Posts Tagged 'zero waste san diego'

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.

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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.

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.

Registration Open for 33rd Annual Coastal Cleanup Day

Get registered today at www.CleanupDay.org!

Registration officially is open for San Diego County’s Coastal Cleanup Day! While the name Coastal Cleanup Day suggests that this cleanup is all about the beach, many of you already know ILACSD’s volunteer efforts reach far beyond the coast. With eighty percent of marine debris originating in inland areas, at ILACSD we have expanded our Coastal Cleanup Day reach to include both inland and coastal territory. This year, sixty-five percent of the cleanup sites are located inland along rivers, creeks, canyons, and urban areas with the aim to stop debris before it makes its way to the ocean. We even have 3 clean ups happening on the water with kayaks! With 114 cleanup sites last year, volunteers removed 185,000 pounds of debris from San Diego County – the equivalent weight of 10 garbage trucks! Help us remove even more trash and debris and beautify our county by getting registered for this year’s Coastal Cleanup Day on September 16, 2017, from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM! Get registered now at www.CleanupDay.org!

Cut back on waste by bringing your own reusable buckets, work gloves, and water bottle if you have them!

In an effort to reduce waste produced by an event of this size, Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers can pledge to bring at least one reusable item to the cleanup. When volunteers bring their own reusable water bottle, work gloves, and bucket to collect litter, they prevent thousands of single-use bags and disposable gloves from entering San Diego’s landfills. When you register, please consider pledging to bring one of these items with you (or all three)! Once again, we will be having our “Bling Your Bucket” competition for Coastal Cleanup Day. Participants have the opportunity to decorate their reusable buckets showing off their creativity and imagination and submit photos of for the chance to win fun prizes and have their picture posted on the Coastal Cleanup Day website for one year! Volunteers of all ages are also encouraged to participate!

Participate in the Sony Photo Contest for the chance to win a Point & Shoot Camera!

The Sony Photo Contest is also returning to Coastal Cleanup Day! While you spend the morning helping to preserve our environment, snap some pictures of all of your hard work! After attending Coastal Cleanup Day, participants can submit their best photo from the event into the competition where the top five finalists will be put to a vote on the ILACSD Facebook page. The winner will receive a Sony Point and Shoot Camera!

We also collect valuable data about the debris collection that helps us understand how we can better prevent litter. Instead of using paper data cards, ILACSD is asking volunteers to download the Ocean Conservancy’s user-friendly mobile data collection app, Clean Swell, onto their smartphones as another way to cut back on waste.

Bring the whole family and join us for Coastal Cleanup Day on September 16th!

Not only will we be removing litter on Coastal Cleanup Day, the event also includes beautification projects such as graffiti removal and replacement of invasive species with drought-tolerant alternatives. Volunteers who signup will work with ILACSD to preserve and enhance San Diego for current and future generations to enjoy. Leading the way to a zero waste, litter-free, and environmentally engaged San Diego region, ILACSD encourages all community members to take action in their neighborhood by joining us on September 16th. Registration information and details regarding Coastal Cleanup Day can be found at www.CleanupDay.org.

Become a Zero Waste Family (Without Pulling Your Hair Out)

The idea of zero waste can seem overwhelming to many, and sometimes just convincing family and kids to pitch in can be enough to stop the most eager zero-waster in their tracks. We’re here to offer some tips and suggestions for getting the whole family on board for practicing (and enjoying) a zero waste life!

Grocery Shopping for the Family:

The key to embracing a zero waste lifestyle at home is as simple as preferring reusable items to disposables. The best place to start is at the store. Grocery stores are full of food that comes prepackaged in disposable wrappers and containers. Most of this packaging, including plastic produce and grocery bags, are considered “soft plastics” and cannot be recycled with other materials. By shopping in bulk and using reusable bags and jars, you are preventing this waste from entering your home in the first place. When you’re done shopping, try making a dish from scratch from the foods you bought and packing lunches for school and work with reusable containers and utensils.

Avoid disposable prepackaged foods. Pack your kid’s lunch with reusable items instead!

Toys, Clothes, and Everything Else that Ends Up on the Floor:

On the topic of shopping, a big culprit of waste can be compulsive buys- things we want in the moment but get minimal use out of before tossing them. This could be anything from clothing to toys to food. To prevent this, buy only what you need or know you are going to use. Yes, this includes all the toys and games your kids probably ask for. It may be tough at first, but encourage your kids to value and take care of what they have (this is a tough one, but we believe in you). When you do need something, use second-hand stores as your first stop to look. Similarly, instead of throwing away good items you no longer need or want, consider giving them a new life through donation.

Buy your toys second hand. When you’re done with them, donate them instead of tossing them!

Cleaning Up that Neverending Mess:

Anyone with children (and without) knows that messes are bound to happen, but they don’t have to set you back on your zero waste journey. To clean up spills or wash surfaces, opt for reusable cloths and DIY cleaning products instead of paper towels and store-bought chemical cleaners. Most DIY household cleaners only require a few ingredients, and chances are you already have most of them lying around! For example, an effective all-purpose cleaner can be made with white vinegar, baking soda, water, and essential oils.

Fill the Calendar with Zero Waste Family Fun:

It’s important to note that zero waste doesn’t have to be all about the stuff you have; it can also be about the things you do! A great way to get the whole family engaged is to have fun doing activities that let you spend time together without creating trash. Some options include visiting a park or beach, checking some books or movies out from the library, exploring a museum or aquarium, riding bikes, crafting using upcycled materials, and, of course, participating in an ILACSD cleanup! San Diego has an endless supply of places to explore, and by living zero waste you and your family can enjoy them while knowing that you are doing your part in keeping them clean and beautiful!

Participate in zero waste activities as a family. Join ILACSD for a cleanup and enjoy the outdoors while improving it!

Don’t forget, zero waste is a journey. You don’t get kicked out of the club if you slip up or struggle. With a family, this journey does take a little more effort, but your efforts will pay off for your kids. By following even a few of these tips, you’re helping leave the world much better off for your children (and eventually their children) to enjoy!

 

This article was authored by our Education Specialist, Alaine!

How to Stay Green on Your Summer Trip

It’s no secret that traveling is one of the best parts of summer, be it a trek over 2,700 miles away to NYC or just 2 miles to Mission Beach, it’s not a stretch to say that getting off the couch and soaking up some sun is on everyone’s to-do list. Unfortunately, when piecing together travel plans, green habits tend to turn a bit gray which is completely understandable. When thinking of sustainable travel, the first image that pops into many minds is one of a lone backpacker cooking a questionable meal on a solar powered burner outside of a ten-man tent. Lucky for us, the reality of green traveling is as easy as making small choices that lessen the impact we have on our destinations and the environments we cross to get there. Here are a few tips to consider to go green on your next summer trip.

Before Leaving

Any change starts at home and if you’re going on vacation for a few days anytime soon, be sure to minimize your home footprint as much as possible while you’ll be away. You can do this by following these few simple steps:

Adjust Your Thermostat

You’re going to be gone for a few days and if there are no pets or people, there is no reason to have the AC on full blast nor should the heat be on. Given we are in the midst of summer your thermostat should be set around 85º F (you could even turn it off if you want) so long as it doesn’t interfere with any temperature sensitive appliances like your refrigerator.

Unplug Electronics

We are constantly using electricity even when we don’t realize it. Any time an electronic device or appliance is plugged in, even if it’s not in use, it is still leeching electricity. That electricity being used is produced primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, 65% to be exact according to the US Energy and Information Administration. So before you go, don’t forget to unplug any gaming system, TV, laptop, toaster, or microwave that would otherwise be leeching power while you’re away.

What to Bring

Deciding what to pack for a trip is one of the most important phases of the pre-trip process. What you bring impacts your choices once you’re there, so why not set yourself up for sustainable success by keeping the following in mind during your packing.

Pack Your Own Reusable Shopping Bags

Simply roll one or two bags up and tuck them into your suitcase or backpack to cut down on the packaging you would otherwise throw away when shopping in a different city. This is also a helpful day bag option if you don’t want to haul all of your luggage around town!

Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle

One water bottle takes on average at least 450 years to degrade, and it takes about twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water inside the bottle. Consider skipping the plastic bottle all together and invest in a durable bottle.

Bring Less, Pack Light

There are a plethora of benefits that come along with packing light, ranging from saving on baggage fees when flying to knowing what you have is what’s by your side. The biggest benefit, however, comes from the shrinking of your carbon footprint when you fly, the less you bring the less weight the airplane carries which lessens the planes fuel use and carbon emissions.

Choose Your Method of Travel Wisely

Let’s get this out the way now: walking is the most sustainable mode of transport we will ever have. Unfortunately, it often duals as one of the most impractical. When it comes to making sustainable travel decisions, the distance you’re traveling is the most important factor.

Local Trips

When heading out to the beach to meet up with friends consider taking the public transportation rather than your car. Not only will you save on gas, but you’ll also help improve local air quality which is often much worse in urban areas where traffic tends to suffer from congestion.

Another option (for those close enough) is to get the gang together and then bike to your destination.

Further Destinations

According to the UCSUSA, when traveling between 100 and 500 miles motor coaches and trains are the most effective form of travel leaving the smallest carbon footprints. On top of saving the environment from additional emissions, you also save yourself of a few bucks with the average Amtrak ticket ranging from $145-170, the average domestic flight ticket landing at $379, and bus services such as Greyhound being considerably cheaper than both.

Long Distances

Now when traveling overseas or cross-country, the practicality of green travel gets a little fuzzy. As much as we’d like to be green, it’s just not really feasible. In the cases you find yourself traveling by air, be sure to fly the most direct route to your destination and always fly coach. Though it may be cramped at times, the more people that can be seated on a plane helps lessen each individuals’ impact on the environment. Not only will this shorten your travel time, but it will also reduce your fuel consumption as your taking less total flights.

Once You’ve Arrived

Stay at a Green Hotel or with Family and Friends

If you’re not leaving the United States, check if the hotel you’re planning on staying at is LEED certified by the US Green Business Council, they judge on sustainability, efficiency, and quality of the way buildings are constructed, maintained and operated. If you are going overseas be sure to find out what that countries green hotel certification program is and what hotels are certified.

If you have any family or friends where you’re going, ask them if you can crash at their place for a few nights.

Keep Your Shopping Habits Local

When staying in a place far from home, we tend to cling to things we are familiar with, be it a certain kind of soap or a certain kind of food. Many of these things must be flown or shipped from overseas, which only contributes to greenhouse emissions. Every time you buy local you not only support the local economy but you also get a unique taste of the local culture and cuisine.

Rethink Souvenirs

For many of us, one of the best parts of traveling is the cool stuff we buy while out globetrotting. While the stuff we buy is cool to look at much of it ends up on a shelf collecting dust. When out shopping, ask yourself if you really need that little knick-knack or if a picture of it would suffice. If you still want to shop around, just follow the advice from above and stay local because who wants something made from assembly line a thousand miles away anyhow?

Getting Around

Though it may be easier to call up an Uber or taxi service to drive you around, the average vehicle still releases about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year according to the EPA. As an alternative try renting a bike from either a bike shop or at an automated bike rental stand. Another option would be to take public transportation which reduces the amount of CO2 emitted per person or just walk, eliminating these emissions completely.

Remember that even if you just put to action one of the tips above you will be making a difference and be one step closer to traveling sustainably. Safe (green) travels!

Today’s blog was written by guest contributor, Jessica Lewis. Jessica is your every day, So-Cal based writer with an interest in the environment. 

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 Tips for your Summer Shindig

Spring is among us, and summer will be here before most of us even know it. By San Diego standards, that means cookouts, beach days, and barbecues galore. For zero waste enthusiasts, the often-present plastic utensils, plates, and bottles can sometimes overshadow the excitement of these events. Whether you are a seasoned party host or it is a special occasion, the I Love A Clean San Diego team wants to help prepare you with some tips to make it the top, zero waste soiree of the season!food-summer-party-dinner

Gathering Supplies:

Preparation is key to a successful, sustainable cookout. To create an eco-friendly environment for your event, you will want to consider stocking up on some reusable party essentials. For grilling, reusable metal skewers and grilling baskets come in handy. Instead of plastic plates and utensils, head to your local thrift store to mix and match reusable dishware and utensils. You may even find some great serving platters while you’re at it! The eclectic plates can add a funky touch to your décor. Ditch the wasteful paper napkins and plastic tablecloths for reusable cloth napkins and tablecloths. This will immediately make your party style stand out while saving on waste! Red plastic cups can be substituted with Ball mason jars and reusable straws to class up any cocktail!

While some may be the official cookout host among their cohort, there are options for hosting a zero waste shindig without stocking up. Whether you lack the space to store all the extra dishes or just rarely host, rental companies can often come in handy. This option may not be right for everyone, but renting can sometimes come out to be cheaper for the infrequent, eco-friendly host. They can supply everything from serving platters, dishes, cutlery, glassware, napkins, and tablecloths.dinner-meal-table-wine

Food and Drink:

While shopping for foods, don’t forget to bring your reusable mesh or cloth bags, jars, and other containers. Buying in bulk is always a cornerstone to any zero waste tips list. Check out the bulk food section for all your party snack foods. Skip out on those individually packaged cheese slices and opt for the deli counter or a local farmers market. The farmers market is also a great place to get locally sourced, organic vegetables. Focusing your grilling around vegetables can help make your party even more eco-friendly.

No party is complete without a varied selection of drink options. However, you can cut back on the waste by offering bulk drink options in large glass dispensers. Water, lemonade, and sun tea (you can compost those tea bags) all work well for this serving style. This drink technique also helps cut out all of the single use water and soda bottles. You can look into local breweries and wineries to fill up reusable bottles and growlers for your party as well. Growlers of San Diego’s finest craft beers are sure to take any celebration up a notch!

Clean Up and Compost:

Just as we mentioned in our Zero Waste Festival Guide, it is best to make your set up as easy as possible for those who are less experienced with recycling and compost. Consider setting up a row of bins that are all clearly labeled for compost, recycling, and landfill. You may also want to set another bin out with a bit of water for a location to collect all of the dishes. This can make the cleanup process a bit quicker when bringing in the plates and cutlery for cleaning. For any leftovers, keep your Bee’s Wrap handy. The reusable alternative to plastic wrap can also be used around kindling to start a fire if your party lingers on into the night.

Pick up more tips and knowledge by attending our second annual Zero Waste Fair on June 17, 2017, in Encinitas! For more information on how to adopt a waste-free lifestyle visit WasteFreeSD.org. For more information about our educational programs, contact education@cleansd.org.

8 Ways to Reduce Your Ecological Footprint

Today’s blog was written by Marketing Manager, Pia.

Ecological footprint: the impact of a person or community on the environment, expressed as the amount of land required to sustain their use of natural resources

It’s been estimated that it would take 3.9 Earths to sustain the world population if everyone lived like we do in the US. When considering factors like food, water-use, waste and transportation, it’s clear there’s an urgent need for more sustainable daily actions. Luckily, you can start creating these habits today!

Check out the Global Footprint Calculator from the Global Footprint Network to understand your ecological footprint. Then, incorporate these suggestions to reduce your ecological footprint and make a positive impact!

  1. Reduce Your Use of Single-Use, Disposable Plastics. Did you know all the plastic we’ve ever made still exists? We use disposable plastic shopping bags for an average of 12 minutes before we discard them (and yes, there are still plastic shopping bags at clothing stores, hardware stores, and more). Other single-use plastics like straws, cups, and utensils aren’t used for much longer. Make the switch to reusable items, such as reusable water bottle, reusable shopping bag, and reusable cups.
  2. Switch to Renewable Energy. According to the EPA, the electricity sector was the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US in 2014. If you have the budget and living situation to switch to solar, look into installation options. If you don’t, there are still many ways to reduce your use of nonrenewable energy. Look into renewable energy options through programs like SDG&E’s EcoChoice. The program allows you to switch 50-100% of your energy bill to renewable energy from clean sources. Best of all: it’s easy and affordable! Log in to your account for an estimate and reduce your ecological footprint in a click. renewable energy idea san diego
  3. Eat Less Meat. The meat industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, along with its other issues such as animal welfare, water-use, and land degradation. Reduce your ecological footprint by enjoying vegetarian-friendly meal days and supporting local meat sources.
  4. Recycle Responsibly. Recycling helps conserve resources and reduces air and water pollution. It also saves space in our overcrowded landfills. Become a recycling rockstar by knowing the rules for your area and recycling as much as you can. For recycling locations along with repair, reuse and repurpose ideas, visit our recycling and zero waste database, WasteFreeSD.org.
  5. Reduce your Waste. Our landfills are quickly filling up. Do your part by reducing your waste. Reduce packaging waste in the kitchen by buying in bulk, eating a veggie-based diet, and composting. Reduce your bathroom product waste by concocting your own formulas, buying reusables, and forgoing unnecessary products. Be sure to recycle plastic bottles, toilet paper rolls, and other recyclable bathroom materials. Learn more about zero waste here.
  6. Drive Less. Our cars release many pollutants into the air and our oceans. When you’re able to travel without a car, take advantage! San Diegans can enjoy year-round walking and biking trips to the store, coffee shop, or farmer’s market. When you have to drive, consider grouping errands together or taking public transit. If you rely on your car, make the switch to an electric vehicle. Not only are they better for the environment, but you won’t have to buy gas ever again. bike to reduce ecological footprint
  7. Reduce Your Water Use. Water is precious. We only have to look at the last few years in California to understand why. More water is used in our yards than any other category for the average household. Transform your yard into a water-wise oasis to conserve water. Find ways to incorporate water savings techniques around your home, such as using rain barrels, washing clothes when you have a full load, and stopping unnecessary faucet use. More tips from Be Water Wise.
  8. Support Local. Our stuff travels more than we do. Whether it’s clothes, food or supplies, many items have a huge ecological footprint. Support local, transparent companies and farms to reduce your footprint. A great place to start? Shop your local farmer’s market. san diego farmers market

Have more tips to reduce your ecological footprint? Share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Zero Waste Festival Guide

Today’s blog was written by Senior Director of Operations, Natalie!

With music festival season coming up, thousands will be flocking to Indo for Coachella and Stagecoach as well as many other festivals around the country. Navigating how to be as eco-friendly as possible while enjoying these festivals can be tricky. Often, it takes just a few steps to plan ahead so you can reduce your waste, protect the environment, and save a little money too. Here are a few tips to plan for a sustainable festival season.

Getting There
Carpool! We took an RV to Stagecoach in Indio last year. We all met up in San Diego to ride together rather than meet up at the festival in separate cars. This saved a lot of money from parking fees and logistical headaches at the festival as well. Look for carpool incentives at upcoming festivals.

Enjoying the Festival
In the desert during long festival days, it’s important to stay hydrated. Buying individual water bottles was not only wasteful for the environment, it also meant waiting in long lines to keep buying water and spending a lot on marked up bottle prices. We planned ahead and brought hydration backpacks that we could refill at the water refill stations around the festival grounds. Reusable water bottles would work very well too. This not only saved on what would have been numerous single-use plastic bottles, but also saved us a lot of money and fewer water trips, which meant more time spent enjoying the concert!

camelbak backpack

Plan ahead if you’re camping. Unfortunately, there was a rule about no glass on the campgrounds for Stagecoach when I went. Plan ahead with reusable plastic or aluminum glassware, as well as reusable utensils and plates. We found that all-in-one utensils worked really well to avoid having to wash as many utensils while camping. Reusable cloth napkins are a great option for napkins—it was fun giving everyone brightly colored tea towels so they could remember which one was theirs. We planned most of our meals to avoid needing utensils or plates all together to make cleanup easy and waste-free. For food, we brought fruits and veggies that we pre-sliced at home, opted for handheld foods like hotdogs and sandwiches, and utilized items with very minimal packaging. It was tempting to bring a bunch of prepackaged meals like microwaveable individually wrapped breakfast sandwiches and mini chip bags, but instead choose homemade guacamole in a Tupperware, homemade muffins, bulk snack foods in reusable bags, and other more eco-friendly choices.

reusable napkin options

More Tips

  • Composting: I brought a small bin with a tight sealing lid to house our food scraps to take home with us to compost. I was so excited to find compost bins around the festival for food scraps while inside!
  • For beverages around the campsite, we brought as much as we could in bulk to avoid excess packaging from single serving beverages. Beer in stainless steel growlers were great to have on hand so we could enjoy our favorite craft beers while abiding by the no glass rule. When we needed to, we opted for beer in cans since they could get recycled.
  • Set up your campsite to make it easy on those with less knowledge of recycling and composting. As the trip organizer, I set up bags for trash, a bin for food scraps, and a bag for recycling, and I gave everyone some quick reminders based on the food we had so it was easier to remember. I also double-checked the bags before we closed them up to make sure items were correctly placed.

More sustainable and zero waste tips on festival websites:


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