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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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.

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:

Kitchen

Bathroom

Garage

Cooking Oil

Shaving Cream Gardening Chemicals

Whipped Cream

Hair Spray

Spray Paint

Cleaning Products

Dry Shampoo

Auto Maintenance
Products

 Air Freshener

Sunscreen

Insect Repellants

Deodorant

Shower/Toilet
Cleaners

Aerosol containers are composed of steel and aluminum. Steel is very similar to aluminum when it comes to its sustainable recycling capabilities according to our friends at Ball Corporation. You can check out our post on can growlers where we reviewed the benefits of materials like steel and aluminum for packaging. Because of its composition, aerosol cans are begging to be recycled. So how do you recycle them?

Well, when recycling an aerosol can, you first need to answer the question: “Is it completely empty?”

If you answered yes:

Awesome! Way to be aware of your needs, use up your products completely, and create less waste. Still, it is important that ensure that aerosol cans are completely empty. A quick way to be certain that the can is empty is to listen closely. Give the can a shake or spray (listen for any remaining fluid inside and verify that the product is no longer coming out of the nozzle). Once you know the can is empty, you can toss it in your blue bin for curbside recycling! No other steps are necessary. Make sure you never puncture aerosol can as it can be dangerous. There is no need to remove the nozzle before placing it in your recycling bin.

If you answered no:

Aerosol cans that still contain fluids are considered hazardous waste. You can still recycle these cans though! First, try offering the remaining contents to a friend or neighbor who might want it. Put the item on your local “Buy Nothing” page or see if it is able to be donated (unused spray paint can be donated Habitat for Humanity if it is in good enough condition). If you cannot donate or give the remaining product, you’ll want to treat it like any other household hazardous waste. Use the search bar on WasteFreeSD.org to find the closest location for recycling your hazardous waste.

So that’s it! Empty aerosol cans go directly in your blue bin to be recycled. Be sure to only buy as much of a product as you need and use it until it is depleted. Not only will that help you waste less, but it will make your recycling as easy as can be!

Three Easy Actions to Take for a Greener Office on America Recycles Day

Today is the 10th annual America Recycles Day a nationally recognized day and an initiative by Keep America Beautiful that promotes ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in our everyday lives. America Recycles Day is dedicated to the individual actions that people can take that create a collective difference for our environment! Having normal “blue bin” style recycling in the office is an awesome start, but let’s take a look at some other ways to boost your recycling program (if you don’t have a recycling program in place, check out our previous blog post that can help you get one started). Here are three easy ways you can enhance your workplace recycling in celebration of America Recycles Day.

Deal with the Graveyard of Dead Electronics: Recycle Electronics

Electronics are all around us, especially in a workplace. So what happens to all of those electronics when they kick the bucket? Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, should be properly recycled with a certified e-waste recycling company. Printers, computers, laptops, fax machines, phones (yes, most offices have landlines) can all be taken to a recycling location or a temporary collection event. Some businesses even offer to pick these items up from your workplace. Start by designating a spot in your workplace to collect electronics that are no longer working and can no longer be repaired (you can search for repair options on WasteFreeSD.org ). When you want to recycle the collected e-waste, simply use the search bar on WasteFreeSD.org by typing in a specific item, “E-waste Collection Event”, or “Electronic Waste Pick-up”.

Make sure everyone in the office knows where to drop off any electronic waste to be recycled.

Donate Before Ditching: Give Unwanted Office Supplies and Furniture to a Thrift Store

Does your workplace have way too many paper trays or stockpiles of old binders? Did your office go through a remodel and now has a bunch of outdated office decor? Don’t toss these items! Give your supplies and furniture a shot at finding a new home by donating them to a thrift store. Start by letting your colleagues know about the collection of unwanted office supplies, where they should drop off their unwanted supplies, and give them the opportunity to grab something they might need from the collection before it’s donated. Head over to WasteFreeSD.org to search “Thrift Stores” if you don’t know your nearest one. You can even find a local thrift store or organization that specializes in just second-hand furniture if you recently upgraded your office furniture.

Recent workplace renovations? Donate your unwanted office furniture or supplies to a nearby thrift store!

Stop Wasting Half the Paper Supply: Print Double-sided

A staple in almost any office is a large industrial printer. And chances are your office goes through a ton of paper. Remember to recycle that paper first off! Ensure that each cubicle, office, and room has a recycling bin and clear signage indicating the types of items that should be placed in it. But there is also another option to cut down on wasted paper: printing double-sided. Change your printer’s default setting to printing on both sides to reduce the amount of paper used. Another option is to have a pile of “previously printed on paper” that has an unused side. Utilize paper from this pile to manually feed into your printer for one-sided print jobs or for scratch paper!

Set those printer default settings to print on both sides of the paper!

Keep Up the Recycling Momentum

Don’t let your recycling efforts fade after America Recycles Day ends. Keep the conversation going! Each workplace should have a designated recycling champion…that can be you! Kindly remind your co-workers about recycling guidelines, reward anyone you catch “green-handed” (recycling correctly or contributing to the donation pile), and celebrate your workplace achievements with all of the staff. Don’t wait until the next America Recycles Day to implement a new practice and remember to provide your team with resources that make recycling crystal clear.

For more information regarding recycling, visit the Resources Page at WasteFreeSD.org or register for an upcoming workshop.

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!