34% – we can do better!

SONY DSCToday’s blog comes for our Hotline Assistant, Ani, who is always on the look out for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle.  Many of us know the basics of recycling: paper, rigid plastic containers, aluminum, however, there is one part of the home that is often neglected, the bathroom. Read on to learn how you can keep perfectly good recyclables out of the landfill, and instead give that shampoo bottle or toilet paper roll a new life!


bathroom-recyc_5Let me start by asking, do you recycle your empty shampoo bottles? What about the toilet paper roll? Surprisingly enough, not many people do. A survey conducted by the Ad Council, a non-profit organization, revealed that only 34% of Americans recycle bathroom items. More surprising, 22% of Americans would not toss bathroom items in the recycling bins if the bin is located outside the bathroom.

What kind of changes can we make to form a habit of recycling in our bathroom? Here are some suggestions:

1. Place a recycling bin in the bathroom to serve as a constant reminder to recycle

2. Inform others in the household of the items that can and cannot be recycled (see graphic).

3. Assign a recycling expert in your household. I found it useful to assign my youngest niece the role of “Recycling Expert”. She is responsible for making sure everyone in the household recycles properly.

4. Make a bathroom recycling sign. Unilever, a consumer goods company, cleverly developed “Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine” in partnership with Keep America Beautiful and the Ad Council.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ynVVgeaFdg]

How do we recycle these items? Give your recyclable bathroom items a new life by lightly rinsing out the left over contents from empty bottles and removing the lid or plastic pumps (not yet recyclable).  Remember to recycle empty cardboard packaging like toothpaste boxes and tissue boxes. And also make sure that aerosol cans, like air fresheners and shaving cream, are completely empty before recycling (yes, you can place empty aerosol cans in the blue bin, yay!)

“Rinse. Recycle. Reimagine.” It’s that easy!

So what happens after it is tossed into the blue bin? Bottles composed of PET plastic are recycled and used in carpet fiber, fiberfill for winter jackets and sleeping bags, car upholstery, and boat sails. Other recyclable materials composed of HDPE plastic are turned into flexible construction pipes, and patio furniture. To read more about what other recyclable items become, visit IWantToBeRecycled.org

Another solution to our abundant aBack-to-MAC-Program_2ccumulation of bathroom recyclables is shop for items with minimal packaging or shop in bulk. Products like LUSH Cosmetics strive to minimally package goods in store and opting out on packaging is always an option. You can also earn incentives for recycling your empty make-up containers in-store. Take MAC Cosmetics for example. If you take six empty MAC Cosmetic product containers back to the store, they will give you a free lipstick through their Back to M.A.C. program.

If you want to purchase items in bulk, check out Blue Dot Refill in Ocean Beach. Tunnamed-2hey offer customers the opportunity to bring their own empty bottles and jars to fill up on shampoos, body care products, and cleaning agents. They also accept empty bottles in-store for other customers to fill up and use, so start saving those bottles so you can use them again!

Lastly, another great way to limit the need to shop for bathroom items is by making them yourself right at home! Check out these great recipes on our Pinterest page and be on the lookout for a future blog all about simple DIY beauty products tested and approved by ILACSD staff!

 To get answers to other recycling questions, visit our database www.WasteFreeSD.org!




Add “Refill” to your Reduce, Reuse, Recycle mantra!

Blue Dot Logo Grey BckrndToday’s blog comes from our friends at Blue Dot Refill, Deidre and Beth! Blue Dot Refill is a local, environmentally-conscious refill business that strives to prevent plastic pollution – certainly a mission we can’t help but support! Read on to learn more about the impacts of plastic and how this “refillutionary” idea came to be. 


“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”…we hear and see it repeatedly.  We all know about, and are presumably committed to, recycling.  You just put it in a recycle bin and it goes away, right? Sounds pretty simple, but actually it’s more complicated that just tossing it the blue bin and walking away.

Over 4,000 bottles & containers saved from our landfills, waterways & oceans!
Over 4,000 bottles & containers saved from our landfills, waterways & oceans!

According to the EPA, plastics make up more than 12 percent of all municipal solid waste streams.  And even though much of it’s being put in a recycling bin, only about 8 percent of it actually gets recycled. Why only 8 percent? Unlike the glass and metal industries which can keep recycling glass and metals numerous times, plastics are typically only recycled once, turned into only one other product which generally can not be recycled again and must then be landfilled at the end of its life.  That’s the reason recycling plastic is no longer enough if we want to clean up our planet, its rivers, its oceans. There simply is no “away” with plastic, even after it get recycled that one time, it then exists somewhere out there for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years polluting our ecosystem as it breaks into smaller and smaller pieces.

Blue Dot Refill is serious about reuse.  You can read more and get reuse ideas on our blog!
“Reuse Rock Star” Brian Blum from Permyoble Oasis carting off our empty containers, along with his repurposing wizardry. You can read more about how our product containers are reused on our blog!

So now it makes sense to add “Refill” to the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle creed.  Many of us have gotten into the habit of (or trying to be better at!) bringing our own reusable bags to the store when we shop.  How cool would it be if we could also bring out own bottles and reuse them, too?  Lots of us already have a bathroom hand soap pump that we refill, but what if you could refill your shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, body wash & lotion containers as well?  And that’s just the plastic bottles in your bathroom.  If you could refill all the plastic bottles in use in your laundry room, kitchen, and cleaning closet (laundry detergent, dish soap, various household cleaning products)…that’d be a lot of plastic bottles you could save from the waste stream!  If you haven’t heard, San Diego has it’s own Eco-Soap refill shop where you can refill all these items and more:  Blue Dot Refill in Ocean Beach.

If saving the plastic from polluting the Planet isn’t incentive enough, how about saving a little money?  Every time you buy a product packaged in plastic, you’re also paying for the bottle. You save money by refilling your own container. How much depends on the specific product, but it is generally from 10-40% over retail.

Rain Barrels
A popular use for Blue Dot Refill’s 55 gallon drums are rain barrels. Yes, free rain barrels!

Blue Dot Refill may be San Diego’s first refill store, but it’s not the first of its kind. Refill stores have been popping up in Oregon, the Bay Area and Northern California since 2009. Blue Dot Refill’s founder, Deidre Prozinski, had an “Eureka” moment when she accidentally ran into such a store called S.O.A.P. in Placerville, CA.  S.O.A.P. stands for Save Our Ailing Planet. Inspired by the idea that if a small town in the Sierras could support a refill concept store, that San Diegans surely could, Deidre, embarked on the journey to establish Blue Dot Refill as Southern California’s first soap refill store.   The “Blue Dot” in Blue Dot Refill was further inspired by a NASA photo taken of the Earth by the Voyager 1 spacecraft in 1990.   A few years later astronomer Carl Sagan shares his interpretation of the meaning of the photograph in his book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space:

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”

And that’s Blue Dot Refill. Like any small business, it’s a lot of work but also a labor of love.  We’ve received a lot of community support and even a couple of awards!  San Diego Magazine honored us with a 2014 “Best Of” Award in the Shopping category as Best Planet-Friendly Outpost.”  Blue Dot Refill was one of only thirteen shops selected.   We were also honored with a “Customer Service Business of the Year Award” from the Ocean Beach Mainstreet Association.  And we’re just getting started, with over 4,206 bottles saved and counting!

Blue Dot Refill carries a variety of products including laundry detergent, household cleaners, shampoo, face wash – you name it! Check out their extensive list of products and start refilling today!