How To Be A Zero Waste College Student

It’s officially back to school season! For many incoming college students, it means packing up to live on their own for the first time as they head to campus dorms and apartments. Whether you are a freshman or heading back for another fun-filled year, moving into a college dorm is the perfect time to start implementing zero waste habits into your lifestyle. To help you get started, here are a few tips to live a zero waste lifestyle in your dorm!

Waste Less, Save More

While packing for college, think about what you already have! You probably own most of the items on your packing list. Start by packing your favorite blankets and pillows from home; this will help if you get homesick. Most campuses and residential communities have online, “Buy and Sell” Facebook groups where students can purchase used furniture, clothes, and books. Whether you are moving in or out of your dorm or apartment, make sure to check out these resources to reduce curb waste and save money. If you are unable to sell your furniture, donate it to a second-hand store instead of discarding it.

Bar soap and package-free shampoo are not always ideal options. However, metal tins (like these from Lush) are the perfect solution! These containers will help keep your soap clean in communal showers and reduce your plastic consumption. Also, consider purchasing multi-use products to reduce the amount of rigid plastic in your bathroom caddy. For example, coconut oil can be used as a conditioner, body lotion, and lip balm. Make sure to skip out on purchasing plastic loofas. Plastic loofas accumulate tons of bacteria and end up in landfills. Instead, DIY your own body scrub using natural alternatives! Lastly, make sure to switch out your plastic toothbrush for a biodegradable bamboo one!

Go from Fast Fashion to Sustainably Stylish

It’s a new year! Maybe your style changed, or maybe it’s time for an upgrade. Before shopping at fast-fashion retailers, think about the 26 trillion pounds of clothing and textiles that end up in landfills each year. Instead of falling victim to this growing trend, check out flea markets and thrift shops to maintain your zero-waste lifestyle.You can even plan a clothing swap party with your hometown friends before moving out! This is a great way to repurpose items that would have ended up in a landfill. While packing for college, make time to go through your entire wardrobe. Determine what clothes you wear regularly, and donate the rest. On your way to orientation, drop off old clothes at a second-hand store!

Remember college can be messy, so don’t invest in clothing you wouldn’t mind getting dirty. Also, don’t forget that you can share clothes with your roommate(s) (just make sure to ask before borrowing)! Lastly, bring a few old t-shirts! Instead of using paper towels, use old t-shirts as rags to wipe down your desk or clean windows.

Pass on the Plastics

What is every college student’s best friend? COFFEE. Unfortunately, most disposable coffee cups are lined with plastic, making them hard to recycle. Investing in a reusable bottle, such as a HydroFlask, is a great way to reduce this type of waste and save money! Most on-campus coffee shops will even give students discounts for bringing their own mugs.

Cooking in college can be a struggle. If you do not have access to a full kitchen, see if you can bring reusable containers to the dining halls. This way, you can avoid Styrofoam and plastic packaging, while saving money and helping the environment! If you like to snack while studying, try making these no-bake granola bites. These granola bites are not only the perfect study snack, but they are also healthy and waste free!

Rethink How You Write

We continue to live in an increasingly digital world. Instead of buying new notebooks, try going paperless next semester! Taking notes on a laptop can make studying and collaborating with your classmates easier. However, if you learn better by handwriting your notes, consider investing in a Rocketbook. These notebooks can digitally transcribe text.

College textbooks can be crazy expensive. One easy way to save money and reduce your waste is to purchase used textbooks, borrow old textbooks from your friends, or use an e-book. Another tip is to ask your professors if you can reuse blue books that still have blank pages in them!

Take Action!

Remember, in college, people won’t make fun of different lifestyle habits. Instead, they will want to ask questions, learn more, and educate themselves on zero waste habits! Meet friends starting their zero waste journey by joining clubs or volunteering at your campus’ sustainability center.

Unfortunately, not all college lifestyle habits can be easily translated into zero waste practices. For example, cheap ramen will normally be packaged in plastic (however, there are meal prep options when you are further along in your zero waste journey). What is important is that you are taking steps towards a more sustainable lifestyle and contributing to a healthier and greener future!

For more inspiration on how to find zero waste ideas, resources, and other waste reduction techniques, our one-stop database WasteFreeSD or calling our staff at 1-800-237-BLUE (1-800-237-2583) for incorporated residents or 1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784) for unincorporated residents will help answer any of your questions.

How to Be Sustainable 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. Unfortunately, when piecing together travel plans, green habits tend to turn a bit gray. Lucky for us, the reality of sustainable 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 anytime soon, be sure to minimize your ecological footprint in your home as much as possible while you’re 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 using electricity. That electricity being used is produced primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, about 60%, according to the U.S. 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 using power while you’re away. Check out these energy saving tips.

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 plane’s 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. 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 public transportation. 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 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climate Portal, public transportation emits far less greenhouse gas emissions compared to cars, due to the higher number of people buses can carry in one trip. On top of saving the environment from additional emissions, you also save yourself a few bucks with the average Amtrak ticket ranging from $20-$400 one-way depending on the distance traveled and how early you book, the price of domestic flight tickets, which are up 14% this year, and bus services such as Greyhound being considerably cheaper than both.

Long Distances

In the cases you find yourself traveling by air, be sure to fly the most direct route to your destination. Not only will this shorten your travel time, but it will also reduce your fuel consumption as you’re 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.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 an 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 4.6 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 into action one of the tips above you will be making a difference and be one step closer to traveling sustainably. Safe travels!

How To Host Your Own Sustainable BBQ This Summer

Summer is the season to fire up the grill and spend time with friends and family! Before you plan your next backyard BBQ, here are some great tips and easy swaps to keep your gathering sustainable while helping you to reduce waste along the way. 


Avoid purchasing pre-packaged or pre-made food items

Cut down on the amount of single-use plastics and create your own tasty recipes from home! You can use sites like Pinterest to get recipe inspiration. Or, to make things easier on the host, you can have a potluck, where all of your guests bring one homemade dish to share. 


Incorporate more fresh vegetable and fruit options

Eating a diet rich in leafy greens and fruits packed with vitamins is not only healthier for you, it is also healthier for our environment! Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other plant-based foods require less land and overall resources to grow and produce less greenhouse gas emissions compared to animal products you buy at the store. 


Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market

To make sure you’re getting the best quality and value during your next grocery trip, try purchasing from a local organic market or look for produce labels that have the location of where it was grown. The closer it’s grown in your region, the fresher it will be and you will be doing your part to support local farmers!


Buy local produce and sustainably sourced meat and fish

Be on the lookout for where your meat and fish are farmed or fished. Buy from local fish markets and check which fish are in season to help ensure a sustainable impact on fish populations is maintained. For meat and poultry, free-range, organic, and grass-fed options are best due to typically better living conditions and overall sustainable land management practices. Here are some local fish markets and farms in San Diego County: 


BYO reusables and avoid single-use plastic cutlery

Whether you’re hosting an outdoor barbeque or an intimate gathering with friends, avoid using single-use plastic cutlery. Using reusables will help reduce the amount of waste in our landfills, and will also save you money in the long run, instead of purchasing new single-use utensils and plates each time you host. You can buy reusable bamboo cutlery sets in bulk to have on hand. Encourage your guests to bring reusable containers for leftovers. 


Make your own drinks

Making your own beverages is an easy swap to make instead of using bottled and canned beverages, saves money, and is more fun! You can create your own cocktail (or mocktail) station for your guests to get creative and serve them in these festive glass jars with bamboo lids for a nice touch (plus, they are spill-proof!)


Cover up your charcoal grill when not using it or opt for cleaner fuel

Making conscious choices can start during the grilling process. A tight-fitting lid cooks meat faster and more evenly while using less fuel. Use reusable grilling tools and accessories like metal skewers. Use condiments and food that you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. If you’re looking to upgrade your grilling set-up, you can always purchase a gas grill that is more energy efficient and uses a cleaner fuel source.


Elementary Students Create the “Give Nature A Chance” Aerial Conservation Message at This Year’s Kids Ocean Day

Elementary Students Create the “Give Nature A Chance” Aerial Conservation Message at This Year’s Kids Ocean Day
I Love A Clean San Diego engaged students with ocean conservation education, a beach cleanup, and the aerial message for the 2023 edition of the annual event

San Diego, CA – May 26, 2023 – Kids Ocean Day, an inspiring event for youth that educates and engages elementary students in ocean conservation, took place yesterday and profoundly impacted the 1,000 participants with the beach cleanup and the extraordinary aerial art project. Mission Bay provided the scenic backdrop for the event where I Love A Clean San Diego hosted students from seven Title 1 schools from across the region. I Love A Clean San Diego joins four other California regions in connecting local youth to the environment for the annual Kids Ocean Day event.

“This year’s Kids Ocean Day is extra special, as it marks the event’s return to full capacity, which was previously held with limitations since 2019 due to the pandemic,” said Eric Dillemuth, Education Program Specialist at I Love A Clean San Diego.

The Kids Ocean Day program began weeks before yesterday’s culmination event, with educational presentations at eight elementary schools throughout the county. The beach cleanup provided students with first-hand experience in applying their ocean conservation knowledge. The students concluded their visit to the beach by creating a stunning aerial art message, spanning an impressive 230 230 ft., which spelled out the powerful statement, “Give Nature A Chance,” along with a jellyfish. The artwork served as an homage to nature’s resiliency and perseverance that occurred during the pandemic.

By providing an interactive experience, Kids Ocean Day was a catalyst for youth to actively care for their environment, instilling a sense of responsibility and encouraging a lifestyle that fosters the well-being of our region. For many of these students, it was their first visit to the beach, creating a memorable experience that will inspire them to become lifelong stewards of the environment.

“We are proud to support Kids Ocean Day, a program that connects youth to the environment and demonstrates the critical role they play in preserving its health,” said Susan Day, President of Kiwanis San Diego.

This year’s Kids Ocean Day was made possible through the generous support of the California Coastal Commission, San Diego Kiwanis Club Foundation, Cox Communications, and Wells Fargo.

About I Love A Clean San Diego
Founded in 1954, I Love A Clean San Diego is an environmental nonprofit supporting residents and businesses of San Diego County through youth and adult education, and local action through impactful volunteer events and workshops. As San Diego’s most influential advocate for sustainability, I Love A Clean San Diego’s programs are an environmental catalyst, awakening passion and inspiring action to empower everyone to be leaders in conservation and waste-free living. Our community is passion in action to maintain and improve the health of the home we love. For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit or call (619) 291-0103. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram , and LinkedIn.

I Love A Clean San Diego to Place 200 Temporary Bins Along San Diego Beaches Over Busy Holiday Weekends in 2023

I Love A Clean San Diego to Place 200 Temporary Bins Along San Diego Beaches Over Busy Holiday Weekends in 2023
Waste and Recycling Bins Will be Placed Along San Diego Beaches during the Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day Weekends.

SAN DIEGO, CA (May 16, 2023) – I Love A Clean San Diego’s Clean Beach Coalition will place 200 temporary waste and recycling bins on San Diego’s busiest beaches and bays over long holiday weekends to handle the expected excess litter. Now in its 16th year, these temporary bins placed by the Clean Beach Coalition have helped keep 3.5 million pounds of litter off of San Diego beaches and out of the ocean.

Over the busy holiday weekends, San Diego beaches see a spike in visitors, both locals and tourists and permanent trash receptacles often overflow with large amounts of litter. To alleviate the excess and reduce marine debris and pollution, the Coalition places bins along San Diego’s most heavily trafficked beaches: Mission Beach, Mission Bay, and Pacific Beach over Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day weekends.

Marine debris poses a serious health threat to local wildlife and negatively impacts water quality. Single-use plastics are the most dangerous pollutant, which breaks down into microplastics. In turn, microplastics can be ingested by animals and humans. In 2022, nearly 70% of all the litter removed during I Love A Clean San Diego’s community and countywide cleanups was a form of plastic or single-use item.

Plan Your Visit to the Beach
Help prevent litter along our coast.

I Love A Clean San Diego encourages beachgoers to prepare ahead of time to reduce the amount of waste! You can help keep our beaches clean by replacing disposable single-use items with reusable items:

  • Instead of Styrofoam containers or single-use plastic cups of any kind, use hard plastic items, metal coolers, insulated bags, and beach-safe cups as alternatives.
  • Eliminate sandwich bags and food wrappers by shopping in bulk and packing reusable food storage containers.
  • Refuse plastic utensils and do not take them from restaurants. Instead, bring and use reusable options such as bamboo or silverware from home!
  • Avoid plastic bags, and swap them with a stylish tote or canvas bag.

The Clean Beach Coalition is possible thanks to our 2023 partners: The Coca-Cola Company, Think Blue San DiegoPacific Beach Shore Club, San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and Bank of America. The Coalition is powered by I Love A Clean San Diego, Urban Corps, and the City of San Diego. Conservation, education, and workforce development blend for a program that provides a range of meaningful impacts. By employing Corps members, the Coalition supports Urban Corps’ mission to provide thousands of young adults the opportunity to improve themselves while improving their communities. Additional information about the Clean Beach Coalition is available at


About I Love A Clean San Diego
Founded in 1954, I Love A Clean San Diego is an environmental nonprofit supporting residents and businesses of San Diego County through youth and adult education, and local action through impactful volunteer events and workshops. As San Diego’s most influential advocate for sustainability, I Love A Clean San Diego’s programs are an environmental catalyst, awakening passion and inspiring action to empower everyone to be leaders in conservation and waste-free living. Our community is passion in action to maintain and improve the health of the home we love. For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit or call (619) 291-0103. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram , and LinkedIn.

Looking To Move? Donation and Recycling Guide for Residents Moving Out of a Home

We all know moving can be stressful. Before you think about throwing items into the dumpster that will eventually find their way into our local landfills, we have some tips to make your move more efficient (and hopefully more stress-free)! The key is to stay organized and plan ahead.

Bedrooms & Home Offices

Donate your bedroom and home office furniture to your local thrift store and call to confirm if it offers bulky item pick-up. Bed mattresses and bed frames should be recycled through a participating Bye Bye Mattress recycling program location.

Donate clothes that are in a good/reusable condition to a local thrift store. Clothes, sheets, towels, etc. that are torn, stained, or old, should be recycled through a local textile recycling program.

Electronics that are no longer working (also known as electronic waste or e-waste) include items such as televisions, radios, telephones, cell phones, and printers. Many recycling locations will accept electronic waste at no cost and collection events are available for select neighborhoods on specific dates and times. Working electronics should be taken to a local thrift store.

Tip: Electronic waste does not include fluorescent light bulbs/tubes (they contain mercury) and any type of batteries. 

Bonus Tip: Remove all sensitive information from hard drives before donating or recycling.



Working or newer appliances can be taken to organizations that reuse or resell appliances like Habitat for Humanity ReStore locations. For any non-working appliance, drop-off at a local scrap metal recycler.

If items like dishes, pots, pans, and silverware are in reusable/good condition, donate them to a local thrift store. If the item is stainless steel and is old/overused, take it to a scrap metal recycler.

Cleaning products like all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants, degreasers and stain remover are considered household hazardous waste and should be disposed of at a collection facility. 

All non-perishable food should be dropped off at a local food bank.



Loose medication can be put into plastic bags then deposited at kiosks located at participating San Diego County Sheriff’s departments. Please ensure any liquid medication is enclosed in secure containers before depositing and please remove any personal information from medicine bottles. Prescription drug take back days occur twice a year. Permanent drop-off locations are available at participating sheriff’s stations or police departments. 

Needles/sharps should be transported to a proper collection center in a rigid, puncture resistant, and tightly sealed container. Some examples of proper containers include bleach bottles, liquid detergent bottles, or coffee cans with lids. Containers should be no larger than 2 liters or 1/2 gallon. Label the container “Needles” or “Sharps” before disposing of it at an approved residential needles/sharps collection drop box or at your local household hazardous waste collection facility.

Garage/ Shed 

Hand tools and power tools can be donated to a local thrift store or recycled at participating locations. Certain gardening tools powered by gasoline such as a lawnmower will have to be completely drained before donating or recycling. 

The following products typically found in the household like gardening chemicals and automotive fluids are considered household hazardous waste: 

  • Fertilizer 
  • Pesticide 
  • Herbicide 
  • Insecticide 
  • Motor oil
  • Gasoline 
  • Antifreeze 
  • Batteries 
  • Flight bulbs/tubes 
  • Paint Household hazardous waste should be taken to a designated household hazardous waste collection facility.  

Additional Information

Looking to sell or give away an item? Donating and recycling are not the only options! Residents can host a garage sale or attend a swap meet to sell or trade items. Many websites and apps also allow users to post items to sell or to give away for free, including:


Tips on how to reduce the need for cardboard boxes

  • Remember to pack up your belongings in containers you already have such as reusable bags, dresser drawers, or suitcases
  • Start saving up cardboard boxes a couple of months ahead of time. 
  • Check some of the donation sites listed above to look for any additional cardboard boxes. 
  • Any reusable cardboard boxes should be donated. Find a location at
  • Remember to recycle leftover cardboard boxes in the blue recycling bin. Please break down the box before recycling it.  


Plan early

  • All household hazardous waste collection facilities require proof of residency and an appointment. Have an inventory of everything you plan to drop off, including quantities and the condition of your items, before calling to make an appointment. 
  • Some thrift stores offer free pick-up, but there may be a wait time of up to a month to receive service. Plan accordingly. 
  • Remove all personal information from electronics, prescription medication bottles, sensitive documents, etc., before donating or recycling. 

To review a list of what can go in the curbside recycling bin, find recycling centers, donation locations, and local household hazardous waste collection facilities, or for waste reduction guides, visit

Results Begin to Come in for the 21st Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup

Results Begin to Come in for the 21st Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup
Over 5,000 registered volunteers of all ages at 107 sites took part in the region’s largest environmental cleanup on Earth Day.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY (April 22, 2023) –  As of 3 p.m. today, I Love A Clean San Diego reports more than 5,000 registered volunteers have removed over 57,000 pounds of litter and debris from streets, canyons, parks, and the coastline in communities across San Diego County for the 21st Annual Creek to Bay Cleanup. Results are still coming in from the 107 sites across San Diego County.

“Although numbers from cleanup sites are still coming in, we can safely say we have reached our goal this year,” said Ann Marie Sack, Director of Community Engagement at I Love A Clean San Diego. “We are thankful for all the volunteers, from all corners of San Diego County, who celebrated Earth Day with us at Creek to Bay this year.”

San Diego City Council presented a proclamation in honor of Creek to Bay’s 21st anniversary and for the significant impact the countywide event has had in preserving San Diego’s environment since its inception in 2002. Elected officials kicked off Creek to Bay at a site within their district.

“Our beaches and waterways are some of San Diego’s greatest assets and deserve our care,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “This family-friendly event has a positive impact on our region’s environment.”

Plastic in all its forms remains the chief pollutant found at the annual Earth Week event. In 2022, nearly 70% of all the litter removed from community and countywide cleanups was a form of plastic or single-use item. Volunteers included residents, corporate groups, community groups, and other regional environmental organizations, who diverted litter and debris across all sites from reaching our neighborhoods, creeks, bays, and ocean.

Among the most notable items collected were a doggy bed, Easter eggs, stop signs, a BBQ grill, a bullet case, and a lobster net.

Residents that were not able to participate in today’s Creek to Bay cleanup can still join I Love A Clean San Diego in creating a healthier, more vibrant region by making a gift or starting a fundraiser at

The Creek to Bay Cleanup is one of two annual countywide cleanups hosted by I Love A Clean San Diego. The next major cleanup event is International Coastal Cleanup Day on September 23, 2023.

I Love A Clean San Diego is grateful for the support of the 21st annual Creek to Bay Partners:
Think Blue San Diego, County of San Diego and its Watershed Protection Program, COX, Project Clean Water, Bank of America, illumina, PlayStation, Sempra Infrastructure, Sony, Watkins Wellness, Wells Fargo, ecoATM, City of Imperial Beach, Mitch’s Seafood, Ocean Conservancy, San Diego Regional Airport Authority, Sycuan, Team SEAS & Ocean Conservancy Small Grant Award, City of Chula Vista, City of El Cajon, City of La Mesa, City of San Marcos, Port of San Diego, and Audacy.

About I Love A Clean San Diego County
Founded in 1954, I Love A Clean San Diego County (ILACSD) is an environmental nonprofit on a mission to foster zero waste lifestyles and beautify communities throughout the region. ILACSD serves about 90,000 students, adults, and businesses every year through environmental education, volunteer cleanup and beautification programs, and recycling and zero waste resources for the public. Annually, the organization hosts approximately 900 workshops and produces 600 community cleanups. Community cleanups are responsible for clearing nearly half a million pounds of pollution from the region annually. ILACSD is dedicated to empowering every person to be leaders in conservation and waste-free living to protect and improve the health of the home we love. Connect with us at,  FacebookTwitterInstagram , and LinkedIn.

I Love A Clean San Diego Provides Spring Cleaning and Recycling Resources to San Diego County Residents

I Love A Clean San Diego Provides Spring Cleaning and Recycling Resources to San Diego County Residents
The database has thousands of recycling, donation, and repair centers throughout the region.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY (April 26, 2023) – As the spring cleaning season begins, I Love A Clean San Diego (ILACSD) and the County of San Diego remind residents of the free database and proper recycling practices.

I Love A Clean San Diego encourages residents to practice reuse, reduce, donate, and repair to limit the number of items that end up in the landfill. Residents can use I Love A Clean San Diego’s free online database,, which provides information on thousands of centers throughout the region.  The free database includes a wealth of options on how to properly dispose of or recycle unwanted items as well as donation and repair centers. The R1 Earth Hotline is also available for residents who have questions or may need help locating a center near them. Hours run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday thru Friday.  Incorporated city residents please call 1-800-237-2583, and unincorporated residents may call 1-877-713-2784.

“By using the database to locate centers for proper disposal and recycling of unwanted items, individuals will be contributing to fewer materials reaching the landfill while making a significant, positive impact on the environment,” said Ann Marie Sack, Director of Community Engagement. “ is also home to our blog which contains resources to help inspire residents to reuse or repair items.”

Although many common household items can be recycled, placing the correct items in the blue bin is important. Proper recycling practices ensure items remain valuable, make it through the recycling process, and reduce the hazard to workers and machinery at recycling facilities (MRFs). There are four main groups of materials that San Diego county residents can place in their blue recycling bins:

Paper, cardboard, and cartons: This includes newspapers and magazines; flattened cardboard; containers made of paper; and milk, juice, and soup cartons. Items like tissues and napkins are not recyclable but can be placed in your organic waste bin (green cart).

Plastic bottles and containers: Items include plastic bottles, cups, tubs & containers; foam blocks; and clamshells containers. Plastic caps must be left on plastic bottles to make it through the recycling process.

Plastic bags, bubble wrap and plastic mailers are recyclable but should NEVER be placed in your blue bins. These materials can be returned to participating retailers or reused.

Glass bottles and jars: Any color glass jar or bottle. Window glass, ceramics, or drinking glasses do not belong in the blue bin. Consider donating usable drinking glasses.

Metal and aluminum cans and foil: Steel and aluminum; bottles and cans; empty aerosol cans; aluminum trays and foil. Paint cans do not belong in the blue bin unless the paint is dry and container is empty.

“When San Diego county residents Recycle Right, everyone wins,” says Steve Weihe, Recycling Specialist for the County of San Diego.  “The MRF receives cleaner, more valuable material which results in lower operating costs due to less contamination. Our paper, cardboard and cartons, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and containers, and metal and aluminum cans and foil then become new products that manufacturers want and need.  Keeping items like plastic bags, clothing, hoses, liquids and electronic waste out of the blue bin is essential.”

To Recycle Right, residents should follow three simple steps:

  • EMPTY-No or minimal food residue left
  • DRY-No liquids remaining
  • LOOSE-Recyclables must be placed in the bin loose, not bagged

Film plastics like grocery bags and bread bags; tanglers like textiles and hoses; organic waste; and household hazardous waste (HHW) such as batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and electronics DO NOT belong in the blue bin.

Residents can find recycling guides on the County’s website and learn about sustainable practices by registering for one of I Love A Clean San Diego’s workshops and webinars at

About I Love A Clean San Diego

Founded in 1954, I Love A Clean San Diego is an environmental nonprofit supporting residents and businesses of San Diego County through youth and adult education, and local action through impactful volunteer events and workshops. As San Diego’s most influential advocate for sustainability, I Love A Clean San Diego’s programs are an environmental catalyst, awakening passion and inspiring action to empower everyone to be leaders in conservation and waste-free living. Our community is passion in action to maintain and improve the health of the home we love. For more information, to volunteer or donate, visit or call (619) 291-0103. Connect with us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.


Spring Cleaning 101: Household Hazardous Waste

Spring brings sunshine, flowers, and… Cleaning!

While there is no better time to freshen up and declutter your home, you might run into some items that you might not know what to do with. If you come across clothing you no longer want, toys, sports equipment, or any household items you no longer use, visit to find a nearby option, such as thrift shops or food banks to donate items that can be re-used rather than ending up in a landfill. You can also sell or give away your items through neighborhood apps and online markets like Nextdoor or OfferUP.

Household Hazardous Waste (HHW)

When cleaning your home you may come across toxic, flammable, corrosive, or otherwise hazardous materials when cleaning out your garage or shed. Household Hazardous Waste is waste generated by home residents while performing household activities and maintenance around your home that contain toxic chemicals. You can identify HHW from warnings on the product label. Cleaners, solvents, old paint, pesticides, and other chemicals must be disposed of properly. Improper disposal methods, such as throwing them into the trash, pouring them down the drain or abandoning them, could lead to serious accidents, contamination of our water supply, and adverse health impacts.

HHW Facilities

You can easily dispose of your HHW items AT NO COST at a local Household Hazardous Waste facility. If you are a City of San Diego resident, you can dispose of Household Hazardous Waste at the Miramar Household Hazardous Waste Facility, located at the entrance of the Miramar Landfill (5161 Convoy Street, 92111, north of State Route 52). The facility is open on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. by appointment only, and there is a transportation limit of 15 gallons or 125 pounds (per vehicle). Call the City of San Diego Environmental Services Department (858-694-7000) to make your appointment today or schedule an appointment online.


If you are a resident living in other cities in San Diego County, or the unincorporated part of San Diego County, there are other Household Hazardous Waste Facilities and services available to you. The Ramona and Escondido HHW Facilities are great options to drop off your HHW. To find the closest drop off location and to get other recycling questions answered, visit San Diego County’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database at or call 1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784).

Common HHW Items

Aerosol Spray Cans (if they are EMPTY they can be recycled in your blue bin at home)
Brake Fluid
Cell Phones (and Batteries)
Fire Retardant Chemicals
Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Fluorescent Light Tubes
Hair Dye
Household Cleaners
Lighter Fluid
Nail Polish
Nail Polish Removers
Syringes / Needles
Paint Stripper
Paint Thinner
Photographic Chemicals
Pool Chemicals
Propane Tanks
Smoke Detectors
Transmission Fluid
Used Motor Oil
Wood Stain

Tips for Planting Native Plants

Happy spring! As the weather gets warmer and the days become brighter, this time of the year becomes the perfect opportunity to add new plants to your garden. 

If you like gardening, choosing to plant native plants from your region can help you save on water, fertilizers, and pesticides. Native plants easily adapt to new environments and are uncomplicated to take care of. If you have native plants at home, you eliminate the use of mowers and big water bills. They grow in harmony with the environment and self-sustain over time. Set the right conditions for your native plants to thrive and watch a beautiful garden unfold in and around your house. 

Below are some tips on how to get started planting natives.

  • Get Familiar with native plants. 

Check how big native plants grow, what they look like, and which grow in areas similar to your yard. Access these online Native Planting Guides and Native Gardening Resources by the California Native Plant Society for a complete list of native plants organized by region or visit you local botanical garden!

  • Group plants with similar needs. 

An easy way to organize your native garden is to determine each plant’s need for shade or sun. Usually, California native plants need adequate drainage and uncrowded conditions. Group together based on their needs.

  • Incorporate other natural features.

Get creative and add some boulders, rocks, pebbles, stones, or mounds around your plants. Check out this article about Landscaping Ideas with Rocks and how to add some unique character to your backyard!


  • Consider when you are planting.

Planting in late fall is optimal, but winter and spring also have ideal conditions. Avoid planting during the heat of the summer and give plants enough time to grow strong before peak weather season. 


  • Fire Safety Plants

Given that native plants are small in size, low to the ground, and have limited water needs, these types of gardens are a safe choice against fire. Native plants don’t contain oils or resins that are best in areas of high fire risk. Check your local nursery for more advice on fire-resistant plants best for your area.

Happy gardening! Please consider throwing your yard waste into the green organics bin. Visit and find more information about Green Bins and organic waste services available to your home!