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!


San Diego Schools Step Up Their Recycling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zero Waste Parenting: Back to School

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

Go green with your Back to School routine!

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

Reduce, Reuse, or Repair:

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

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

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

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

Repurpose, Donate, or Recycle:

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

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

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


COME TOGETHER: Kids’ Ocean Day 2017

I Love A Clean San Diego once again partnered with the California Coastal Commission for our 19th annual Kids’ Ocean Day. On May 18, 2017, over 900 students, teachers, and volunteers united together to clean up Mission Beach and the surrounding area. These dedicated 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders rallied together from 7 local schools to protect our oceans by collecting thousands of pieces of litter and marine debris. Common items found during the cleanup included small pieces of plastic, snack wrappers, straws, and Styrofoam. The students’ cooperative energy and childlike verve were tangible on the beach that day.

Students from Porter Elementary show off the waste they collected and their shirts decorated with this year’s theme – COME TOGETHER.
Students from Porter Elementary show off the waste they collected and their shirts decorated with this year’s theme – COME TOGETHER.

Following the cleanup, students united with community volunteers to form an aerial art image. One of the most common questions we receive is, “how do you make the aerial art happen?” Here’s a peek behind the curtain:

Each year, I Love A Clean San Diego’s education department designs an aerial art image that follows the statewide theme for all 5 Kids’ Ocean Day partners. On the day of the event, the ILACSD aerial art team assembles before daybreak to produce the much-anticipated image. Equipped with irrigation flags, surveyor’s tape, and extra-long measuring tapes, our amazing staff spend the wee hours of the morning meticulously plotting each and every point of the aerial artwork image. This year’s theme – COME TOGETHER – draws on the power we have when united in our efforts to protect and defend the oceans and coastlines from pollution.

As students began to file into the formation, anticipation was high; everyone was excited to see the helicopter fly overhead, photographer inside, capturing our hard work from the sky. It was a gratifying moment to see all the students, teachers, volunteers, and staff sit in stillness within the image for 10 brief minutes. After months of planning, we were all rewarded with a powerful piece of art so vast it can only be seen from the sky.KAAB2017finalimage

The success of the day could be measured by the faces of the beaming students. They felt a sense of accomplishment from doing their part to help clean up the environment. The students now stand united as true “Scholars for the Sea!”

Kids’ Ocean Day is a magnificent event that helps to bring environmental awareness and stewardship to the forefront of these students’ minds. It is a day of joining forces and demonstrating to the kids what it means to work together as one. The students walked away from Kids’ Ocean Day feeling empowered and armed with the understanding that their personal choices have power and their everyday actions will impact our environment and our future.




Let’s all be Gleaning Machines

Gleaning Canva GraphicNo there isn’t a typo in the title, gleaning is a real technique that helps minimize food waste and hunger. What is it? It’s a  practice, used for hundreds of years, that seeks to reduce the amount of food that is wasted because it is not visually appealing. Gleaners harvest the crops that are not used by farmers and deliver them to those in need.

Linda Trozer, a member of the Society of St. Andrew, explains the unbelievable reality of agricultural food waste in the U.S. today.  Food is wasted at a disturbingly high rate, “The statistics are that 96 billion pounds of food are left — this is pre-consumer food — to go to waste in this country.”

What does this have to do with the average American family? The answer is food deserts. Millions of Americans are living in these areas that are lacking in cost-friendly, nutritious food.

Food Desert Infogrpahic

By throwing away edible food for superficial reasons, farmers prevent access to fresh fruits and veggies for thousands of Americans and contribute to the food desert epidemic. Naked Juice produced an interesting documentary about food deserts and their effect on American neighborhoods.

Gleaning provides an excellent solution to the this problem. If it sounds like something you might want to participate in, check out local organizations such as San Diego Roots and Crop Swap  for upcoming events. Whether you are a farmer or a novice gardener, anyone can play a role in reducing food waste by gleaning or distributing gleaned produce.

Let’s glean the food waste away one lemon tree at a time!

If you want to learn more about the gleaning process and other food waste reduction practices,check out our past blog about gleaning and I Love A Clean San Diego’s recycling website. We can all be lean green gleaning machines! 


How to love the beach & its ecosystems

Today’s blog comes from one of our Education Specialists, Becca! When she’s not in the office or a classroom, you’ll most likely find her at the beach!photo 4

“People protect what they love” ~Jacques Cousteau

Sometimes we chose to live by the ocean, but lack understanding of it. When we understand what we are living next to, we can help take care of it. This blog is for beach goers who admire the ocean but do not yet completely understand it.

What is all of this stuff lying out on the sand? What are those holes I see in the sand when the wave returns to the ocean? What is that smell on the beach?12513850_2611838140855_3439960453982877308_o

What is algae? Algae is a living organism that photosynthesizes like a plant. The difference between the two is that plants produce flowers and algae does not. For those of you that have not yet snorkeled or dived in a kelp forest, it is something worth mentioning. Kelp is one of the most important producers off the coast of California. What is it producing? Oxygen for all air breathers, homes for animals, and food for animals like urchins. It is also one of the many species of algae you will find washed up along the beach.

Sand also covers our beaches and thanks to this resource, we have interesting animals living in the sand called Pacific Mole Crabs. Pacific Mole Crabs are filter feeders; they eat by waving around their secondary antennae in the water. They don’t have claws, so don’t worry about those when you hold them! These creatures burrow through the sand and act as an indication of the health of the ecosystem. Their presence reassures us that we have healthy beaches.  When you next see bubbles in the sand after the wave returns the ocean, dig down to find some Pacific Mole Crabs.

emerita analoga
photo credit:

How about the smell of the sea breeze? The ocean’s smell is a combination of a few elements. If it were a recipe, it would look a little something like this:

  • Bromophenols: Comes from fish, oysters, shrimp, crabs, and oysters as a result of their diet which includes algae, worms, etc.
  • Dimethyl sulfide (DMS): The clammy or sulfur smell comes from bacteria that eat phytoplankton.
  • Dictyopterenes: Pheromones of algae, as most would guess, smells like dried seaweed.

Next time you walk down to the beach, feel free to explore! The more you about the beach and its ecosystems, you’re bound to discover whole different world!


Sources: – ocean smells


The Play-by-Play of Kids’ Ocean Day

Hats off to another successful Kids’ Ocean Day – ILACSD’s 18th and the state’s 23rd  annual event! Kids’ Ocean Day is a unique, annual event centered on engaging our youth as environmental stewards. After a school assembly about ocean conservation, 3rd-5th grade students from eight Title 1 schools around the county joined together at South Mission Beach to leave a lasting impact on their environment.

Take a look at how we spent the day!

Staff arrived at 5:00 AM to lay the aerial art design in the sand.


Volunteer groups, like Kohl’s Associates in Action, led students during the cleanup to ensure the day ran smoothly!


Thanks to additional sponsorship this year, ILACSD provided 50 reusable buckets for the cleanup, reducing the amount of disposable trash bags used at this event.


Volunteers reviewed safety tips for the cleanup and got students energized for the day!


Over 950 students, teachers, and volunteers participated in a beach cleanup, ensuring fewer pieces of land litter become marine debris.


Zero Waste in action! Most students created temporary trash bins from repurposed milk jugs, which they later recycled.


Fresh air + fresh dance moves + a freshly cleaned beach = a great day.
Students waiting patiently for the helicopter to circle overhead and capture the perfect shot of the aerial art.

And lastly, the official image! Great job, team! To get involved with an upcoming event, please visit!

Aerial Art - Kids' Ocean Day 2016