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

As many of us at ILACSD know, one of the biggest barriers to getting folks to recycle is a lack of education on what is recyclable and how easy it can be! With seemingly constant changes to the items that can or cannot go into a blue bin, residents are often left feeling a little confused. Today, let’s take a moment to talk about the right way to deal with an electronic waste item that might cause some confusion: hard drives!

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

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

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

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


How It Works:

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

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

A Safe and Sustainable Solution

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


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:




Cooking Oil

Shaving Cream Gardening Chemicals

Whipped Cream

Hair Spray

Spray Paint

Cleaning Products

Dry Shampoo

Auto Maintenance

 Air Freshener


Insect Repellants



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 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!

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


My First (And Certainly Not Last) Clothing Swap Party

When I first heard the idea of a “clothing swap,” I was at San Diego Leaders 2020’s Bites & Bigwigs luncheon with ILACSD’s Executive Director, Pauline Martinson. Over lunch, she discussed her career, ILACSD’s mission, and ways in which San Diego could reduce its waste. When she mentioned swapping clothes with a group of friends as a way to reduce waste and save money, I was instantly hooked. I had a growing pile of clothes I outgrew mentally and/or physically, and I knew my five best friends from college would give each piece a second life. Right after the lunch was over, I sent a group text to my friends and we planned a clothing swap party for our reunion in the mountains.

The concept of a clothing swap was not entirely new to me. I had rifled through my best friends’ clothing donation piles before they were taken to a charity, and my friends were welcome to any clothes I didn’t wear anymore. But I had never thought about doing one with the entire group as a way to help the environment. It made complete sense. One Green Planet summed up clothing swaps perfectly by saying, “Every piece of new clothing (if not made sustainably) can be the product of countless chemicals, dyes, and the like, all of which can be harmful to the earth, air, groundwater – as well as the people making the clothing and even the people who try it on and then wear it.” This doesn’t even include the significant amount of clothing that winds up in a landfill.

The day of the swap, each of us grabbed our overflowing bags of clothes and sat in a circle. I looked around me and thought about what each girl would bring to the pile. I could count on my friend Ollie for soft basics in neutral colors. Mary works at Nike headquarters so I knew I could get some cute workout clothes if I was quick enough to beat out the other girls. Marissa could be counted upon to provide trendy work clothes. And last but not least, Tristan could provide me with colorful dresses and tanks. We seized each other up and poured out the contents of our bags into the middle of the circle.

From the moment the last article of clothing hit the ground, the girls and I jumped into action. Mary picked up Tristan’s puffy vest, excited to wear it during Portland’s winter. Ollie went straight to my old ripped shorts since her pair recently broke. Tristan quickly grabbed Mary’s Nike running clothes to wear for her half-marathon training. Marissa grabbed a long skirt that was suitable for work. I quickly sifted through the pile and threw anything of interest behind me. I ended up with two workout tanks, one black-and-white striped shirt, one off-the-shoulder white blouse, and a soft pink ombre shirt. I was already planning on purchasing a few of these items, but now I had them for free!When the mayhem subsided, I looked around the circle and saw how happy everyone seemed. Everyone got several great new pieces of clothing without much bloodshed and our old clothing found a second life with very happy new owners. We went around the room and excitedly shared what each of us picked up.

After we finished our oohing and aahing at the new clothing each of us got, I turned my attention to the leftover pile in the middle. To make sure everyone had seen everything, I held up each abandoned piece before putting in a charity donation pile. These clothes weren’t picked up for various reasons but weren’t loved any less. There was a dress we thought was too short for us tall people, a pair of jeans that didn’t fit any of us anymore, and random items that we already had in our closets. We donated this pile to charity for others to enjoy.

Here were my key takeaways…

  1. The clothing swap was a lot of fun for everyone.
  2. I love clothes.
  3. I love the word “free.”
  4. It warmed my heart to see perfectly good clothing go to someone new.
  5. My bank account is sure happy about this.
  6. The environment is sure happy about this.

Have the girls and I already planned another one of these for our winter reunion? Yes, we have!

Today’s post was authored by guest contributor, Lia Bruce. Lia is a San Diego native and the Communications Coordinator for Climate Education Partners, housed at the University of San Diego. She enjoys painting, hiking, singing in a community choir, traveling, and searching for the best burger.

Vermicomposting: Tips from First Timers

When it comes to going zero waste, composting often seems to be one the most intimidating step to take. Yes, composting definitely requires more time up front compared to swapping out single-use items for reusable options, but the process is not nearly as time consuming or scary as you might imagine. To help ease any fears that might still have you feeling hesitant, some of the ILACSD team is giving you a look into their own experiences with composting for the first time!

Emily showing Lauren and Moriah how to make their own vermicomposting bin!

But let’s get started with a review of some basics when it comes to composting. Composting is the process of converting food scraps and yard waste into compost, an organic, nutrient-rich alternative to fertilizer in your garden or your potted plants. According to the Center for Sustainable Energy’s Equinox Project, organic waste makes up one-third of the waste in San Diego’s landfills. By composting, we can divert organic waste from landfills where it can release methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

In the I Love A Clean San Diego office, we have multiple team members who collect food waste to be brought back to their composting bins. This past June, Moriah and Lauren made their own vermicomposting bins and began their composting journeys! With a few simple tools, we enjoyed time in the sun making the bins and learning all the details of vermicomposting!

Both Moriah and Lauren have been using their vermicomposting bins about a month now. With that experience under their belt, we checked back in to see how the process has been going. Lauren explained, “I have to say it’s intimidating to have another thing to take care of in my household, but the simplicity and beauty of this natural process are what astonishes me the most, day after day.” Moriah shared how having Emily – our Education Manager and composting expert – in our office as a resource impacted her experience:

“Having Emily as a resource has been super helpful. She has even responded to Snapchats I’ve sent to her of the bin to let me know if it looks like it is healthy and thriving. Emily’s help and the resources in our office have led to a pretty healthy bin. The worms are breeding and eating everything much quicker than I expected!”

Worms for the vermicomposting bins!

With a flourishing, healthy bin, Moriah has been able to show off her composting skills with her friends and family. By passing along her knowledge and story, she is creating a community she can be a resource for when it comes to vermicomposting.

“Whenever I have people over, I get to be the “worm girl,” showing off the bin and talking about how easy it has been to set up. They are always amazed that it doesn’t smell, that it’s small, and by all the things the worms eat. When we hosted a 4th of July party, people had fun (I think) digging in the bin to give the worms their watermelon rinds. Friends have even given me their rotten vegetables to put in the bin, saving those from going to the landfill.”

Composting does not have to be the unbeatable zero waste giant some imagine it to be. Finding your community, ask questions, and just taking the first step is really all it takes! So why wait? Start your own composting journey today!


Zero Waste Travel with Emily

While schools were on break this summer, Emily, ILACSD’s education manager, took time to travel both domestically and internationally. During her journey, she learned about how other places manage resources and waste. Read on for her best tips for reducing waste while on vacation.Emily Taroko Gorge

Traveling is a popular pastime, and for good reason. Stepping outside our community exposes us to new ideas and helps us gain greater appreciation for our globe and the other inhabitants who share it.  Though traveling can throw off our normal routine, here are a few small, simple ways to maintain zero waste principles while on the go.

For the airplane:

  • Pack your own snacks and reusable water bottle to avoid the tempting pretzels and soft drinks. Although aluminum can be recycled continually, it’s better to avoid the energy used to manufacture and transport that can in the first place.
reusable snack container
Stainless steel container filled with bulk dried cranberries, pecans, and popcorn.

Eating throughout the trip:

  • Just like at home, dining in is more often zero waste than buying take-out. Even better, explore a local grocery store or farmer’s market. It’ll be easier to find items without packing, and you’ll get to experience a different aspect of the culture. Three items I always like to carry with me are a reusable water bottle, reusable spork, and reusable chopsticks. If I remember, I also pack my reusable stainless straw, though I usually just go straw-less. Pack any leftovers into the reusable container you used for your plane snacks.

    reusable chopsticks udon
    This delicious udon tasted even better with my reusable chopsticks.


  • According to the EPA, 16% of water use in hotels is attributed to laundry. Help reduce their footprint by only refreshing towels when needed. Additionally, search for hotels who provide a “light clean” service – a practice that includes simply straightening the sheets like you do at home instead of laundering bed linens daily.
  • Some hotels and hostels donate partially used hygiene items to organizations like Clean the World. To see if where you’re staying is a participant, and to learn how much they’ve donated to date, click here.
  • Look for accommodations that have innovative, sustainable options as a way to test out potential lifestyle changes. Our Air Bnb in Kyoto had a combination sink-toilet, something my husband and I had been talking about for several months. Now that we’ve had a trial run, we’re more likely to invest in one for our home.

    toilet top sink
    After testing it out on our trip, now we’re even more excited to install a toilet-sink in our home!


  • Opt for items with non-plastic packaging. On your next adventure, try bar shampoo or Toothy Tabs – dry toothpaste tablets brought to froth with a wet toothbrush. Both avoid the 3 oz. liquid limit for carry-on bags. Refill travel-sized bottles with your shampoo/conditioner/lotion at home before you go. I’ve been using the same set for over five years! shampoo Osaka
    Our hotel in Osaka provided shampoo, conditioner, and soap in refillable pumps.


  • Learn to use the waste systems in place for where you’re going. Take the time to stop and figure out how to divide your waste. You may even come home with a new idea about how to go green. Ten points to Gryffindor Seattle for having large-scale composting AND pictures of what to place in each receptacle. I witnessed multiple people stopping to read the sign before sorting their waste. The more educated we are, the more of an impact we can make.

waste bins Seattle

If you’re looking for more steps for zero waste travel, check out Girl For A Clean World on Instagram – she’s full of inspiration and innovative ideas. I’ll let this sign I saw in Taipei sum it all up:



A New Look is Coming to WasteFreeSD

There is some exciting news in store for I Love A Clean San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database, For those who have not visited the site, is an online database full of recycling resources and utilizes a search bar to generate results that are organized by priority and then by proximity to your zip code. Residents and businesses in San Diego County have instant recycling information at their fingertips 24/7.

WFSD before
Currently, provides recycling information, but more resources are coming soon!

So what’s the exciting news you ask? is getting a much needed makeover! The database is about 10 years old and although we have grown to love it for the services it provides, the functionality of the website needed an upgrade. In addition to the functionality of the website, the message had to take an innovative turn as well. has been San Diego County’s recycling database, the newly redesigned site is going to be a zero waste database. That’s huge! That means that when you complete a search for more information about a certain item, options to Reduce, Repurpose, Repair, Donate, and Recycle will populate. As San Diego County strives to send less to the landfill, we’re excited  to help local residents and businesses do their part through

Newly redesigned features to include:

  • User friendly search bar
  • Results follow the zero waste hierarchy: Repair, Repurpose, Donate, Recycle, Dispose
  • Showcases more of I Love A Clean San Diego’s blogs
  • will be housed under one website (no need for two separate searches!)
WFSD after
Sneak peek at the newly redesigned!!

The newly designed WasteFreeSD will be a more interactive and overall easier for San Diegans to use and conserve resources. The main page will highlight helpful articles, blogs, and infographics. Most importantly it will highlight our partners who help keep San Diego looking beautiful! One of our first featured spots will be SDG&E’s Marketplace, an interactive search tool that helps you find energy efficient products. SDG&E’s Marketplace allows for residents and businesses to shop around for products that are energy efficient, qualify for rebates, and are cost effective. WasteFreeSD will be released late-August but users can visit SDG&E’s Marketplace now!

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for the latest news about WasteFreeSD.orgJoin us as San Diego leads the way to truly waste-free landfills!