Reduce Your Waste This Halloween: DIY Tips and Tricks

Reduce Your Waste This Halloween: DIY Tips and Tricks

For both young and old, Halloween means dressing up as a cute critter, vicious vampire, or wicked witch. It’s a time to host parties, carve pumpkins, decorate haunted houses, and escape into a supernatural world for one night. Halloween is a fun tradition, but it is also one of the least environmentally friendly holidays. Considering the candy wrappers, decorations, and costumes made out of non-biodegradable materials, there are plenty of ways to reduce your impact this Halloween. Here are some eco-friendly tips to make your Halloween and earth-friendly.


There are a few ways you can reduce the environmental impact of Halloween costumes: Bring out your inner creativity by designing your own costume using unwanted items or old clothing. Click here for ideas. Replace face masks with these natural face paints with reusable containers, and create fake blood using corn syrup and food coloring. You can also make a trip to your local thrift store to find materials that you might need and maybe even find the costume that you’ve been looking for!



Instead of buying another plastic pumpkin to hold all the tasty treats, try replacing it with a reusable shopping bag, pillow case, or basket this year!


Halloween decorations are arguably the most wasteful part of Halloween, as they tend to contain excessive amounts of plastic. Try making your own! You’ll not only save money but the environment as well! Pinterest always has a wealth of great DIY ideas to get you started. 

Examples of DIY decorations include making bats out of egg cartons or floating ghosts using unwanted white linen sheets. You can also create light-up tin cans/lanterns by poking holes in a soup can to create an image, then placing tea lights inside to make it glow.


To Give or Not to Give (Candy)

If your house gets a lot of trick-or-treaters every year, consider buying organic and non-GMO candy such as YumEarth. This is healthier than the conventional store-bought candy and better for the environment because it doesn’t contain pesticides or chemicals.

Alternatively, you can also try giving out other types of treats, such as bracelets made out of recycled flip-flops or compostable pencils, which will grow into herbs or flowers when you plant them. These treats are more eco-friendly and might even help children learn a thing or two about sustainability!

Pumpkin Disposal

If you are an EDCO customer, you can also put your pumpkins in the green bin if they are clean and unpainted. For the City of San Diego residents, they can be placed inside the organic waste recycling green bins. For additional information, please visit the search tool and use the keyword “pumpkins” to find a disposal location in your area.

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!

Sunset Sweep: Manzanita Canyon Cleanup 2/23/2023

Join I Love A Clean San Diego, San Diego Canyonlands, and Think Blue San Diego for a litter cleanup in Manzanita Canyon! We will divert litter from the San Diego Bay Watershed and keep it from traveling to the Pacific Ocean.

Our staff will be set-up with a check-in table at The Manzanita Gathering Place. Join us at 3pm to learn about the canyon and recycling right, then grab supplies and help us clean up!

This event requires a signed release-of-liability waiver for all volunteers, and anyone under 18 needs a waiver signed by a guardian.

38th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day

38th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day

Free online registration opens on September 1, 2022.

Join hundreds of thousands of volunteers all over the world by participating in the 38th Annual Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 17th, 2022. Register to be a part of the largest single day environmental action event in San Diego County by removing polluting litter and debris from your community.

By joining forces with I Love A Clean San Diego and getting out in your local community to remove trash, you can support your neighborhood and protect our San Diego watersheds. Volunteers of all ages are invited to grab buckets and work gloves and join one of our 75+ site locations across San Diego County. No matter where you live in the county, every gutter, street, parking lot, park, canyon and beach is in one of the county’s 11 watersheds. The health of these systems means healthier creeks and ocean for all of us!

Registration opens Thursday, September 1 at

Officially sign up on September 1, 2022 and get ready to clean up San Diego County on September 17th. Registered volunteers will receive important safety and site resources and information to have a successful cleanup. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator, Kristin Banks, to register by phone if you do not have internet access: (619)787.4448 Throughout the month of September, we will share event updates and more to prepare you for the big day. Learn more about Troop patches, community service verification, and more at

Morning After Mess Cleanup

Join I Love A Clean San Diego for a litter cleanup at Fiesta Island! We are partnering with Surfrider San Diego to clean up around Mission Bay after the celebratory July 4th weekend.

Our staff will be set-up with a check-in table at Fiesta Sunset Beach. Join us at 9am to grab supplies and help us clean up!

This event requires a signed release-of-liability waiver for all volunteers, and anyone under 18 needs a waiver signed by a guardian.

World Ocean Day Cleanup at La Jolla Shores

The Shops at La Jolla Village are throwing a party, and you are invited!

To celebrate World Ocean Day, Join I Love A Clean San Diego and The Shops at La Jolla Village for a beach cleanup at La Jolla Shores. We will start with a cleanup at La Jolla Shores to pay tribute to the ocean, and then celebrate at the Shops at La Jolla Village with free samples and activities.

This event requires a signed release-of-liability waiver for all volunteers, and anyone under 18 needs a waiver signed by a guardian.

Learn more and register here!

Recycle Right for the Holidays: A Guide for Eco-Friendly Practices and Recycling This Gifting Season


Recycle Right for the Holidays: A Guide for Eco-Friendly Practices and Recycling This Gifting Season

Join the upcoming holiday webinar Celebrate Sustainably: Gifts and Glitz on December 8, 2021.

Getting back together with family and friends is cause for celebration. As we enjoy a season full of holiday traditions I Love A Clean San Diego offers some ideas to reduce holiday waste that occurs during this joyous time.

From shopping bags to increased packaging from online shopping, and giftwrap to food, Americans generate 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. This equates to an extra one million tons of waste generated per week nationwide during the holidays. However, much of this waste can be recycled or reused.

If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.

Gifting and festivities can still be special and memorable while reducing waste and recycling right.

Join Us for the Gifts and Glitz Webinar

Join I Love A Clean San Diego for tips and inspiration at the “Celebrate Sustainably: Gifts and Glitz” webinar on Wednesday, December 8 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Online registration is open now to attend the fun and informative event. I Love A Clean San Diego’s education team will bring creative ideas to reducing waste and recycling, while keeping the spirit of the season alive.

Batteries, Bah Humbug

Americans use more than three billion batteries each year and about 40 percent of all battery sales in the U.S. occur during the holiday season. Batteries are considered Household Hazardous Waste. When not properly handled or recycled, batteries corrode and leach toxic chemicals like lithium, cadmium, sulfuric acid and lead. These chemicals can contaminate soil and groundwater. Some of these elements, like lithium, are limited in supply and need to be recaptured.

Here are suggestions to help reduce battery waste
1. Skip the single-use alkaline batteries. If you do, please collect and recycle them properly.
2. Buy rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries pay for themselves many times over and can easily be recycled for free after they reach the end of their useful life.
3. For both single-use and rechargeable batteries, use the free search tool at to find a drop off location near you.

Low Waste Gift Giving

When thinking about holiday gift shopping, consider the entire life cycle of your purchases. How long will the person receiving this gift actually use it? Will it be memorable and useful, or will they forget about it by next year? Gift giving can be a wonderful opportunity to express love and appreciation, but it can also slip into feeling like a mandatory practice – “I don’t know what to get them, but I have to get them something” mentality. Here are some ideas for low waste, mindful gift giving.

Take the Love Languages Quiz with your friends and family to determine how meaningful gifts actually are to each of you. Does a friend prefer serving others rather than being on the receiving end? Would your family member value quality time more than an item? Knowing this may change what you gift them.

Try shifting the focus away from “stuff.” Check out this graphic on and this Zero Waste Guide to Holiday Gifts.

Here are some low-waste gift ideas and technologies to consider.
• Give away items you do not need anymore. The new Good Use App, designed right here in San Diego, allows you to give your gently used items a second life. Sign up for the Good Use App here.
• Experiences: Memberships or subscriptions, tickets, classes, or pre-planned adventures and excursions
• Time: Making a home-cooked meal, helping with car or yard maintenance, “get out of a chore” or “design your perfect day” passes for kids
• Donations on their behalf to a cause or organization they’re passionate about
• Second-hand items: The most sustainable item you can buy is the one that already exists. Used items can still be high quality and in practically new condition. Aside from thrift stores, the Good Use App, Facebook Marketplace, Offerup, and Buy Nothing can be good online sources to check regularly.
• Zero waste tools: Help your loved one live more sustainably with items such as cotton produce bags, handkerchiefs, reusable makeup wipes, dryer balls, or a refillable growler.
• Items: If buying a new item, opt for locally made products and items made from reclaimed materials, such as upcycled skateboard sunglasses, dog leashes from retired climbing rope, and reclaimed wood picture frames

Gift Wrapping

Many traditional gift-wrapping materials, such as ribbon, bows, and cellophane, are not recyclable in your blue bins. To help sort out what is recyclable during the holidays, check out the Don’t Take a Holiday from Recycling flyer from the County of San Diego.

Stick to these recyclable items when wrapping presents
• Paper wrap without metallic and glitter designs
• Paper gift bags
• Cardboard boxes
• Paper cards and envelopes
• Glass jars are great for DIY gifts

These materials cannot be recycled in your curbside bin so please avoid or reuse them
• Metallic, glossy and glitter-covered wrapping paper
• Ribbons, bows, and twine
• Polystyrene packing peanuts
• Cards on glossy photo paper
• Plastic bags and film (return to participating stores for recycling)
• Tissue paper

Reuse supplies you have on hand, such as cardboard shipping boxes, tissue paper from a new pair of shoes, and paper bags from the store. There is no shame in reusing a gift bag; the person on the receiving end will not know the difference.

There are so many ways to get creative with repurposing materials, so have fun with it! See this as an opportunity to customize the gift to the person. For example, check out this tutorial to learn how to make bows out of magazine pages. If you are feeling extra adventurous, give the Furoshiki cloth-wrapping method a try.

Recycling and Proper Disposal

Keep these recycling tips and resources in mind.

• Recycling Right – When sorting through and putting away decorations and gifts, remember to dispose of items properly. Recycle only accepted materials in your curbside blue bin. In general, this includes paper, cardboard and cartons, plastic bottles and containers, glass bottles and jars, and metal and aluminum cans and foil. For more information on what is recyclable, visit the County of San Diego’s recycling page.

Common holiday items that can be recycled include cardboard gift boxes, plastic bottles and containers, glass jars, and brown paper wrap. Remember to keep these items empty, dry, and loose.

• Batteries and other household hazardous waste – Separate out hazardous items such as batteries and lights. These CANNOT go into the trash or recycling bins. Check for a comprehensive list of hazardous items and find drop-off locations in your area.

• Christmas tree recycling – After the holidays, remember to recycle your fresh-cut tree and help close the loop, returning the tree to the earth as mulch. County of San Diego residents are encouraged to recycle their Christmas trees as soon as possible to reduce fire danger and minimize the amount of holiday waste sent to the landfill. In addition to dozens of community drop-off sites, many local waste and recycling haulers offer curbside tree and wreath pick-up. These trees and wreaths are ground into mulch, which is then used to improve soil health, reduce evaporation and erosion. Visit or call 1-811-R-1-EARTH for more information and a complete list of drop-off locations.

Incorporating zero waste into your holiday planning may take some time and thought at first, but once these habits are implemented, they can reduce stress, save money, and allow you to focus on what is most important about the holiday season-spending time with those we love.

San Diego River Days Community Cleanup

Join I Love A Clean San Diego, the San Diego River Park Foundation, and SDG&E for a virtually-hosted litter cleanup across the San Diego River Watershed! We will pick-up litter from the communities throughout the watershed and divert it from the Pacific Ocean.

These cleanups are currently virtually-hosted; we are not gathering or meeting in a specific location. Instead, you can do a fun and flexible cleanup on your terms. While we are targeting the communities across this specific watershed, you are welcome to clean up wherever and with whomever you feel comfortable.

Invite your neighbors and practice social distancing. Bring a bucket and gardening gloves from home, and wear your face-covering. You can make this cleanup zero-waste by using your own supplies!

Register now to receive e-mail resources and event details, including special information about the San Diego River Watershed.

We will also be gifting some “Drop in the Bucket” upcycled cleanup kits to registered volunteers before the cleanup, courtesy of SDG&E. Each kit contains an upcycled 5-gal bucket and grabber. When you register you’ll be automatically entered to win a kit you can use for this cleanup and beyond!

Watch the kick-off video you get in your e-mail, then clean up in the neighborhood and use your household cans for disposal. Afterwards, log your totals and request a Letter of Appreciation for your service – it’s that easy!

Watershed Warriors: Spring Valley Community Cleanup

Join I Love A Clean San Diego and the County of San Diego for a virtually-hosted litter cleanup in the Spring Valley community! We will pick-up litter from the community and divert it from the San Diego Bay watershed and Pacific Ocean.

These cleanups are currently virtually-hosted; we are not gathering or meeting in a specific location. Instead, you can do a fun and flexible cleanup on your terms. While we are targeting this specific community, you are welcome to clean up wherever and with whomever you feel comfortable.

Invite your neighbors and practice social distancing. Bring a bucket and gardening gloves from home, and wear your face-covering. You can make this cleanup zero-waste by using your own supplies!

Sign-up to get instructions directly to your e-mail. Watch our kick-off video, then clean up in the neighborhood and use your household cans for disposal. Afterwards, log your totals and request a Letter of Appreciation for your service – it’s that easy!

Register today!