ILACSD Debuts Zero Waste Workshops

Emily Nelson, Education Manager

Thanks to the generous support of the City of Encinitas and Healthy Day Partners, I Love A Clean San Diego is currently providing free adult workshops as part of our Sustainable Living Series. After a successful kick-off in November, we’re looking forward to our upcoming workshops in January and February. Read on to learn more!

As a San Diego native, I’ve always taken pride in how our community members rally together during a time of need. Most recently, San Diegans responded impressively to our drought crisis. Between June and August of this year, San Diego county residents decreased their water usage by 27%. We’ve all worked together to take shorter showers and limit our irrigation frequency, but is there more we could be doing?

10.7.15 - SLS (33)At our first Sustainable Living Series workshop – What to Know about H2O – I Love A Clean San Diego staff set out to tackle that very question. After reviewing the history of water in San Diego, participants rolled up their sleeves and dug into our repurposed planter activity. Using items salvaged from Goodwill as pots, we planted succulents, saving water and saving items from the landfill in one fell swoop.

Following a tour of the Ocean Knoll Farm, the site of the Sustainable Living Series workshops, our educators discussed the benefits of selecting native plants as part of your outdoor landscape design. We demonstrated water-wise irrigation options, exploring the benefits of backyard rain barrels and detailing the process of installing a Laundry to Landscape greywater system. Our youngest participants got to “bling their bucket” with reminders of how to conserve water in their home.

Thanks to generous donations from Walter Andersen Nursery in Point Loma and Home Depot in Encinitas, we raffled off a rain barrel and 10 native plants, among other items. Everyone walked away with something to set them on the path to living more a more sustainable life.


Join us for our upcoming zero waste workshops: Zero Waste Home on Saturday January 9th and Zero Waste Lifestyle on February 20th, offered at no cost to you!  

Click the image to register!

Visit for more information and to register.


Eco Holiday Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste

Today’s blog is brought to you by Emily, one of our environmental educators. Emily loves holiday treats (especially her grandma’s jell-o salad), but hates seeing good food go to waste. Keep reading to see how you can reduce the amount of food you throw away.

‘Tis the season for friends, fun, and food.  With all the festivities this time of year, it’s easy for us to be up to our eyeballs in pumpkin spice lattes, turkey sandwich leftovers, and sugar cookies from the grandkids. And with food comes food waste. This holiday season, give a gift to the environment by putting your trash can on a diet.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans throw away up to 40% of the food supply each year, valued at almost $390 per consumer in 2008. That means every year we’re throwing away enough food to constitute at least a month’s worth of groceries. Since food has become so convenient and readily available, many people wonder what the big deal is. What’s wrong with this picture? We are wasting resources – land and water to grow the food, money to purchase it, and time and energy to prepare the finished product. After unwanted food enters our trash cans, it makes a long, diesel-powered journey to the landfill (soon to be the landfull), where it rots, releasing harmful greenhouse gases. About 14.5% of our municipal solid waste is food waste. Fortunately, the solution is within our reach.

Now, before you go all Dr. Brown on us, let’s look at some simple steps you can take today.

  1. Serving size – As this World War II poster reminds us, taking more than we can eat is one of the most common reasons we dispose of food. It’s better to return for seconds than to throw usable food away. When eating out, asking for a take-out container (or bring your own) when your food arrives to help remind you to take home the leftovers. As you teach your children, friends, and family to be mindful of the helping they put on their plate, you are instilling healthy habits for them and the earth.Don't Waste Good Food


  1. Make a list and check it twice – Despite our best intentions, sometimes our food spoils. Planning ahead before you even get to the grocery store can help prevent that. For example, if you know you want to make a recipe using chicken stock, plan to cook another dish using chicken stock later that same week.
  1. Embrace the ugly – Picking through the produce piles is like a quest for the perfect fruit or vegetable. However, if a potato has an odd knob, or an onion has a conjoined twin, chances are it will taste exactly the same as its normative cousins, especially if you’re chopping it up. Now, we’re not condoning purchasing bruised or unfit for consumption. Rather, you’ll be giving a home to an otherwise discarded piece of perfectly good produce. Besides, it makes for a wonderful game of Rorschach Vegetables.

Ugly Fruit

  1. Love those leftovers – For some, leftovers are the gift that keeps on giving. Others, however, tire of the same meal for weeks. For inspiration on how to jazz up your leftovers, turn to the wonderful world of Pinterest. Maxed out on turkey sandwiches? Freeze your cooked turkey for up to 6 months and keep that tryptophan train runnin’ well into the spring.

Waste Free SD Tip: Choose reusable containers to store your leftovers instead of non-recyclable plastic resealable bags.

  1. Compost – You don’t have to have a lot of space to compost! Contrary to popular belief, apartment dwellers as well as homes with yard space can significantly reduce the amount of food waste that makes it to our landfills and in return, you’ll have a nutrient rich compost for your garden by spring! Click here to learn more and stay tuned for our blog series on composting, coming soon to a computer screen near you.


Turn your winter leftovers into nutrient-rich soil by Spring!

As with other eco-friendly actions, reducing food waste is all about our choices. Start today with a small commitment to take a step to decrease your food waste. It may take time to build these habits, but when we’re able to stretch the life of our landfill to accommodate our children and grandchildren, it will certainly be worth it.


To learn more, check out this video:

Making reusables fun! ILACSD teams up with Kill The Cup

KTC - Drew #1It is no secret that I Love a Clean San Diego loves reusables. We provide everyday reusable tips, sell stainless steel straws at our events, and encourage volunteers to B.Y.O reusable supplies to clean ups, all in an effort to reduce waste. Now, we’re proud to partner with other organizations that are doing great environmental work! Today’s blog comes from Drew Beal, Chief Environmental Optimist at Kill the Cup — a waste reduction program that encourages consumers to bring a reusable cup when they get coffee. Kill the Cup is now turning into a nationwide environmental initiative on college campuses, and Drew is here to share some tips on making it FUN to go green!


Did you know that 50 billion paper cups get discarded in America each year? This creates a lot of landfill waste… but it’s not just the end of the lifecycle that matters. The manufacturing process of those 50 billion cups results in the same amount of co2 emissions as adding 1.1 million passenger vehicles to the roads. Clearly, we have a cup problem!

KTC - Selfie #2Paper cups represent just one piece of a much larger problem: consumer waste. But what incentives are in place to encourage us to change our behavior? Many coffee shops offer a 10-cent discount when you bring your own cup, but that’s not going to move the needle. And most people get tired of environmental messaging. If we’re serious about changing behavior, we have to make it FUN!


So that’s what we did when we created Kill the Cup — a social-media inspired game that offers prizes and rewards to coffee drinkers who share photos posing with their reusable coffee cups. We’ve implemented our waste reduction campaigns on college campuses across the country, including a few right here in our backyard: UC San Diego, University of San Diego, and Cal State San Marcos.

After learning a few things about encouraging environmentally responsible consumer behavior on college campuses, we’re confident that many of these tactics can work just as well in office or community settings. Whether you’re seeking to increase reusable behavior at your home, school, office, or community, here are 5 tips to make it FUN to go green!


KTC - #31) One step at a time. Establish a specific goal for your reusable campaign. It can be tempting to launch an all-encompassing “go green” initiative that targets cups, bags, bottles, and everything under the sun. But you run the risk of alienating people by asking them to do too much. Target a single reusable action, and keep the length of the campaign at about four weeks. (They say it takes about 30 days to form a new habit.)


2) But first… let me take a Selfie. Recent studies report that 93 million selfies are taken each and every day. How about doing something productive with that self-portrait? Sharing a photo of environmentally friendly behavior can make a difference. When you see pictures of a colleague or classmate engaged in eco-friendly behavior, you become more likely to also engage in a green activity.


3) Keep score. Photos are fun, and so are leaderboards. Whether people are getting rewarded for taking alternative transportation, or for bringing reusable cutlery to the office — they love getting points! Create a scoring system for your campaign, and make sure it’s easy to understand. In our recent University Challenge, for example, students received 5 points per photo, with a maximum of 1 photo per day.


KTC - Sales Data across 5 UCSD campus coffee shops.
Reusable rate & sales data across 5 UCSD campus coffee shops.

4) Create teams. What do people love more than getting points? Winning! Many reusable activities are viewed as actions taken by individuals. By forming teams, you can help establish social norms around the desired behavior change. Instead of “Hey Jim, bring a reusable bag to help the environment,” it becomes, “Hey Jim, bring a reusable bag to help us win the Office Challenge!” Completely different perspective.


5) Measure, measure, measure. Photo-sharing campaigns are a lot of fun, but let’s not lose our focus on the overall objective: waste reduction. Identify metrics that will capture the desired behavior change. At Kill the Cup, we partner with coffee shops to measure the reusable rate — the percentage of drinks served in reusable cups. When we see an increase in the reusable rate, we know the campaign is working. And when that happens, everybody wins.

Kill The CupAnd that’s it. I hope you found these tips to be helpful, and I wish you the best of luck with your reusable initiatives. It’s an uphill battle we’re fighting to encourage environmentally responsible behavior, and it’s people like you that will help us get there. Visit the ILACSD website for more information about our pollution prevention programs and feel free to contact KTC with any questions, comments, or feedback. We look forward to hearing from you!

Ditch the Disposable Lifestyle Part II: California Bag Ban

Monica headshotThis week’s blog comes from Monica, an ILACSD Environmental Educator! You may remember her last blog, Ditch the Disposable Lifestyle: Choose Reusables, where she provided us with many useful tips to help reduce our waste, including using reusable bags. Now that SB 270, also known as California Bag Ban, has been signed into law, Monica is here to share helpful tips to make reusable bags a part of your daily routine! 


Some Background: In late September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 270, making California the first and only state in the country with a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags. While some applaud the effort, others are frustrated with it. However, unless an appeal is successful, come July 1, 2015, single-use plastic bags will no longer be available at your favorite grocery store or pharmacy.

Grocery stores will continue to carry paper bags for 10 cent each and plastic produce bags will still be available, which many people reuse to dispose of pet waste. Regardless of your position on this issue, our staff can assure you that the transition to a plastic bag free state will be easy, with a little practice.

Here are my top 6 tips to help get you in the habit well before July 2015 when the ban goes into effect. 

Bag Ban tips from Monica!
This bag is machine washable and made in the USA!

1. Hold off on buying a lot of new reusable bags.

  • Look around your house, in the closets, under the kitchen sink, under the bed. It’s likely that you already have reusable bags, or the materials to make your own!

2. I don’t have any bags. Which ones should I buy? Quality is important. You want to buy a bag that will last you a long time. Think years!

  • Materials: Cotton cloth bags are my favorite. They can hold a lot of weight and they’re machine washable. I’ve had one of my cloth bags since 2010 and still use it all the time!
  • Close the loop! Look for bags made from recycled materials.
  • Carbon footprint. American made bags would be great! You’ll be supporting American business and know that those bags traveled less to get to you and thus consumed less resources.
Director of Education, Sam, returning to the ILACSD office with her reusable bag!
Here’s Sam, our Director of Education, coming back from the store with one of our reusable bags.

3. Getting into the habit can be hard. Give it a few weeks, before you know it, you’ll never forget your bag. Here’s what helped me get into the habit:

  • Keep your bags somewhere handy & always in the same spot to save time.
  • Keep a couple in your car. Lots of us make impromptu stops to the store.
  • At ILACSD, we keep our shared reusable bags in the same spot. When one of us takes a trip to the nearby Vons or Trader Joe’s, we know exactly where to grab one.


4. Oh no, it happened, again! You’re about to pay for your groceries and realize you forgot your bags!

  • If I’m only buying a few things I’ll refuse the bag. “No thank you, I don’t need a bag”. I say that all the time, I don’t mind carrying a couple of items in my arms, or maybe I can fit them into my purse.
  • Take a tip from Costco, ask for a box! If they don’t have boxes, I’ll put bulky items in my cart, without a bag, transfer them to my trunk, and the whole shopping experience is bag-less. I lived in Suwon, South Korea for a year, where they banned plastic bags, and this is what a lot of people did. Try to maximize and get only the bags you need for smaller items.
Help prevent plastic pollution - choose reusables!
On a 30 minute walk with my dog at Discovery Park in Chula Vista (an adoptable canyon), I picked up 6 plastic bags!

5. Keep in mind WHY you’re doing this. For some of us, the motivation may be to save the 10 cents per paper bag, but every time we choose reusables, that means there are fewer plastic bags to pollute our watersheds and occupy the limited space in our landfills.

I know the few extra efforts I put into using my reusable bags and refusing disposable bags are worth it because I’m not contributing to pollution. When it rains, littered plastic bags flow into storm drains and eventually to the ocean. Many marine animals, like sea turtles, get entangled in the bags or eat them because they mistake them for food. Keeping this is mind motivates me to continue refusing single-use bags!

6. Have fun with it! Reusable bags give you a chance to show your personality, and can be just another accessory that allows you to make a statement. Just try not to make this statement:

Although for some it will take time to adopt the reusable bag habit, our small efforts are bound to make a significant, positive impact on our environment.

Bag Ban tips from Monica!
Choosing reusable bags over single-use plastic bags is an easy choice!