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 Did your office go through a remodel and now has a bunch of outdated office decor?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.

Let’s all be Gleaning Machines

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

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

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

Food Desert Infogrpahic

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

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

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

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


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!


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.

The Fillery via Kickstart
Photo Credit: The Fillery via Kickstart


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.


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


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 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

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



Save the Forgotten Food

One of the best ways to fight food waste is to re-think the food that we buy in comparison to the food that we actually use. We’ve all had that feeling of disappointment while going through our refrigerator only to find hidden fruits and veggies that turned moldy because they were shoved  into the back of the fridge. To understand why this is problematic, check out this short video produced by Ad Council.

The Ad Council provides helpful tips on the best ways to prevent food waste in your home including rethinking your shopping guidelines and understanding the truth behind the dates on the food we buy! Here are some of our favorite food saving tips for our wallets and the environment!

Before you head out of the grocery store, start by planning your grocery list.  Here is an example made specifically for creating zero food waste. One of the best things you can do is to only buy enough fresh food for the upcoming week.

Here are some more tips on meal planning to help make grocery store lists easier to plan:


  1. Take a few moments and figure out exactly how many meals you need to prepare.
  2. Consider the work load of the week to decide the complexity of meals you can make.
  3. Incorporate seasonal produce.
  4. Track your food consumption weekly to get a more accurate idea of how much food you need.
  5. Food expiration dates are only suggestions; they refer to the manufacturer’s estimate of when the food quality will be at its best and has less to do with actual food safety.
  6. Use a recipe generator to use up odds and ends left in your kitchen

Once you’re at the store, grab your reusable bags, and your shopping list. Our Marketing Manager, Sarah, keeps her grocery list on her phone because handwritten notes are easily forgotten or lost.

Also, while you’re scoping out the produce, choose the “ugly” fruits and veggies. Odd shapes and superficial imperfections do not affect the taste or health benefits of the produce at all!

ugly pretty
Photo Credit:

There are many things you can do here in San Diego reduce food waste – limit portion sizes, plan grocery lists, or volunteer at a food bank such as San Diego Food System Alliance, and San Diego Food Bank. Use any of these resources as a launching pad for your path to creating less food waste!