Posts Tagged 'recycling'

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!

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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.

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.

Closing the Loop on Food & Plastics

An important conversation is buzzing right now locally and nationally about food waste. This past April a mandatory organics recycling law went into effect in California, requiring businesses generating 8 cubic yards of organic waste per week to divert it from the landfill. The nationwide campaign supported by the Ad Council is a call to action to end the 300 lbs. of food the average person tosses away each year. But what about the hard plastics most of this food is packaged in?

Bulk Food and Produce 1

Plastic free grocery shopping.

Unfortunately, plastics and food go hand in hand. Walk down any grocery store aisle and most food is accompanied with some form of plastic. Some plastics take the form of a container to hold butter or coffee grounds; others might be the tags keeping bread bags closed. The concept of the zero-waste grocery store is just beginning to make strides here in the United States. Here are some different ways to apply the zero waste hierarchy to the plastics that might accompany the food you buy.

Reduce:

One of the simplest steps to closing the loop with food products is purchasing in bulk or at your local farmer’s market. I love to bring my own cloth bags and the farmers market is a great way to avoid the plastic containers that a lot of produce comes in.

Reuse:

Small plastic containers that hold candies like tic-tacs can be reused to hold spices to take camping. K-cups can even be used as starts for seedlings! Try using plastic bread tags as identifiers for different keys or a holder for hair ties.

Repurposed TicTac Containers via pinterest

Credit: skruben.blogspot.com

 Repurpose:

Take on a small art project and repurpose that plastic container into something useful! I decided to turn a container that once held oats into one that holds plastic trash bags.

Repurposed Bag Container_Leila

Repurposed oatmeal container that now holds trash bags. I had fun decorating the outside of it!

 Recycle:

Recycle when you can! Hard, rigid plastic containers can be placed in your blue bin, as well as items in tetra-pak containers like almond milk.

If you are curious about other plastics that can be recycled or how you can take steps to reduce your food waste footprint, visit WasteFreeSD.org.

Can recycle: milk cartons, juice boxes, and broth boxes

Recyclable: milk cartons, juice boxes, and broth boxes

 

How to start a recycling program at your office

The majority of our day is spent at work. Every day you’re bound to deal with some amount of paper, especially if you work in an office. Implementing a recycling program in your office will require dedication, encouragement and education; luckily we have some tips on how to smoothly transition to a greener office.

First, find out what your waste hauler accepts and doesn’t accept, because each waste hauler is slightly different. You can find this information from a building manager or an administrative assistant.

WhatToRecycleMagnet

Start by catching everyone up to speed on what is recyclable and what isn’t.

Next, inventory your trash and recycling bin – how well is your office recycling already? Where can the recycling efforts improve?  Can you increase paper recycling, beverage container recycling, and food packaging recycling? Assess the items that are used most and which items are placed in the wrong bin. The goal is to divert those items from the trash can and into the recycling bin. From there you can set goals that are obtainable for your office.office recycling collage

Start small. Set a goal for the office that requires an educational component. Remind everyone that this is a team effort and involve everyone in the goal setting process. Appoint an overseer (we suggest you call them a “Sustainability Champion”) and as an incentive, reward others when you see them recycling properly.

trash labeling

In our shared kitchen area, we’ve labeled both of the trash & recycling bins along with a graphic that illustrates what items go in each bin.

Periodically, squeeze in a friendly reminder about the recycling goal at the bottom of an email or at the end of a staff meeting. Remember to avoid demanding phrases or shaming. Instead, highlight the achievement of individuals or the entire office. If you need a boost of eco-positivity, check out this blog from our Education Manager, Emily.

If you are looking to further expand your recycling program, appoint someone to collect any non-working electronics to recycle at a collection facility, not your office recycling bin. Common office items that can be collected for recycling include batteries, toner and inkjet cartridges, computer components, and fluorescent light bulbs.

Illustration of two batteries

Batteries are recyclable at household hazardous waste collection facilities.

In addition to an electronic waste pile, take your recycling efforts to the next level and add a donation pile in a cubicle or in the storage room.  There are great organizations around San Diego that will accept office items in good condition. To find a local organization visit WasteFreeSD.org

Remember to provide several rewards and words of encouragement. Set recycling goals that are achievable and go from there. Your office will continue to make improvements that will lead to the ultimate goal of zero waste!

 

CBTreg-cmyk

This blog has been sponsored by California Bank & Trust. 

Zero Waste 101

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

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

Zero Waste Alternatives

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

Organics (food scraps, yard waste) 39%

Construction and Demolition (building materials) 25%

Paper 17%

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

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

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

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

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

Moriah bridges love for craft beer & the environment

Mo brewing beerToday’s blog comes from our Community Program Coordinator, Moriah as she shares her love for San Diego craft beer and our environment!

I am known as the resident beer nerd at I Love a Clean San Diego.  After working at a local brewery for about a year and brewing at home, it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about beer.  One thing I didn’t know, however, was how connected my love of beer was to my love for the environment.  In a city like San Diego, it’s not surprising that our local breweries value our environment as much as they value their craft.

Ways SD breweries minimize waste

Water conservation is a big issue for everyone in California, and that includes craft breweries.  The industry average in California ranges from 3.5 to 6 gallons of water for every gallon of beer produced.  Breweries in San Diego are leading the way in reducing the amount of water needed for their production.  Local breweries are becoming increasingly water-wise.  According to the California Craft Brewers Association, Ballast Point has reduced its water use by more than 24 percent, and Stone Brewing Company recycles more than 62 percent of its water daily.

One of the biggest ways that local breweries reduce waste is by using their spent grain in creative ways.  Spent grain is the grain left over after the brewing process.  Instead of throwing this used grain in the landfill, most of San Diego’s breweries donate it to local farms, where it can be used as livestock feed.  Stone Brewing Company even uses it as a mulching tool in their garden.  Some of their spent grain goes towards locally made soaps and dog treats as well!

Hop farm

Hop farm picture is Jordan Brownwood tending hops at Nopalito Farm & Hopyard. Photo credit:  slowfoodurbansandiego.org

San Diego is known for its hop-heavy beers, but did you know that farms right here in San Diego County grow one of beer’s most important ingredients? Nopalito Farms is a local, family-run organic hopyard and orchard in North County San Diego.  Since water conservation is always an issue in Southern California, Nopalito Farms has adopted sustainable farming practices like drip irrigation and mulching, and they work to maximize the rain that they get in Valley Center.

Imbibe with the earth in mind!

  • Bring a growler with you next time you pick up beer. Instead of cans or glass bottles that will end up in your blue bin, get a reusable growler and take it to the closest brewery.  Get fresh, draft beer straight from the source! Be sure to check with the brewery first to see if they have any specific growler policies.
  • Reuse old beer or wine bottles to make decorations for your house. At our recent Sustainable Living Workshop that focuses on a zero waste home, our educators taught attendees how to reuse their old bottles and turn them into fashionable home decorations.

    Zero Waste Home - Jan 2016 (29)

    One example of a  repurposed wine bottle from our Zero Waste Home Workshop.

Volunteer at Cupid’s Cleanup!

If all of this beer talk has you thirsty, you can join us and Benchmark Brewing Company on Saturday, February 13th from 10am-12pm for a cleanup of the San Diego River! Why not switch up the typical dinner and a movie Valentine’s Day date and help us clean up the San Diego River instead. Then, if this blog has inspired you to try some local San Diego suds, you can join us afterward for a Valentine’s Day-themed mixer hosted by Benchmark Brewing Company! Families, sweethearts, kids, and singles are all welcome.

Register here! Help us spread the word by joining the Facebook event and sharing the cleanup with your friends and family. 

cupids instagram

Join the conversation #AmericaRecyclesDay

Ani_team15Ani has written another amazing blog for this week! If you follow us on social media, you know that we’re gearing up for America Recycles Day, the one day a year that is dedicated to making the most of our resources through recycling and upcycling! By the end of this blog, not only will you know what ARD is all about, but we hope you’ll be inspired to celebrate with us by boosting our recycling efforts here in San Diego!  

The 8th annual America Recycles Day is November 15th so be sure to mark your calendar! The goal of America Recycles Day, an initiative led by Keep America Beautiful, is to acknowledge our recycling efforts and stir up a conversation about what more can be done to ensure our communities stay litter-free. This is ever so important in San Diego as the city is moving towards a 75% waste diversion rate by 2020, an ambitious goal that will engage the community to think twice about what is thrown out. That means that in addition to beefing up our recycling efforts, the city is also encouraging upcycling and repairing many things that would have otherwise been thrown away.

End of campaign infographic

Click here to see the full infographic highlighting last year’s results!

Last year during our campaign, an estimated 1,015 gallons of paint, 255 gallons of motor oil, and 980 gallons of other household hazardous waste was properly disposed of thanks to the help of Waste Free SD, the County of San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database lead by yours truly, I Love A Clean San Diego.

What’s new this year?

  • GLEANERS! Don’t know what a “gleaner” is? Not to worry, we’ll get you up to speed!
  • Test your blue bin knowledge. Let us know how much you know about curbside recycling.
  • In need of a fast way to recycle your old cell phone and make some cash? You’ll learn more about one of my favorite tried and true options!

This year we would also like to recognize Sony for supporting our America Recycles Day campaign and allowing us to share important recycling information with all of you through social media. Sony is one of our longest standing supporters, helping us achieve our mission year round by volunteering at cleanups and supporting our environmental education programs. Thank you, Sony!

SONY_logo_blue_no(R)

Sony is our America Recycles Day sponsor! Thanks for investing in a clean and sustainable SD, Sony!

Be sure to connect with I Love A Clean San Diego on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep the conversation going during our 2-week long campaign. We want to congratulate your efforts and encourage everyone to recycle! Let’s keep San Diego clean, together #AmericaRecyclesDay

 

Fallbrook’s Recycling Ninjas

Emily M.It is never too early to take action towards waste reduction. After meeting with the Fallbrook Street Elementary School Recycling Club, Emily wanted to share the students’ enthusiasm about recycling with all of you! Read on for some inspiration to start a recycling program at a school or office near you!

From the time students enter the halls of Fallbrook Street Elementary School, they are coached to become strong leaders. Joshua Mills’ 5th grade class is a shining example, leading the school in efforts to be more environmentally active. As part of their rotating class jobs, students serve as recycling collectors, traveling from classroom to classroom “like ninjas” so as not to disrupt the learning environment. They compile the school’s recycling into a central bin and remove any non-recyclable items.

recycling ninja

You don’t have to be a student to be a recycling ninja! Check out the Ocean Conservancy’s Recycling Ninja pledge here.

What keeps them motivated to be dedicated recyclers? “Recycling is important to me because I like to have a clean environment,” said one student. “I like to keep my school clean,” said another. Many of them echoed this sentiment: “I love to recycle because I don’t want paper going to the landfills because you can recycle and reuse it.” To help encourage other students and teachers to adopt this perspective, they created informative posters displayed around campus and presented at a school-wide leadership rally.

As they look ahead to 6th grade, the students are excited to continue this recycling program. One student mentioned he is transferring schools, but intends to bring this knowledge with him to his new school.

albatross jar

The contents of this jar represent items commonly mistaken as food by marine life such as albatross. These items include plastic utensils, a lighter, and bottle caps.

During I Love A Clean San Diego’s free presentation, we built upon their recycling foundation and discussed next steps – further ways to reduce overall lunch waste. When I left, Mr. Mills was already scheming on how to teach math through a classroom worm bin.

To conclude our interview, I asked the students one thing they want the people of San Diego to know. They had some sound and simple words to live by:

“Don’t put things that you shouldn’t recycle in the recycling bin.”

“Don’t pollute because we won’t have good air.”

“If you see some garbage, pick it up, even if it’s not yours.”

“Pick up after your cats and dogs.”

Based on the variety of these responses, we can see how one small step towards waste diversion can lead to a lifetime of environmentally-minded choices.

Comment below to tell us about what your school is doing to help keep your community clean and green!

Interested in having our educators visit your classroom? We are currently scheduling for the 2015-2016 school year. To schedule, please email our education department at education@cleansd.org.

classroom panorama

Reclaim and re-imagine to reduce construction waste

amanda-2-photoshopToday’s blog comes from our Hotline Manager, Amanda! You may remember her from one of our most popular blogs, “Curbing Food Waste by Gleaning” which was all about reducing food waste. Now, she’s focused on reducing another common landfill item – construction and demolition debris.  Whether you’re knocking down walls or swapping out home embellishments, you’ll be surprised how much can be recycled and repurposed! Read on to learn more about how you, too can help give these items a second life! 

Are doing some remodeling around your home?  According to the County of San Diego’s Public Works Department, each year 20% to 35% of the waste that goes to landfills in San Diego is generated from construction and demolition. This amounts to more than 1 million tons countywide. You probably already know a lot about recycling, so today we suggest thinking of a different “R” for your materials; reclaim and reimagine! You will keep valuable materials out of the landfill and make your home dazzling at the same time.

If the building materials you have are in good condition, consider donating them to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, which has locations in Mission Valley and Escondido. Items sold at these locations help to support Habitat for Humanity’s programs in San Diego County. Also, if you’re looking for materials to use for projects around your home, you can shop at ReStore too!

Construction Blog pic 1 (Habitat for Humanity ReStore)

Habitat for Humanity ReStore not only accepts donated home materials, you can shop as well!

 

Reconstruction Warehouse is a local company that is also available to accept your reusable construction related materials and offers a place to shop for these materials. Reconstruction Warehouse builds custom furniture from reclaimed wood, and it’s quite beautiful!  Click here to find out more about their pick-up program, plus you can also find them on Etsy!

Construction Blog pic 2 (Reco Warehouse Pallet Wall)

Reconstruction Warehouse makes beautiful custom pieces out of reclaimed wood. Visit their website to learn more!

 

If you are lucky enough to come across some unique and/or antique items in your home remodel, Architectural Salvage is a great option to consider. They specialize in period building materials; from vintage doorknobs to stained art glass windows, and eclectic one-of-a-kind treasures. If you aren’t sure if your materials of value, give them a call and they will be able to lend a helping hand! Learn more about Architectural Salvage here.

If you would like a little help in your home remodel project, The ReUse People of America provide deconstruction services in San Diego County. They assist with deconstructing a building, rather than demolishing it. In doing so they are able to salvage up to 80% of the buildings materials. They can assist with both full and partial deconstruction, and they are a nonprofit organization which allows you to make tax-deductive donations to them by allowing them to keep your valuable deconstructed materials. More information about the ReUse People can be found here.

Lastly, other items you may end up with after a home remodel include Asphalt & Concrete, Brick/Masonry/Tile, Dirt and scrap metal. These are all items that can be recycled! You can find a location for these items, along with info on the companies listed above, by visiting WasteFreeSD.org!

Construction Blog pic 3 (general C&D recycling)

Our friends at EDCO also operate SANCO, a recycling center in Lemon Grove specifically for construction and demolition debris. Click here to learn more!

 

 


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