Posts Tagged 'compost'

Food Waste: Impact beyond the Plate

My faceHi I’m Shannon and as one of the marketing interns for ILACSD I am excited to have the opportunity to explore the effects of food waste . My interest in food deserts and the lack of healthy food options in America led me to investigate how food waste affects our community and ways we can prevent it all together.

When I think about wasted food I imagine feeling guilty about leaving those last pieces of broccoli on my plate after dinner, however, food waste is much more serious than wasting a few good veggies. Food waste refers to the massive quantity of quality food that is wasted annually instead of being given to those in need. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “Forty percent of the food produced in the United States never gets eaten.” So what does food waste really do?

Don’t worry there are ways to fight back against food waste!

The San Diego Department of Public Works has some great solutions to help you minimize food waste in the future. They rely upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s food recovery strategy to most efficiently and cost effectively reduce San Diego’s food waste. Based on this hierarchy, San Diego’s DPW established a food waste system based on 3 simple steps: Reduce, Donate and Compost.

Food Recovery Hierachy

To best implement waste reduction in our personal lives the DPW suggests re-considering portion sizes, limiting the number of menu items you order when you go out to eat and planning all the week’s meals so your grocery list only consists of what you need to make those meals. According to the DPW it is important to be conscious of the volume of food you eat in comparison to the volume of food you waste.

Donating leftover food is another great way to reduce food waste! There are a lot of local organizations that lead San Diego’s effort to feed hungry San Diegans. Check out Feeding America and San Diego Food Bank for local options to donate your leftover quality food. Reducing food waste also means giving those without the means to feed themselves the food they need to survive.

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Kids think composting is fun too!

The final step is using spoiled and leftover food for composting in your own backyard or neighborhood! Check out our previous blogs on composting to see how easy and fun it really is.

It’s important to remember that food waste is a serious national issue so let’s work together to help make San Diego even better than it already is and improve the lives of thousands in the process!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Successful Zero Waste Plans IRL

Sam2016 - 131x172Today’s blog comes from our Contracts Manager, Sam, who has been attending several meetings related to San Diego’s Zero Waste Plan, including food recovery and organics recycling. The idea of zero waste can seem daunting or too far-fetched. Read on to learn about other cities that have successfully implemented zero waste practices IRL (in real life) and what San Diegans can do to help reach these waste diversion goals.

As we all know, “Zero Waste” is a hot button word around environmental circles these days. By its definition, Zero Waste is a commitment to diverting at least 90% of all waste away from landfills, and utilizing other means of proper disposal. But what does it look like in practice? How far along are we? What are the challenges? We will take a look at three California cities to see!

Zero Waste Home - Jan 2016 (21)

Repurpose tip: extend the life of common items like glass bottles and jars by transforming them into home decor!

Let’s start with the current big kid on the block in all environmental programs, San Francisco. San Francisco has been among the leading pioneers in the nation for environmental programs, and zero waste is no exception. As a part of their commitment to 90% waste diversion by 2020, San Francisco has implemented composting and green waste recycling pickups at businesses and residences. Along with convenient disposal, San Francisco has also invested in providing the public with educational resources about reducing food waste, consumer and producer responsibility, and the list goes on! When other cities in the U.S. look to a city to replicate good behaviors, San Francisco is a wonderful place to start.

Next, let’s look at Los Angeles. Currently hovering around 75% diversion of waste away from landfills, Los Angeles’s goal is to to achieve a lofty 97% waste diversion by 2030 through SWIRP, which is an acronym for Solid Waste Integrated Resources Plan. LA’s infrastructure will soon follow in the footsteps of San Francisco to ensure that greater tonnages of green waste (yard clippings, food scraps, etc.) and compost can be properly disposed of instead of winding up in a landfill. Along with San Francisco, LA believes educational outreach for both food waste reduction and proper recycling techniques are critical to their long term goals. Looking to achieve 87% diversion by 2020, Los Angeles has made a firm commitment to realizing their ultimate “zero waste” initiative by 2030.

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Practice makes habits! Students practice sorting paper, cans, and food scraps into pretend trash, compost and recycling bins.

Last, but certainly not least, our wonderful home of San Diego. The macro-level goal is to achieve virtually 100% waste diversion by 2040, with yearly increments designed to test the progress. Along with LA, San Diego is playing catch up to San Francisco in regards to the infrastructure required to divert large quantities of green waste. Working with the State recycling agency, CalRecycle, as well as haulers and constituents to ensure the County meets its goals will be required if they hope to reach their goals:

  • 75% by 2020,
  • 90% by 2035
  • “zero” waste by 2040

In order to achieve this, the County will need to divert an additional 332,000 tons to offset the current 67% diversion rate. They hope to do this by encouraging haulers to divert more away from landfills, educate San Diegans, and of course divert more green waste away from landfills. Click here to learn more about San Diego’s Zero Waste plan. 

Sustainable-Living-Series-Summit-flyerIt’s exciting times! Zero Waste is no longer just a dream, but it is now a successful process! And with the process, we can see the evolution towards greener, healthier, and more beautiful communities. I Love A Clean San Diego is doing its part by revamping our comprehensive recycling database, WasteFreeSD.org, to include zero waste tips and tricks to fit any lifestyle.  You can always give us a call at 1-877-R1-EARTH to have any of your recycling questions answered as well.

If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach, our education team hosts community workshops designed to give you real life solutions like choosing reusables, how to shop in bulk, etc. Our next workshop, the Zero Waste Summit, will take place on Saturday, June 11th at Ocean Knoll Farms in Encinitas. Let us know you’re coming by registering ahead of time – Here’s to Zero Waste!

Zero Waste 101

What is zero waste? First, let’s define what zero waste is to better understand how it affects you and what it means for our communities.

Zero waste is the process of eliminating reusable or repairable materials from ending up in the landfill. Zero waste encourages manufacturers, municipalities, and consumers to evaluate current consumption patterns and minimize single-use items. In order to divert materials from the landfill we must share the responsibility of producing and consuming sustainable products while limiting our use of disposable items.

Zero Waste Alternatives

Now that we know what zero waste means, let’s explore why this practice impacts San Diegans. Currently, the Miramar Landfill is composed of reusable substances; yes that is right REUSABLE substances. The top 3 reusable substances in our landfill are:

Organics (food scraps, yard waste) 39%

Construction and Demolition (building materials) 25%

Paper 17%

When we choose to send these items to the landfill, large amounts of methane gas are released which pose serious public and environmental health concerns. On the positive side,  all of this can either be recycled, reused or composted, which means, we can do something about it! ZW blog landfill

In response to the amount of reusable materials in the landfill (or should we say landFULL) the City of San Diego adopted a zero waste plan to focus on reusing rather than disposing items. Currently, the City of San Diego diversion rate has been consistent around 67%. Here is an outline of upcoming benchmarks for the city’s waste diversion plan:

  • 75%  by 2020
  • 90%  2035
  • 100% diversion rate by 2040.

The plan’s primary focus is on organics diversion. There are several resources available to help you reduce food waste through planning and composting. Learn more at by reading about some of our past food waste blogs and WasteFreeSD.org!

Even I Love A Clean San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database is getting a zero waste makeover! Stay tuned for the redesign release of WasteFreeSD.org this summer! The new database will include a easy to use search bar that will help you find convenient ways to divert waste from the landfill!

Standley Middle School Goes Green!

Emily, ILACSD Environmental Educator

Today’s blog comes from our Environmental Educator, Emily! Emily spends most of her time traveling to different schools around San Diego County and teaching students about different ways they can help protect their local environment. Now, schools all around the county are starting to implement more efforts to be green. One shining example of this is the Green Team from Standley Middle School in University City. Today’s blog highlights the inspiring efforts of these students and their advisor. Read on to celebrate their successes and gain ideas for starting a Green Team at a school near you!

Their journey begins in 2013, when Shelley Rannikko and her colleague took a group of students to Yosemite National Park. This trip inspired the students to become eagerly engaged as environmental stewards. As Shelley recalls, “the ten hour road trip was the perfect place to brainstorm about how we could spread the word of recycling at school through a club called ‘Green Team’.”

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In the short time since its inception, the Green Team has made a significant impact on their campus. Here’s a look at how the club is structured, and what they’ve been able to accomplish:

Mission: The purpose of our team is to educate the students and families of Standley Middle School about the importance of recycling and how to accomplish it. The team is in its second year and maintains over 35 members, with more wanting to join every day! They meet during Academic Prep.

Member Responsibilities: Students are given chores that change weekly. Chores include:

  • Bin Placement – bins provided through an Educate! grant
  • Bin Return
  • Garbage Ghosts – using trash pickers, they pull recyclables out of campus trash cans and place them in the recycling bins
  • Radical Rinsers – rinse recyclables, like plastic bowls, lids, and milk cartons
  • Green Team Ambassadors – pass out Green Team Bucks to students using the recycling bins
  • Recycling Engineers – take cleaned items to the recycling dumpster
  • Bottle Brick Makers – pack Gatorade bottles with non-recyclable items; bricks will be used to construct a bench on campus,
bottlebricks

These students are packing bottle bricks, which will ultimately become a bench at their school! Great example of reuse and waste diversion!

Recycling: Since its start in 2013, the Green Team has recycled:

STANDLEY’S STATS ON RECYCLING
Item Pieces or Pounds
Juice Pouches 3370
Go Go Squeezes 474
Chip Bags 2000+
Milk/Juice Cartons 150*
Plastic Bowls, Plastic Containers 200+*
Cans and Bottles 300+ pounds

*Collection started last week

Through the TerraCycling program, the students are able to recycle more than the average blue bin. GoGo Squeezes and Juice Pouches are sent to TerraCycle, where the company pays for shipping and gives money back to non-profit organizations or to a charity of your choice from their website. Check your waste hauler’s requirements, or look into innovative programs like this one!

posterGetting Others Involved: The Green Team has implemented a loyalty recycler card program to encourage students to recycle. Additionally, Green Team Ambassadors walk the quad during lunch, giving out Green Team Bucks for placing recyclables in the appropriate bins. For every six stamps or Green Team Bucks, students can earn an otter pop!

The Green Team creates videos that are shown school-wide during the Principal’s Chat. These videos promote fundraisers, the loyalty recycler card program, membership in the club, and explain what can be recycled on campus. Even Principal Bill Pearson got involved by researching how to reduce paper fliers and informational posters. His solution? Turn existing bulletin boards into chalkboards! A combination of exterior flat paint and unsanded tile grout made this possible, and it brings a bit of character to the quad.chalkboard

Looking Ahead: In addition to the bottle brick bench, the Green Team hopes to combine efforts with the Garden Club to create worm bins and start composting at their school.

If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to contact Shelley Rannikko, the Green Team Advisor, at (619) 920-2183 or srannikko@sandi.net.

 

Related Links for more information:

What is TerraCycle?:  https://www.youtube.com/user/TerraCycleVideos

Drink Pouch Recycling Brigade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vG5CdXhRtrE

Bottle Bricks: http://www.utne.com/environment/eco-bricks-zm0z12ndzlin.aspx

A Rind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Erika-teamToday’s blog comes from our Education Manager, Erika. Earlier this year, Erika took it upon herself to find new ways to reduce the amount of waste she creates each day – she signed up for a composting course! Now that she is on her way to becoming a Master Composter, she wants to share what she has learned in hopes of inspiring you to take a composting course near you! Read on to learn more about how food waste impacts our landfills and how you can become a skilled composter as well! 

A rind is a terrible thing to waste, so do something! Join the Master Composters!

Here at I Love A Clean San Diego, many of my coworkers and I feel strongly about waste reduction. In the past few years, I have seen my own transition from using some disposable items in my life. An example being bringing my stainless steel pint glass to the Adventure Run last week, so that I wouldn’t have to use a disposable plastic cup for that IPA at the end of the race. While I have been able to carry my bamboo cutlery and stainless steel straw around, I noticed that I was still creating quite a bit of waste – food waste. In San Diego, we lead the country in per capita waste, with disposing about 1.3 million pounds in 2012. Of that trash, a 2012-2013 study showed that food represented the most prevalent material composed in our landfill, accounting for 15% of the total waste stream. In residential waste, that percentage increased to 18%. After learning these startling statistics, I realized there is so much more that I can do with regard to waste reduction. So, with waste in my mind, I signed up for a Master Composting class.composting blog - 1 SMW chart - composting blog 2

Hands on learning is always best!

Hands on learning is always best!

Last October, my friend, @girlforaccleanworld, and I joined with a dozen other composting inquirists, skeptics, novices, and enthusiasts to begin our composting journey to potential Mastery. At first, I was quite anxious. I previously had a horrific experience with a vermicompost, resulting in [read quickly] maggots and other vermin. Needless to say, I was apprehensive but determined to further reduce my waste through composting. The great thing about the course is that there is such a great variety in reasons why people compost – from professional development, to reducing waste, to ameliorating compost gone wrong, to education – there were people from all walks of life.
Another great thing about the course is its hands on approach. On the first day, we were already getting our hands dirty, layering greens (food scrapes, grass clippings, etc.) and browns (cardboard, paper, other wood products). Each week, we measured the temperature and moisture of the bin, turned it, and looked for grubs – ok, that might have just been me. I was captivated by how clean everything was and how quickly different items could degrade. While I learned a lot in the class, the take home for me was:
• Anything and everything (natural) will eventually turn to compost, it just is a matter of time.
• You can be active or passive, it will still turn to compost
• Compost does not smell – if it smells, give it a turn, it needs to breath
• Composting doesn’t need a ton of space, especially vermicomposting

Vermicomposting

Since completion, I have been working toward 30 hours community composting service to become an official Master. I have become more conscious of my grocery shopping, as to not buy more than I need, and have been able to help people out with their composting woes. I would highly recommend the class to anyone. For more information visit http://www.thelivingcoast.org/programs/composting-programs/. There is also a 5 week long composting workshop available through the Solana Center that starts on April 11th. For additional information please click here.

Let’s work together to minimize our food waste! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for helpful tips and tricks about how to reduce waste in your life!

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Photo Credit: @girlforaccleanworld. Thanks for allowing us to use these great photos!

 

Eco Holiday Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Emily M.Today’s blog is brought to you by Emily, one of our environmental educators. Emily loves holiday treats (especially her grandma’s jell-o salad), but hates seeing good food go to waste. Keep reading to see how you can reduce the amount of food you throw away.

‘Tis the season for friends, fun, and food.  With all the festivities this time of year, it’s easy for us to be up to our eyeballs in pumpkin spice lattes, turkey sandwich leftovers, and sugar cookies from the grandkids. And with food comes food waste. This holiday season, give a gift to the environment by putting your trash can on a diet.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans throw away up to 40% of the food supply each year, valued at almost $390 per consumer in 2008. That means every year we’re throwing away enough food to constitute at least a month’s worth of groceries. Since food has become so convenient and readily available, many people wonder what the big deal is. What’s wrong with this picture? We are wasting resources – land and water to grow the food, money to purchase it, and time and energy to prepare the finished product. After unwanted food enters our trash cans, it makes a long, diesel-powered journey to the landfill (soon to be the landfull), where it rots, releasing harmful greenhouse gases. About 14.5% of our municipal solid waste is food waste. Fortunately, the solution is within our reach.

Now, before you go all Dr. Brown on us, let’s look at some simple steps you can take today.

  1. Serving size – As this World War II poster reminds us, taking more than we can eat is one of the most common reasons we dispose of food. It’s better to return for seconds than to throw usable food away. When eating out, asking for a take-out container (or bring your own) when your food arrives to help remind you to take home the leftovers. As you teach your children, friends, and family to be mindful of the helping they put on their plate, you are instilling healthy habits for them and the earth.Don't Waste Good Food
  1. Make a list and check it twice – Despite our best intentions, sometimes our food spoils. Planning ahead before you even get to the grocery store can help prevent that. For example, if you know you want to make a recipe using chicken stock, plan to cook another dish using chicken stock later that same week.
  1. Embrace the ugly – Picking through the produce piles is like a quest for the perfect fruit or vegetable. However, if a potato has an odd knob, or an onion has a conjoined twin, chances are it will taste exactly the same as its normative cousins, especially if you’re chopping it up. Now, we’re not condoning purchasing bruised or unfit for consumption. Rather, you’ll be giving a home to an otherwise discarded piece of perfectly good produce. Besides, it makes for a wonderful game of Rorschach Vegetables.

Ugly Fruit

  1. Love those leftovers – For some, leftovers are the gift that keeps on giving. Others, however, tire of the same meal for weeks. For inspiration on how to jazz up your leftovers, turn to the wonderful world of Pinterest. Maxed out on turkey sandwiches? Freeze your cooked turkey for up to 6 months and keep that tryptophan train runnin’ well into the spring.

Waste Free SD Tip: Choose reusable containers to store your leftovers instead of non-recyclable plastic resealable bags.

  1. Compost – You don’t have to have a lot of space to compost! Contrary to popular belief, apartment dwellers as well as homes with yard space can significantly reduce the amount of food waste that makes it to our landfills and in return, you’ll have a nutrient rich compost for your garden by spring! Click here to learn more and stay tuned for our blog series on composting, coming soon to a computer screen near you.

Turn your winter leftovers into nutrient-rich soil by Spring!

As with other eco-friendly actions, reducing food waste is all about our choices. Start today with a small commitment to take a step to decrease your food waste. It may take time to build these habits, but when we’re able to stretch the life of our landfill to accommodate our children and grandchildren, it will certainly be worth it.

 

To learn more, check out this video:

Back to school guide: The sustainable way!

Today’s blog post comes from our super-star environmental educator Monica Rosquillas!  Monica’s parents are hoping she will someday use all those leftover Trapper-Keepers from junior high… monica

Thousands of San Diego students are getting ready to go back to school. Here are a few tips to do it the green way!

Reduce your daily lunchprint by following these tips:

• If you don’t yet own a reusable water bottle, get one, and make sure to use it! You can significantly reduce the amount of disposable water bottles you toss out just by drinking from your reusable water bottle every day. And it saves you money. Do the math! But take care of it, I’ve personally seen too many reusable water bottles in the lost and found; write your name or initials on the bottle to avoid losing it and creating more waste.

Some great alternatives to plastic bottles and bags.

Some great alternatives to plastic bottles and bags.

• Pack a lunch, but think twice before you put your sandwich, cookies, veggies, and other snacks in disposable plastic baggies. Those bags are likely to end up in the trash can, they don’t get recycled. If you throw out 2 bags a school day, that’s 10 bags every week, in a month that’s 40 bags, and in a year that’s a whopping 480 bags, they add up quickly! Save money and avoid making so much trash by switching to REUSABLE sandwich and snack bags. Plus, they are super cool-looking, you’ll impress your friends, and they are widely available.

• Don’t bag your fruit. Fruits come in their own compostable packaging, it’s not necessary to put your banana, orange, or apple in a plastic bag. Sure, it’s more appetizing to eat your already sliced apple out of a bag, but think about all the trash you’re making. If you want to pre-peel or pre-slice your fruit, that’s not a problem, it’s just another opportunity to use your reusable snack bags.

fruit

Fruit comes pre-packaged, naturally! No need for plastic bags.

More green tips!

• Be cool and carpool. Also, if you live close to your school, consider walking, skating, or riding your bike to school.

• Shop smart. I remember getting really excited about the new school year, I always wanted to start the year organized, and with brand new, cool materials, but I ended up buying supplies that I did not need. At my parent’s house there are still drawers full of markers, pens, colored pencils, rulers, notepads etc. that I accumulated throughout my education. So, before going out to buy new school supplies make a list of what you really need, this way you can avoid buying what you don’t. If you have any supplies at home that you won’t use, consider donating them to your school or an after school program. Also: Don’t forget your reusable bags when back-to-school shopping. Already do all the above and want to do more? Here are some tips for the A+ Environmentalists

• Start an organic gardening and composting program at your school.

• How well does your school recycle? If you think more can be done, talk with your teachers and principal about improving recycling at your school.

• Start an environmental club at your school. You can participate in clean-ups and organize recycling events to fundraise for your club or school.

• Help spread the word. Schedule a FREE environmental presentation from ILACSD for your school.


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