WasteFreeSD tips for a weekend off the grid

Erika-teamToday’s blog comes from ILACSD’s Education Manager and outdoor enthusiast, Erika! In preparation for Memorial Day Weekend, one of the busiest times of the year for San Diego’s outdoor spaces, Erika has put together her top eco camping tips! Whether you’re going to the beach or the desert, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your holiday weekend!


Summer is approaching, and with that, you will most likely find me outside camping.  One thing that really bothers me when I am in nature is seeing trash. To do my part, I try to camp, zero waste style. At first, I thought it would be difficult to ditch granola bars and instant coffee but realized I am much healthier and happier when making less waste. The most important thing is to plan ahead and be prepared.

Zero waste food - eco camping
Do some meal prep before your trip to save time and minimize waste!

When it comes to camping, most waste is generated with food. We have become so reliant on the convenience of instant meals but rarely think of the health and environmental implications. To combat this, follow these eco tips:

Stove: Between me and my friends, we have a Jet Boil and camping stove, making cooking a synch. Take it one step further: buy your gear used! Check out Geartrade.org or your local REI for great used deals!

Utensils: A lot of people bring disposables when camping and picnicking but it is incredibly easy to wash your dishes at the campground. To save on water, I bring a tub to contain that water. Remember to use biodegradable soap!

mesh bag - bulk
Reusable bags are great for produce and bulk food items like coffee and trail mix!

Snacks: Buy ahead of time and in bulk. When buying in bulk, I bring my reusable mesh produce bags to limit my plastic use. Recently, I made a bunch of these bags with different materials and sizes. These bags also make light weight snack bags, when hiking, so I don’t need to use resealable (Ziploc) bags. Click here for instructions to make your own! If sewing isn’t your thing, you can buy them here.

Coffee: Yes, this is a whole separate line…you can buy coffee in bulk, bringing your own produce bag and use a French Press. Another option is getting instant coffee that comes in a glass jar and you can reuse the jar!

Other beverages: Either grab your growler and head to the local brewery or go for cans in a box. Saint Archer and Ballast Point, both sell 6 packs in cardboard boxes, which you can use for a fire starter.

Reduce your use. Fill a growler!

Water: Invest in a reusable water container – they have any size, and with any material – glass, stainless steel, plastic – you name it!

Ice: I tend to shy away from packing items that need ice, so I don’t find this too big of a problem. If you want a cold one, though, use reusable ice packs – you can even make yourself!

Love campfires? Check out these DIY fire starters using toilet paper rolls and dryer lint!

Cleanup: Most people use paper towels, which you can burn in the fire. I gravitate toward bandanas and reusable kitchen towels.

When camping, I have found that I typically use a couple of trash bags, primarily for food scraps and recycling cans. Other than that, I am waste free! Obviously, I am a little more extreme; however, with planning ahead, we can all make a difference in our environment!

If you are more of the staycation type, and plan to hit the beach over this holiday weekend, be sure to keep an eye out for our Clean Beach Coalition bins! Millions of people will visit San Diego’s beaches to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend. To ensure that everyone has a way to conveniently dispose of trash, we place temporary trash and recycling bins throughout Mission Bay, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach. The bins will also be out over the 4th of July and Labor Day.P1050996

And if you’d like to volunteer with us after the holiday weekend to pick up any litter that didn’t make its way into the trash can, we’ll be out at Tamarack State Beach in Carlsbad the Tuesday after Memorial Day. To sign up, click here.


Nearby Nature: Connecting Underserved Kids with the Environment

Today’s post comes from our Education Coordinator, Erika Bjorkquist Erika-team

One great thing about San Diego is the access to nature. Scattered throughout its urban areas are canyons, preserves, and open space, so no matter where you live, nature is at your fingertips. While the natural world is within our reach, many people are not aware of the benefits of spending time in nature or even its proximity to their communities. Through our Nearby Nature program, ILACSD hopes that students become more familiar with their surroundings and enjoy their local environment.

Literally reaching new heights in environmental education!
Getting a closer look at the natural world

Research is showing that children need connections with nature as part of their healthy growth and development. Though nature is beneficial, children are spending less time outdoors. This disconnection can add to health problems like obesity or event result in a fear of the outdoors.  ILACSD hopes to reconnect students in under-served schools to the natural environment. This two-step program first introduces students to what they can find in nature and the importance of protecting these natural places, and then leads students on an educational hike through a nearby natural area. By helping students experience the nature in their own neighborhood, this program allows them to better understand and value the nature surrounding them every day.

This program is a favorite of ILACSD staff, as shown through our education staff:

My favorite thing about NN is spending time outside, enjoying and appreciating San Diego’s canyons with San Diego’s kids.” Monica Rosquillas, ILACSD Environment Educator

I learn as much as the students we lead, they have a curiosity that is contagious!” Erika Bjorkquist, ILACSD Education Coordinator

If you are interested in learning more about our Nearby Nature Program, please contact Erika Bjorkquist at ebjorkquist@cleansd.org.

Students today, future environmentalists tomorrow!
Students today, future environmentalists tomorrow!