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 Our partner, Carton Council, has created materials specifically to help parents, teachers, and administrators get started.


Zero Waste Parenting: Back to School

As anyone with kids knows, parenthood isn’t always easy. Add in the decision of leading a zero waste lifestyle and it can seem next to impossible. However, being a zero waste parent is not as far-fetched as it might seem. We’ve tackled a few zero waste parenting ideas in the past. And yes, it can take a bit more effort at first, but the small steps you take now will set your children up for a brighter and cleaner future! With that in mind, let’s get into our next zero waste parenting adventure and head back to school!

Go green with your Back to School routine!

Back to School season instantly conjures up ideas of supply lists and packing school lunches. Those ideas are usually accompanied by images of wasteful wrapping, plastic cutlery and sandwich bags, and a graveyard of old school supplies buried in some closet. With a few quick swaps on your supply list and ditching those single use items, greening up your Back to School routine can be much simpler than you would ever imagine.

Reduce, Reuse, or Repair:

When reviewing your new classroom needs for your kids, our first suggestion when it comes to zero waste habits is to reduce, reuse, or repair first. Is that lunch box from last year still in good condition? Can the scissors from years past be utilized again? If supplies from previous years are still usable, you should definitely reuse them! Make your supplies stand the test of time by opting for more classic designs. If you have simple prints and colors for lunchboxes and backpacks, there is less need to replace them year after year. If you have some broken items previous, try to repair them before you replace!

While you may not be able to utilize last year’s supplies every time, there is still the option to invest in reusable supplies going forward. This is especially important when it comes to school lunches. With a few extra minutes a day, you can make every school lunch much more sustainable. Swapping any single use item is a simple rule of thumb – switch from plastic sandwich bags to beeswax wraps or reusable snack bags, opt for a reusable utensil option over plastic cutlery, and ditch your single use plastic water bottles and grab a refillable alternative!

Invest in reusable lunch time alternatives! Don’t forget your reusable lunch bag!

Lunch isn’t the only time you can find sustainable alternatives! Check out the Everlast Rocket Book, a smart notebook that allows you to catalog your notes online. Once you use the notebook, you’re able to upload your notes, effortlessly clean off the book, and reuse the same notebook over and over!

Repurpose, Donate, or Recycle:

When you’ve exhausted your ability to reduce your single use items, repair broken supplies, and reuse anything you can, our next zero waste step on the list is to repurpose, donate, or recycle. Thrift stores are always a great option for Back to School shopping. There is also ample opportunity to donate and recycle your kids’ old supplies. One of the best parts of going zero waste is finding all of the organizations that are trying to make it as easy as possible. Crayola runs a Colorcycle program collecting and recycling old Crayola markers. Old binders of any brand can be donated to Office Depot for a recycling program they’re running in partnership with TerraCycle. You can also save $2 on a new binder when you donate an old one!

Follow these 4 steps from Crayola’s website to be an Eco-Cool School!

There are plenty of ways to go green even during the Back to School madness. With a little extra time, this whole zero parenting thing isn’t really all that difficultwell, no more difficult than parenting in general.

Back to school guide: The sustainable way!

Today’s blog post comes from our super-star environmental educator Monica Rosquillas!  Monica’s parents are hoping she will someday use all those leftover Trapper-Keepers from junior high… monica

Thousands of San Diego students are getting ready to go back to school. Here are a few tips to do it the green way!

Reduce your daily lunchprint by following these tips:

• If you don’t yet own a reusable water bottle, get one, and make sure to use it! You can significantly reduce the amount of disposable water bottles you toss out just by drinking from your reusable water bottle every day. And it saves you money. Do the math! But take care of it, I’ve personally seen too many reusable water bottles in the lost and found; write your name or initials on the bottle to avoid losing it and creating more waste.

Some great alternatives to plastic bottles and bags.
Some great alternatives to plastic bottles and bags.

• Pack a lunch, but think twice before you put your sandwich, cookies, veggies, and other snacks in disposable plastic baggies. Those bags are likely to end up in the trash can, they don’t get recycled. If you throw out 2 bags a school day, that’s 10 bags every week, in a month that’s 40 bags, and in a year that’s a whopping 480 bags, they add up quickly! Save money and avoid making so much trash by switching to REUSABLE sandwich and snack bags. Plus, they are super cool-looking, you’ll impress your friends, and they are widely available.

• Don’t bag your fruit. Fruits come in their own compostable packaging, it’s not necessary to put your banana, orange, or apple in a plastic bag. Sure, it’s more appetizing to eat your already sliced apple out of a bag, but think about all the trash you’re making. If you want to pre-peel or pre-slice your fruit, that’s not a problem, it’s just another opportunity to use your reusable snack bags.

Fruit comes pre-packaged, naturally! No need for plastic bags.

More green tips!

• Be cool and carpool. Also, if you live close to your school, consider walking, skating, or riding your bike to school.

• Shop smart. I remember getting really excited about the new school year, I always wanted to start the year organized, and with brand new, cool materials, but I ended up buying supplies that I did not need. At my parent’s house there are still drawers full of markers, pens, colored pencils, rulers, notepads etc. that I accumulated throughout my education. So, before going out to buy new school supplies make a list of what you really need, this way you can avoid buying what you don’t. If you have any supplies at home that you won’t use, consider donating them to your school or an after school program. Also: Don’t forget your reusable bags when back-to-school shopping. Already do all the above and want to do more? Here are some tips for the A+ Environmentalists

• Start an organic gardening and composting program at your school.

• How well does your school recycle? If you think more can be done, talk with your teachers and principal about improving recycling at your school.

• Start an environmental club at your school. You can participate in clean-ups and organize recycling events to fundraise for your club or school.

• Help spread the word. Schedule a FREE environmental presentation from ILACSD for your school.

We Talk Trash- Sign Your School Up for an ILACSD Education Presentation!

Today’s blog post comes from our Education Coordinator, Erika Bjorkquist.  Erika, whose pencils have been sharpened for weeks, is super excited for school to start and to begin education presentations for a new batch of kids!Erika-team

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Sharpen your pencils, gather your books, it’s back to school time! This year, as you prepare your lessons, consider incorporating a presentation from I Love A Clean San Diego. Our local, environmental nonprofit has been around for almost 60 years! With that kind of history, we have vast knowledge of San Diego and its local environment, so we know the issues important to the community.

San Diego is known for beautiful weather and breathtaking beaches. Unfortunately, along with sea shells and sand crabs, litter is ‘litter’ally harming our environment. Trash makes its way through rivers, creeks, storm drains, to beaches and ultimately, to the ocean. Once in the ocean, little can be done to reverse the detrimental effects of trash. But…there is something you can do! ILACSD is up for the task to help our beaches and water ways through our education programs and cleanups.  In our presentations, we talk trash, introducing students to the harms of pollution in the environment, and then we provide easy, everyday actions students can take to combat pollution in our watershed and provide dates in which students can get involved.

Letter from a student at Dingeman Elementary
Letter from a student at Dingeman Elementary

What is great about our education programs is that:

  1. We deliver programs county wide. Whether your school is in San Diego, Jacumba, Fallbrook, Oceanside, or Julian, we have a presentation for you!
  2. Every presentation is standards-based and interactive.
  3. We incorporate visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning in classroom presentations.
  4. We emphasize community service as a way to help make a difference and provide dates and locations where students can receive community service hours.
  5. Best of all, these programs are fun and engaging!

Our presentations cater to the grade level of the audience, and best of all, the majority of our presentations are FREE! Certain restrictions apply, so please call for details. For more information, please contact the education department at 619-291-0103 or You can also learn more on our education website.

Know what would make this student happy? A fun education presentation from ILACSD!
Know what would make this student happy? A fun education presentation from ILACSD!