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. ♥

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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.

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.

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:

Kitchen

Bathroom

Garage

Cooking Oil

Shaving Cream Gardening Chemicals

Whipped Cream

Hair Spray

Spray Paint

Cleaning Products

Dry Shampoo

Auto Maintenance
Products

 Air Freshener

Sunscreen

Insect Repellants

Deodorant

Shower/Toilet
Cleaners

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 WasteFreeSD.org 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:

Participate!

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!

Educate!

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!

Celebrate!

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!

Donate!

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 WasteFreeSD.org ). When you want to recycle the collected e-waste, simply use the search bar on WasteFreeSD.org 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 WasteFreeSD.org 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 WasteFreeSD.org or register for an upcoming workshop.