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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Be a Wave of Change at Kids’ Ocean Day

This May, I Love A Clean San Diego will bring 1,000 elementary school students, teachers, and volunteers to the beach to become a living piece of artwork at South Mission Beach to celebrate the annual Kids’ Ocean Day. Through a partnership with the California Coastal Commission, ILACSD will host San Diego County’s 20th Annual Kids’ Ocean Day! Kids’ Ocean Day kicks off before we even reach the beach with in-school assemblies to educate the students on the importance of our ocean, how it is being harmed due to human actions, and how we each play a role in protecting the health of our oceans. Then, on May 24th, these students will unite in a beach cleanup, followed by the formation of an image only visible from the sky. Check out the video below to get a glimpse of what to expect at Kids’ Ocean Day.

This year, the statewide theme is “Waves of Change,” evoking the powerful force we can be when united in our actions. Forming the aerial art message through the collective efforts of each individual sitting in the sand is a perfect metaphor for how our combined daily habits like refusing single-use plastics have incredible power in shaping the health of our environment. We are grateful to have so many young participants engaging in this cause and hope this event will propel their momentum in acting as wise environmental stewards.

Revealing I Love A Clean San Diego’s 2018 Kids’ Ocean Day “WAVES OF CHANGE” Aerial Art Design:

2018 Kids’ Ocean Day Aerial Art Design

If you would like to be a part of this event, we’re looking for adult volunteers (18 years of age and older) to lead students during the cleanup and the aerial art. If you’re interested, you can find more details on the Kids’ Ocean Day event page or register here! As a thank you, all volunteers will receive a photo of the completed aerial art image as a keepsake! We hope you’ll come together with us this year to be a wave of change for our environment!

 

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!

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 cartonopportunities.org. 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.

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