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.

4 Ways to Eliminate Textile Waste

According to the County of San Diego, Americans generated 32 billion pounds of textile discards in 2015. Textiles make up around 6% of all municipal solid waste generated in the U.S. Tossing textiles in the trash unnecessarily fills our local landfills and wastes the resources that went into making them including vast amounts of water, energy, land and other resources.

What is a textile? Textiles can be items of clothing, homegoods, or fabrics that are made from woven material or fibers.

1. REDUCE – Become a minimalist

  • Reduce your consumption of textiles, new clothes, and accessories by reducing what you purchase! The less we purchase the less we have to manage as waste at the end of that product’s useful life. Read more about the benefits of becoming a minimalist here
  • Check out this practical guide to owning fewer clothes

2. REPAIR – Repair as much as possible

  • Did your favorite shirt loose a button? Consider learning how to sew a button back onto that top rather than buying a new piece of clothing to replace it
  • Not sure how to mend, sew, or repair textiles? Visit one of I Love a Clean San Diego’s upcoming FIX-IT! Repair & Reuse Workshops

3. REUSE – Upcycle, Thrift, or Swap

4. RECYCLE – Donating can lead to recycling

  • Turn all your hangers in your closet backwards. When you wear something, turn the hanger the correct way. After a year, if anything is still hanging backwards, donate it. Donate to a local organization and support a cause; search “Textiles/Clothing” on for locations
  • If your item of clothing is unusable, consider sending them to a textile-recycling program
  • Check out this donation bin field guide to learn the difference between a donation bin versus a for-profit bin
  • Some retailers will recycle for you H&M, Patagonia, Nike, Madewell, The North Face, Levi’s + more!

Visit to learn more about reduce, reuse, recycling centers, events, and resources in your area.

Now introducing a fourth “R”… Repair!

By now, you are likely familiar with the 3 R’s of waste reduction: Reduce, Reuse, And Recycle. But do you know about the fourth R in waste reduction? REPAIR! Choose to repair slightly broken or damaged items and decrease the amount of trash that ends up in our landfills!

Repairing is the process of fixing an item that you own, like a ripped shirt or a broken fridge, and giving it a second life. With easy access to Do It Yourself (DIY) shows and websites like Pinterest and YouTube, many people are choosing to learn how to mend their clothes and fix their household items instead of purchasing new items. In-person FIX-IT Workshops and Repair Cafes are also growing in popularity worldwide and creating community spaces where folks can share their repair skills on clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, toys, and more.

When you learn to repair the items that you already own, you can find new ways to personalize your belongings and help conserve valuable resources

Currently, 1 in every 2 people are throwing their unwanted clothes into the trash, generating more than 16 million tons of textile waste per year in the US only. The EPA estimated that 2.2 million tons of waste also comes from our small appliances, with only 5.6% getting recycled. Let’s not add on to trash in the landfills – repair your items instead.

It is easy to see why more people are choosing to repair their items once you know the environmental benefits of it. Here are just a few more of the benefits when you choose to repair:

  • Saves money – For some items, it is less expensive to fix them than to replace them. If a fix isn’t too difficult, you can likely find a how-to online and fix the item yourself, leaving you to only pay for materials. When deciding to either repair or replace an item, most experts say to use the 50-percent rule: if the repair cost is estimated to be 50 percent or less than the amount you paid for the item, it is usually better to repair it.
  • Saves energy – Repairing an item, rather than replacing it, saves energy (and resources) that would be required to make something new. Even if an item can be recycled, such as a refrigerator or computer, energy is still saved by choosing to repair.
  • You learn new skills – Learning a new skill can be extremely rewarding and can help build confidence. Many people who mend and sow their clothes, for example, describe the activity as a stress-releaser that helps them build patience.
  • Keeps items out of landfills– Choosing to repair slightly broken or damaged items, instead of replacing them, keeps items that still have a useable life out of landfills. Often times, just a quick fix can extend the life of household items.

So now you know! Repair helps with waste reduction and can benefit you, your wallet, and the planet! Learn a new skill and help extend the life of the items you already own.

Looking to repair something immediately? Visit and search for repair shops near you that service anything from a refrigerator to a surfboard

Interested in in learning skills to help you repair items on your own? Check our events page  for FIX-IT Workshops coming up!


How to Host a Clothing Swap Party

How to Host a Swap Party

What if there is a way to obtain new items while still being environmentally friendly? What if I told you that you can now go shopping for free? Welcome to SWAP Parties.

What’s a swap party?

  • Swap parties have been growing in popularity and offer an alternative in the way we acquire items for ourselves and our household.
  • Swaps are meet ups where people can bring in second-hand items that they own and exchange them with other items that other people bring at no cost.
  • Beyond being economical, eco-friendly, and an excuse to clean out your closet, a swap party with friends is far more fun than a yard sale with strangers.
  • By participating in a swap, you are helping to conserve natural resources, reduce the environmental footprint of producing new goods, and building community.

How to start

  • Set a theme – A swap party can be for clothing, toys, housewares, pet supplies, books, DVDs – anything you can think of! Decide on the type items that will be collected and exchanged.
  • Pick a space – Find a location that will give enough space for people to sort through items. Friendly Tip, adding clothing racks and full body mirrors will help you stay organized.
  • Gather friends and their excess stuff – For this sustainable get-together, people need to participate and show up with items that can be exchanged! Encourage guests to bring new friends to ensure there are plenty of quality things to trade.
  • Send out e-invitations! There are plenty of services for electronic invitations that are an upgrade from sending a text. Check out Paperless Post, Green Envelope, and eVite.
  • Host your swap at the end of the season when people are cleaning out their closets and looking for new pieces to freshen up their wardrobes.

Tricks of the Trade

  • Be clear about what’s swap-worthy. Ask friends to bring clean goods in gently used condition. Set standards of what will and will not be accepted. Be clear that items with stains, holes, rips or odors should be avoided.
  • Organize the Set Up of the Swap. To help people find what they want, sort items into areas based on type of items, color, and style.
  • After the party, take the leftover goods to your local donation center. Goodwill, schools, theatre groups, and pet adoption centers would love your excess items. Visit to find donation drop-off centers near you to take all the leftovers.

The most important part of SWAP Parties is, not only to have fun, but also to give a second round of life to pieces of items that would have otherwise ended in the landfill.

Want to attend a swap? Go to our events page to learn more about our upcoming Swap Parties!



Fallbrook Swap Party

I Love a Clean San Diego is excited to announce the Fallbrook SWAP Party happening on June 4, 2022 from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Vince Ross Village Square in Fallbrook!

Clean out your closet recently? SWAP Parties are an opportunity to replace your gently used clothing for things you actually need. By participating in the swap, you are helping to conserve natural resources, reduce the environmental footprint of producing new goods, and building community.

RSVP to our event and bring in any gently used clothing items, like t-shirts, jeans, jackets, and trade them for other goods at no cost. Items with significant holes, stains or odors will not be accepted.

We will accept:
✅ Clean, new or used, second-hand items

We will not accept items with
❎ stains, smells, broken pieces

We hope to see you there!

Thank you to the County of San Diego for partnering on this event.

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.

The Story of Plastic: Screening and Moderated Discussion

Story of Plastic

The Story of Plastic: Screening and Moderated Discussion

The United Nations Association San Diego Chapter and I Love a Clean San Diego are hosting a virtual screening and moderated discussion of The Story of Plastic on July 3rd, a documentary about the real causes of the plastic pollution crisis and the heroes who are rising up to stop big plastic.

Stories and film have a unique ability to bridge divides and bring us together as part of something bigger than ourselves – to connect us and create empathy during perilous times. The Story of Plastic takes a sweeping look at the man-made crisis of plastic pollution and the worldwide effect it has on the health of our planet and the people who inhabit it.

To that end, we hope The Story of Stuff’s new film The Story of Plastic serves as a tool to foster connection, spark dialogue, and create action to reduce single use plastic in San Diego.

Click Here to watch the trailer!

Join us to put a stop to plastic pollution on July 3rd at 10:00 AM PDT

Waste Hierarchy: What are the 4 Rs?

4R's of Waste Hierarchy

Waste Hierarchy: What are the 4 Rs?

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose/Upcycle, Recycle –

These 4 R’s are extremely important when it comes to sustainable living and help manifest environmentally responsible consumer behavior. They all aim to reduce the amount of waste we create, which will not only save money but conserve natural resources and energy as well.


Reduce comes first in the waste hierarchy and is the most effective way to prevent waste from being generated in the first place. From production to transportation, every single product that we own uses up large amounts of raw materials and energy, which poses as a detriment to the environment through resource depletion and pollution creation.

Tips on Reducing

  • Only buying what you need
  • Buy in bulk, click here to learn the basics of bulk buying
  • Buy used items from thrift stores or consignment shops
  • Borrow, rent or share items that are used infrequently like Halloween costumes, party decorations, pool toys
  • Printing double sided
  • Avoid buying non-recyclable products


Reuse is a great way to give an item an elongated life span by using it more than once. This means that none of the components of the product are wasted and can be used again for the same purpose.

Tips on Reusing

  • Using a reusable grocery bag instead of a getting a new plastic bag at the store
  • Using reusable utensils and water bottles
  • Reusing plastic or glass jars as storage containers (e.g. glass honey jars to store flour or sugar)
  • Repair items like clothes, shoes, tires, electronics or appliances instead of throwing and replacing them
  • Donate unwanted items to charity organizations like Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity and help those in need


Repurposing and upcycling are often used interchangeably but they are actually slightly different. Repurposing is using one product to serve a different purpose and creating a new use for an old product. Examples include making plant pots out of egg cartons or making tea lights out of bottle caps.

Tips on Repurposing

  • Look for inspo on creative ways to repurpose items: blogs
  • Repurposing can be a fun arts-and-craft activity to do with children
  • Works really well during holidays like Halloween and Christmas, where you can make decorations and costumes from old and used items at home


Upcycling on the other hand is enhancing or upgrading a product to better serve the same purpose through the addition of paint, ad-ons, decorations etc. An example is painting over your old table to transform it into a new pretty one.

Tips on Upcycling

  • Look for inspo on creative ways to repurpose items: blogs, YouTube
  • Utilize items at home that might be outdated such as old clothes to use as rags and towels for your project


Recycle comes last in the waste hierarchy and should also be the last option you choose if you exhaust all the other choices from reduce, reuse and repurpose/upcycle. This is because it is still creating materials and using up energy during the recycling process. Recycling aims to close the loop on resource consumption and preserve them for continued use by turning them into new products. For example, milk jugs and other plastic containers can be made into new bottles and containers, or even furniture and playground equipment. Paper can be recycled into toilet paper and tissues, and thin cardboard boxes and cartons.

Tips on Recycling

  • Only put items accepted by your waste hauler in your blue recycling bin
  • Make sure your recyclables are generally clean and dry
  • Putting contaminated items into the blue bin can contaminate the entire recycling load and deem it unusable
  • Never bag recyclables in plastic bag
  • Mixed material items such as chip bags cannot be recycled because there is no process to separate the items
  • Keep electronics and hazardous waste items out of your blue bin
  • Visit to find out where you can recycle other items like electronics and batteries

A Practical Path to Sustainable Parenting

Making trash is an inevitable part of raising kids, right? It doesn’t have to be! Register today for I Love A Clean San Diego’s upcoming free webinar, A Practical Path to Sustainable Parenting, on Tuesday, March 16th, from 8-9 p.m. From infants to teens, we’ll share how to integrate low-waste habits into daily routines in achievable ways, including toys, snacks, birthday parties, and school supplies, and how to effectively teach your children about environmental issues. Please register to receive the Zoom link. Thank you to the City of San Diego for sponsoring this event.