the coast to celebrate their long weekends. In response to the influx of locals and tourists, ILACSD and the San Diego Clean Beach Coalition (SDCBC) will place 200 temporary trash and recycling bins along some of the city’s busiest beaches to reduce the amount of beach and marine litter.

A Clean Beach Coalition recycling bins set out for the Fourth of July last summer!

Over the past decade, SDCBC has kept 3.5 million pounds of trash off the beach and out of the ocean. This past year, over 61,000 pounds of debris were collected during the summer holiday weekends. With the support of Think Blue San Diego, PB Shore ClubFreePB, and more, SDCBC aims to educate beachgoers about the benefits of swapping reusable alternatives for single-use products.

How can you make the most out of your holiday weekends while staying sustainable? SDCBC recommends that visitors bring hard plastic coolers, refillable water bottles, and food storage containers to reduce the amount of disposables items brought to the beach. Avoid bringing plastic straws and utensils! And make sure all recyclables are clean, dry, and empty. Spend less time worrying about your waste by visiting our zero waste database, WasteFreeSD.org, for everything you need to know about reusable options!

Summer can stay sustainable by simply packing reusable options when preparing to head to the beach!

In fact, your only worry while basking in the sun at the beach should be when to reapply sunscreen. That is why SDCBC’s goal is to ensure that the safety of the community and the ecosystem is not compromised by the impact of litter. With these easily accessible CBC bins, visitors are able to responsibly throw away and recycle their waste while still enjoying their vacations. Even at the most crowded beaches, people will still be able to enjoy the sun, sand, and the ocean in San Diego!

Not planning to hit the beach for the holidays? No worries! You can still party with a purpose while you celebrate this summer! A picture is all it takes to support ILACSD as the local Keep America Beautiful affiliate. With Absolut Vodka’s new Absolut America campaign, for every photo submitted through the site, $1 will be donated to Keep America Beautiful or another selected charity. After submitting your photo, you can share the decked out picture on social media to show how easy it is to support ILACSD and Keep America Beautiful all summer while you #PartyWithAPurpose with #AbsolutAmerica.

Support Keep America Beautiful and its affiliates by submitting a photo of how you party with a purpose to Absolut America!

With the Clean Beach Coalition and Absolut America, it is simple to #DoBeautifulThings. Just by recognizing the impact that waste has on water ecosystems, San Diegans are better prepared to act wisely when it comes to waste, especially during the summer holidays. For more information about the Clean Beach Coalition, make sure to visit CleanBeachCoalition.org.

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The Low Down on Recycling Lithium Ion Batteries

Big news out of San Diego recently hit the recycling world. Zheng Chen, an assistant professor and nano-engineer from UCSD has developed a new method to recycle lithium-ion batteries. More specifically, according to a report by the San Diego Union Tribune, “He has developed a way to recycle used cathodes from spent lithium-ion batteries and restore them to the point that they work as good as new.” Considering those cathodes contain cobalt, a rare earth metal with a finite supply, this type of recycling has a momentous impact on the future of the tech world, most notably electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries that use rare earth metals like cobalt that have a finite supply.

So what does this mean for you? Well, maybe you saw an article headline and figured you can start tossing your lithium-ion batteries into your blue bin (false!). Or maybe you’re confused because you thought you already recycled all of your batteries. While the energy in the battery itself may not be reusable (at a large scale just yet), the materials themselves are 100% recyclable. With lithium-ion batteries powering many cell phones, laptops, power tools, and other electronics, it is likely we all have a few of these floating around our home. However, according to Chen, less than 3% of lithium-ion batteries around the world are recycled. For that reason, it’s important for us all to have accurate information on the proper way to handle these batteries at the end of their lifespan. We enlisted our friends over at Universal Waste Disposal Company to help us give you the low down on recycling lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable.

Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable, but even rechargeable batteries have a lifespan. Once a lithium-ion battery is completely spent or degraded, it should be properly stored until it is able to be recycled. While you cannot simply recycle these in your blue bin, according to California Law (AB1125)  most retailers that sell rechargeable batteries are required to accept and recycle these consumer batteries. If you prefer a drop off option, you can check with local retailers to find one that accepts lithium-ion batteries. For pick up recycling services, businesses like UWDC specialize in universal waste recycling.

Until you are able to recycle your lithium-ion batteries, it is extremely important to store them properly. You’ve probably heard stories of cell phones exploding or catching fire. This is related to the battery within the phone. When lithium-ion batteries “catch fire” or “explode” they are experiencing thermal runaway. Thermal runaway is essentially a chemical reaction inside the battery producing heat that causes additional chemical reactions that result in increasing heat until there is nothing left to react. So be very cautious if your device begins smoking, sizzling or popping. Stay alert! Lithium-ion battery packs typically contain several cells. If your device does catch fire, even though one cell may be extinguished, the residual heat may cause thermal runaway in the adjacent cells.

The number of lithium-ion batteries that are recycled is very low since they are housed inside of many devices. The batteries commonly remain in our homes when the old device gets tucked away in a drawer or storage space.

 

Thermal runaway can be the result of design flaws (inadequate venting, poor chemistry, inadequate safety features), user damage (dropping, crushing, puncturing), improper packaging or storage, or improper charging (wrong charger, cheap chargers, overcharging). To prevent thermal runaway, proper care and storage are key. While the battery is still in use, keep them out of the heat and freezing temperatures, use the charger that came with the lithium-ion powered device, keep them dry, and avoid overcharging them. When your batteries are at the end of their life, make sure to store them at room temperature. Tape over the terminals so that they do not make contact with each other. 

The future of the environment is our responsibility and in this case, it’s the law. Batteries of all types must be recycled. Please be sure to locate an authorized battery recycler in your area to properly recycle your used batteries.

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!

The Right Way to Recycle: Hard Drives and their Confidential Contents

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! With seemingly constant changes to the items that can or cannot go into a blue bin, residents are often left feeling a little confused. Today, let’s take a moment to talk about the right way to deal with an electronic waste item that might cause some confusion: hard drives!

Inside every computer is a hard drive containing important, often sensitive information.

As many individuals and businesses understand, hard drives house loads of confidential and sensitive information. While it is very important to recycle or donate our e-waste items like computers, it can be frightening to think of our important, private information ending up in the wrong hands. Luckily, there is an option to help you responsibly recycle your e-waste items and securely destroy your data all at once: hard drive shredding!

Our friends over at Universal Waste Disposal Company offer this data destruction service through their Black Belt Data Destruction program. Black Belt Data Destruction is a mail-in hard drive shredding service developed specifically for small businesses, large corporations, government entities, AND everyday consumers. They offer various pricing options for this recycling service dependent on your personal needs and even offer bulk discounts.

Hard drive shredding destroys your confidential information and allows the scrap metal to be recycled!

 

How It Works:

When you purchase a Black Belt Data Destruction Kit, your old hard drive can be mailed-in using the provided tamper-proof sealed envelope. Once discretely packaged hard drives arrive, they are destroyed using state-of-the-art shredding technology to cut hard drives into tiny pieces recognized only as scrap metal and circuit board.

To ensure your sensitive data is properly destroyed, each kit comes standard with Certificate of Destruction and an encrypted video recording detailing the process from start to finish. With the Premium HDD Kit, you can even join a private live feed at the time of your choosing to watch as it takes place. The entire process lasts 2-3 minutes.

A Safe and Sustainable Solution

Whether you’re an individual or you run the IT department at a business, it is natural to want a sense of security when it comes to our confidential information. Hard drive shredding services like Black Belt Data Destruction can offer that peace of mind. On top of that, by utilizing this service, scrap metal is able to be recovered and recycled to help cut down on the demand for virgin materials. With the high demand and production of electronics, we are constantly seeing innovative ways to reuse, reduce, and recycle our e-waste. With hard drive shredding, we can responsibly recycle e-waste with confidence that our privacy is being protected!

Rethink Recycling That Same Old Date

Valentine’s Day…it’s almost here! For some of you, that could mean absolutely nothing (shout out to all of my sustainable singles – I’m happy to be in good company). But for those of you who find yourself coupled up this February, it can be a struggle to celebrate your sweetheart with a holiday that often seems to focus on consumerism and neglect conservation. As an organization that has love in our title, we’re here to help you with some ideas on how to show love to your special someone and San Diego’s environment without the added waste!

Let’s be real, dates can be a little monotonous. As a single, 20-something, I have personally been on a countless amount of dates that, aside from the person I was with, were completely interchangeable. For me, it was the dates where we did something just a little creative and normally pretty simple that I always recall. Here are a few of my personal favorites that might inspire you to change up the usual dinner and a movie with a box of chocolate and flowers.

Hammock Hangouts

Once, a date surprised me with a sweet little hang session…and I do mean hang. After setting up a hammock at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, we talked, relaxed, and enjoyed the sunset at one of my favorite spots in San Diego. With all of the scenic spots around San Diego, you have a vast amount of options to explore and enjoy with your date.

Share a sunset view with someone special.

Blanket, Basket, and your Babe

If you’re not into the hammock and hangout idea, grab a blanket and a basket instead. When my date filled up a basket with delicious snacks and all the necessary reusable items for a picnic, I was amazed. Is it just me or does throwing down a blanket at Kate Sessions Park beat any table you could be sat at in a restaurant?

Prep your picnic with reusable items for a sustainable outing with your significant other.

Cook as a Couple

While dining out is the popular go-to for dates, I still prefer the night my date and I stayed in to cook a homemade meal together. Whether you prefer to prepare a meal for your partner or cook as a couple, the experience is one you won’t forget. Don’t forget to plan your menu in advance so you can buy any ingredients in bulk and avoid excess packaging.

Cleanup with your Cutie

Want to drastically change up your idea of a perfect date? Show your date you care by creating a cleaner community to enjoy together. Sign up to volunteer with your sweetheart for a Saturday filled with sunshine and sustainability. Head into Valentine’s Day with full hearts from eco-friendly experiences, and join us for the Cupid’s Cleanup on Saturday, February 10th at 10:00 AM in Ocean Beach at Robb Field. Celebrate after the cleanup at Mike Hess Tasting Room. As a thank you to those who participate in the cleanup, Mike Hess will be running a special for all volunteers offering beers for only $5 each!

Volunteer with your Valentine at ILACSD’s Cupid’s Cleanup on February 10th.

No matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, just remember, we only have one planet to love. Let’s make sure we treat it right. ♥

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: Polystyrene Foam

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 an item that has had a few recent changes to it around the county…Polystyrene foam.

First off, what is polystyrene foam? Polystyrene foam materials are often (mistakenly) referred to as Styrofoam.  Examples of foam include foam cups, food containers, egg or meat trays, as well as large molded blocks used to package electronics, such as TVs and computers. These foam materials are not only recyclable, but once they are properly processed, the material can be turned into other products such as decorative baseboards, picture frames, and pencils.

Foam Recycling by Territory:

City of San Diego:
Many communities throughout the region have been able to place some polystyrene material (block packaging) in recycling bins. As of July 1, 2017, Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the entire City Council voted to expand foam recycling capabilities to include all foam food and drink containers to be recycled in residential curbside recycling bins as well. This means that citizens in the City of San Diego that have residential curbside recycling can recycle – with ease and convenience – even more materials.

City of SD residents can recycle food service foam containers in their curbside blue bin.

 

County of San Diego – Unincorporated Areas:
As of now, San Diego residents living in unincorporated areas can easily recycle the block foam from product packaging in their curbside recycling. Recycling foam food containers, cups, trays, etc. for unincorporated residents can vary depending on the waste hauler. Residents who are unsure can contact their specific hauler to confirm if they accept these items.

Solana Beach and Encinitas:
A few cities around the region have increased regulations for Polystyrene foam, but what does that mean for recycling? In Solana Beach and Encinitas, you won’t find Polystyrene foam to-go containers or cups around shops and restaurants, and waste haulers in these areas do not accept foam food service containers in curbside recycling. However, foam packaging blocks are still accepted in your blue bin in these cities.

Foam Recycling by Type:

Foam Cups and Food Service Containers:
Once you’ve confirmed that foam cup and food service containers are accepted in curbside blue bins where you live, recycling them is a breeze. Just like other recyclable food packaging, foam food containers just need to be wiped of food residue and can be placed on your curbside receptacle.

Foam packaging blocks are accepted in curbside recycling bins throughout all of San Diego County.

 

Foam Packaging Blocks:
Foam packaging blocks might be the easiest polystyrene product to recycle across the board. These foam blocks are accepted in curbside recycling bins throughout all of San Diego County!

Foam Packing Peanuts:
Packing peanuts can be made from a variety of materials and contaminate the recycled Polystyrene foam. Due to this fact, packing peanuts are not recyclable. The best way to divert foam packing peanuts from the landfill is to reuse them or donate them for reuse. Many local pack and ship stores gladly accept foam packing peanuts free of charge. Use the WasteFreeSD.org search bar to find a nearby shipping store to donate unwanted packing supplies.

Packing Peanuts are not recyclable. Reuse or donate your packing peanuts to a local shipping store. 

 

Traditionally, there were just a few items that could be recycled curbside such as newspapers, aluminum cans, and some bottles. However, as a result of millions of dollars in R&D from manufacturers and innovative problem-solvers, today we are able to recycle more types of material than ever before. This is exciting as recycling is allowing us to reduce waste in our landfills that will benefit our children and future generations as we work to maintain our beautiful community.