6 Ways to Cut Back on Food Waste for Climate Week

food in fridge

September 23-29 is Climate Week NYC, a series of events run in coordination with the UN and the City of New York that showcase actions people are taking around the world to reduce our impact on the climate and foster discussion on how we can do more.

Want to Take Action?

If you want to join the effort to take action on climate, food waste is a great place to start. In the U.S., 40% of food goes to waste, which accounts for 16% of our total methane emissions. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas that has more than 25 times the environmental impact that carbon dioxide has.

We can lower our methane emissions and reduce our climate impact by cutting back on food waste.

How to Reduce Your Food Waste

Try out these 6 tips to put a dent in how much food you waste:

1. Shop smart. Only buy what you know you’ll use. Create a meal plan for the week and build a shopping list around that meal plan. Try using this meal planner from Eureka Recycling, or the EPA’s smart shopping list (PDF).

2. Store food strategically. Fasten a produce storage guide to your fridge door, such as this one from the EPA (PDF), so you know which foods keep best inside or outside the fridge.

Also, learn about where food should be stored within your fridge. Your shelves, drawers and doors are designed to hold different types of foods. Check out the NRDC’s Refrigerator Demystified infographic (PDF).

3. Eat food strategically. All produce has a varying shelf life. Try labeling your food to remind yourself which items need to be eaten first (these PDF signs from the EPA are handy), and freeze food that’s about to go bad so you can use it in the future.

Still having trouble eating food in time? Try the USDA’s FoodKeeper application for Apple and Android devices. The app provides expert-backed advice for storing and eating more than 400 foods and drinks, and can give you reminders to use items before they go bad.

4. Prepare food in advance. When you get home from the store, rinse and chop your produce so that snacking and meal prep is easier during the week. That way you’ll be more likely to follow through on making the meals you shopped for.

5. In California, best-by dates indicate freshness, not safety. Use-by dates indicate food safety. That means you can still eat food after its best-by date, but not after its use-by date. To learn more about how long you can keep food, visit StillTasty.com or EatByDate.com.

6. Have a fridge full of random items? Use an online tool to help you find recipes for them, such as Supercook or MyFridgeFood.

Torn Jeans? Here’s an Easy Way to Fix Them (Video)

Wear your favorite jeans for long enough and eventually they’ll tear. Better than throwing them away and buying a new favorite, you can fix them!

With an inside patch for stability and some jean-colored thread, your favorite denim will be back in action. Watch this video to see how:

You can also start fixing your tear by applying an iron-on patch, as this second video demonstrates:

Jeans can last a long time, so fixing a tear can give them a much longer life. And not only will it keep them out of the landfill, it will also save you money.

How to Dispose of Lunchables

lunchables

Lunchables are easy to pack for kids when you’re short on time, but how do you dispose of the packaging when you’re done?

The cardboard sleeve goes in the recycling. The plastic wrap and plastic container go in the trash. They are not recyclable.

If you want to cut back on the waste, try making your own “Lunchables” at home. You’ll save money, too. Check out the Squawkfox homemade lunch experiment to learn more.

Back to School This Fall? Here’s How to Dispose of Drink Pouches

drink pouches

If you’re sending kids back to school this fall, chances are you’ll be packing some snacks and lunches. If you pack any drink pouches, such as Capri Sun, Tropicana or Honest Kids pouches, make sure they get tossed in the trash. Drink pouches are not recyclable.

Want to go the extra mile? Sign up for TerraCycle’s Drink Pouch Mail-In Recycling Program, or ask your kid’s school to start a collection for it. That way you can mail in empty pouches to be recycled through their special program.

Even better, invest in a reusable drink container for your kid to take to school, and fill it from a larger container of juice at home. You’ll quickly save money and reduce waste at the same time.

How to Host a Clothing Swap (Video)

clothing

What if you could get a wardrobe refresh without ever hitting the mall or shopping online? It turns out you can.

Clothing swaps are a fun way to trade clothes with friends and family. You can declutter while hanging out with people you care about, and breathe some new life into your closet without spending any money. Check out this video from New Dream to find out how clothing swaps work and get some tips for hosting your own.

Has China Really Ended Recycling? No!

recycling bales

The news media has been flooded with stories recently about how China has stopped accepting recycling from the U.S. Headlines are declaring the end of recycling. But is that really true? Fortunately, no. We’re here to set the record straight.

Just because China isn’t recycling many of our materials anymore doesn’t mean our materials aren’t being recycled.

What Really Happened

The Chinese government began limiting what recyclable materials would be accepted years ago, so no one was all that surprised when they wanted to set even stricter rules. China is simply moving toward a long-term goal to eliminate recycling imports.

Why? First, as the Chinese economy has grown, the country is now generating enough of its own recyclables that they don’t really need ours anymore. Second, we historically were shipping materials that were neither clean nor well-sorted, so our low-quality shipments were getting too expensive to process.

What Does the China Ban Mean for Us?

Recycling isn’t dead, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. The materials you put in your recycling are still making their way to facilities where they can be processed and recycled into new products and packaging.

What’s the difference? Now more of your recycling is being sold through local markets instead of international ones. This is actually a great shift for us, because we can invest in our own recycling economy and keep a closer eye on what happens to our valuable materials.

Here’s how you can help.

Recycle the Right Way Instead of the Wishful Way

The companies that buy recyclables only want clean materials. Often there can be many items that don’t belong in a shipment — think diapers in the plastics, or greasy pizza boxes in the clean paper. Contamination like this can ruin entire batches of material in the manufacturing process. So throwing the wrong thing in the recycling can result in an entire container getting rejected and shipped back across the ocean, or the state, just to end up in the landfill anyway.

Believe it or not, you play a huge role in making sure that recycling gets processed correctly and turned back into raw materials. It’s up to you to keep our recycling clean so that manufacturers will accept it and complete the cycle of turning your trash back into treasure.

Recycle the materials that belong in the recycling, and nothing else. When in doubt, throw it out! Or better yet, look it up in our searchable Recycling Guide. By recycling correctly, you’ll give our raw materials new value and new life.

Grammy Award Winner Releases Music Video About Plastic Pollution

American blues musician and four-time Grammy award winner Keb’ Mo’ just released a new song to help spread global awareness about plastic pollution. It’s called ‘Don’t Throw It Away.’ Check out the music video below, and remember — try not to buy stuff you’re going to throw away. Refusing and reusing always come before recycling or tossing in the trash.

Give yourself a refresher on what plastics we recycle by checking out the complete list in our Recycling Guide.

How to Fix a Pool Float

pool float

One of the saddest moments on a beautiful summer day is when your inflatable begins to deflate. Whether it’s a pool float, inflatable pool, boat tube or towable, air leaks are bound to happen. The thin vinyl is only so durable. But there’s good news — you don’t have to buy a new float every time this happens. Instead, you can extend the life of your float with a cheap, easy and sustainable option: repairing the leak.

Leaks can easily be identified and fixed with a few simple steps. This process also works for other seasonal items like inflatable pools, boat tubes and towables. All you need are the right tools, and your inflatables will be as good as new. Read these directions or watch the video below to learn just how easy this is to do at home.

Find the Leak

To determine where the air leak is coming from, start by fully inflating the float. You’ll need to leave the air in the float throughout the entire patching process as this makes it easier to repair. Once the float is fully inflated and the air valve is closed, you can determine the source of the leak through one of the following methods:

  1. Submerge the float in water. The leak will produce air bubbles in the water, making it easy to spot.
  2. Spray the area you think the leak is coming from with a cleaning product, then rub the cleaning product around. When you see bubbles consistently forming in one area, that is the air leak.

Once you find the source of the leak, cover it with a piece of tape or make a small mark over it so it can be easily identified when it’s time to make the repair. The float will then need to be completely dry before you begin patching it up.

Use the Right Tools

Before you can repair the leak, you will need to have the right patching tools on hand. Some inflatables come with a patch, or you may have to purchase a repair kit. You can also opt for a strong adhesive that’s not necessarily geared toward repairing leaks, like a shoe glue, depending on the size of the hole and the item you’re repairing. Whatever sealant you choose, just be sure that it’s flexible, strong and waterproof.

If you don’t use a patch, you will need duct tape to seal the hole. Just keep in mind that if the leak is on the seam of the inflatable, then duct tape and patches will not work due to the position.

Patch the Hole

Now that you’ve found the source of the leak and you’ve determined which tools you’re going to use to repair it, it’s time to patch up the hole.

Find the spot that you previously marked and generously apply the adhesive or sealant to the area. If using a patch or duct tape, make sure the piece is large enough to cover the surface area around the hole. Then, cover the hole with your patch or piece of duct tape.

Once the seal or patch has been applied, allow the area to completely dry before using the inflatable in water.

For visual, step-by-step instructions on repairing an inflatable leak, watch this short video:

Microplastics Have Reached the Deep Sea — in Monterey Bay

whale

Plastic pollution is no longer a surface level problem. Recent discoveries have uncovered that plastics have reached the deep sea. They’ve even been discovered in the deepest natural trench in the world.

What does this tell us? The critical state of plastic pollution is worsening. Plastics are now present throughout the entire ocean. And the harmful pollutants are closer to home than we once thought.

The Monterey Bay Study

A recent study conducted in Monterey Bay off the coast of Northern California found there are far more microplastics at the bottom of the sea than there are at the surface. A team of scientists tested the Bay’s water column to see how the concentration of plastic varied from the surface to the ocean floor. They found microplastics in every sample they took, and their samples showed that the highest concentrations of microplastics were located between 650 and 1,000 feet down. That’s four times as much plastic as they found at the surface.

Monterey Bay is a deep submarine canyon ecosystem. It’s an important conservation area for marine life, and part of the migratory path for gray whales and humpback whales. It is also part of the deep pelagic zone, the largest habitat on earth. Finding so much plastic here means there could be far more plastic than we know about in deep waters all over the world. These plastics will be far more difficult to remove than plastics floating near the surface.

Researchers determined that most of the plastic they found came from land, not from fishing activity. Additionally, the majority of the microplastics were plastic #1, or PET. This is the kind of plastic that is used in single-use items such as water bottles and takeout food containers.

How You Can Help

You can take action to prevent more single-use plastics washing into the ocean. Avoid plastic packaging when possible, and invest in a reusable water bottle, reusable drinking straws and reusable food-safe containers. Refusing is the first step to reducing pollution. When you can’t refuse, recycle! Learn what plastics we accept for recycling in our Recycling Guide.

Never Put Plastic Bags in Your Recycling — Here’s What You Can Do With Them Instead

plastic bag

Don’t put plastic bags in your recycling bin. If you do, they won’t get recycled. What’s worse, they’ll get tangled up in the machinery at our recycling facilities, which damages the machinery and endangers the workers who have to untangle them in order to get the machines working again.

That doesn’t mean you can’t recycle plastic bags, but they do take more effort. Some big box stores will collect them, and from there they are often recycled into plastic lumber. However, the closest stores to Lake County that recycle plastic bags are in Ukiah.

It’s better to recycle plastic bags than throw to them in the trash, because it’s easy for them to blow away at the landfill and become litter in the local environment and waterways. However, it’s better to put plastic bags in the trash than accidentally toss them in with your curbside recycling. Just make sure they are sealed tight within a heavy trash bag.

If you want to recycle your plastic bags, you can find plastic bag recycling containers at the following places in Ukiah:

Kohl’s
437 N Orchard Ave | (707) 462-2694
Map & Directions

Raley’s
1315 N State St | (707) 468-5178
Map & Directions

Plastic bags should be clean, dry and completely empty before being recycled. If a bag tears or crinkles, it’s not recyclable.

Remember that plastic bags include: