Make the Season Bright with These Eco Holiday Tips!

Today’s festive holiday guide comes from one of ILACSD’s Program Assistants, Emily! She has done a lot of research to bring you the best of eco-friendly holiday ideas, including everything from party planning to gift wrap! But first, let’s start off with a eco-inspired holiday poem! 

T’was three weeks before Christmas and all through the scene

People were wond’ring how to make Christmas green.


From Red Solo cups used up at a party

To the tin foil covering fudge for Uncle Marty,


Many holiday items end up in the trash,

Increasing the heap in our landfill stash.


The plastics! The glass! The tinsel! The paper!

Oh, the waste piles higher than a city skyscraper!


As they pondered wrapped gifts topped in bright, shiny bows,

They knew there must be a way to reduce how much is disposed.


When what to their wondering eyes did appear

But a helpful blog post written by eight tiny reindeer.


As you head out to shop, to craft and create,

Rejoice in the choices now there on your plate.


Keep the land clean from Del Mar to Borrego

Because no gift is greater than a clean San Diego!

Tips for an Eco-Friendly Holiday Season

  • Fast Facts
    • Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, the average San Diegan throws away between 3 and 10 extra bags of trash.
    • Recycle these items: Aluminum pie tins, empty aerosol cans (like whipped cream), wine and cider bottles, cardboard boxes, and paper packaging can all be recycled. For any question on what can be placed in the blue curbside bin, click here.
  • Gift Wrapping
    • Recycle all non-metallic wrapping paper and any paper-based ribbon.
    • Go paperless! Wrap gifts in items like towels, t-shirts, or pillowcases.
    • Use your child’s grade school artwork to create unique wrapping paper.
    • Create gift tags from wrapping paper scraps or last year’s greeting cards.

    Eco Gift Wrap
    Check out these gifts wrapped in brown grocery bags, newsprint, and t-shirt scraps, with tags from cereal boxes!
  • Eco-friendly Gifts
    • Give a succulent in a pot made from reused items, such as decorated yogurt cups.
    • Choose reusables! Encourage friends and families to ditch disposables and choose reusables such as shopping bags, straws, mugs – the ideas are limitless!
    • Buy nuts, berries, and chocolates in bulk and present them in reused glass jars. Arrange them in a basket, giving two gifts in one. Check out these examples on Pinterest for inspiration!
    • Non-material gifts are essentially free of packaging and create stronger memories than giving the latest gadget. Consider zoo memberships, hang gliding lessons, a painting class, or gift cards to local camp sites.
      • One of my favorite gifts I’ve received falls into this category. My friend jokingly lamented that he couldn’t buy me a beluga whale (my favorite animal), so he made a donation in my name to the National Wildlife Foundation toward the cause of the beluga whale. I was impressed with how thoughtful and creative he had been.
Pine Cone Centerpieces
By not adding paint or glitter, these pinecone centerpieces can be composted once the holiday season has passed.
  • Decorations
    • Decorating with natural items, such as cranberry and popcorn strings, leaves you the option of composting them post-holidays. Be sure to check out our Pinterest for other decor ideas!
  • Party Planning
    • If you know ahead of time who’s coming, print out old photos of each guest and tape them to glasses as “identifiers.” This encourages people to use the same cup throughout the event, and it’s fun to play, “Guess Whose Bad School Portrait That Is.”





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ILACSD Staff Share Their Favorite DIY Projects

Today’s blog comes from our Hotline Manager, Amanda! On our hotline, Amanda answers many questions about recycling, but what about the other two Rs, reduce and reuse? Here at ILACSD, we’re not only a community resource, we practice what we preach. Read on to check out some of our favorite staff DIY projects!


Do it yourself (DIY) seems more popular than ever thanks to Pinterest, Instagram and home improvement blogs. DIY can be a great way to not only save money, but help the planet, too! Here are some DIY projects that have been done by our staff members and their families. Be sure to follow us on Pinterest to keep with all the latest earth-friendly DIY trends!

Ann's tableDirector of Finance, Ann, had an old table from Ikea that needed a little extra attention. Almost everyone ends up with at least one piece of Ikea furniture in their lifetime, why not give it a facelift instead of trashing it? Ann decorated her table with some leftover tiles from a kitchen remodel as well as some tiles decorated by her daughter. Ann took a very common item and transformed it into something unique by adding her own personal flare!

Hummingbird feedersCraft beer is popular in San Diego, and often they have bottles that just seem too pretty to recycle. Hotline Manager, Amanda, has a creative brother who made hummingbird feeders from old beer bottles. Just wrap some wire around an old bottle, fill it with some hummingbird nectar and add a hummingbird feeder tube. Feeder tubes can be found online or at your local hardware store. Click here to recreate this project!

Morgan's jewlery hangerDirector of Development and Marketing, Morgan, keeps herself busy these days with projects around her newly purchased home! The cost of home décor & accessories can quickly add up but Morgan decided to save a little cash and still add that homey feel!  With an old drawer front, some spare knobs from around the house, and a screwdriver, Morgan easily attached the knobs to the drawer front and bingo! Now she has a pretty and handy place to hang her necklaces. You can find a similar project here on our Pinterest board!

Morgan's herb gardenHere’s another project Morgan did, she found a small children’s bathtub at a swap meet in LA and turned it into an herb garden in her back yard. Don’t worry you don’t have to go all the way to LA for a swap meet! We have them right here in San Diego. There is even a new San Diego Vintage Market on the last Saturday of each month at Mission Bay High School!


Director of Community Events, Natalie, has a very talented and creative Dad. Below is a table and chairs he crafted from wine barrels leftover from a local winery, and a slab of granite left from a kitchen remodel.

BeFunky_Natalie's chair.jpg

Director of Education, Samantha, recently hosted a bridal shower for a friend. Rather than going out to purchase new vases, she saved up jars from pickles, olives, etc. and added some glitter to create some beautiful and unique vases.

Add a little sparkle to your home!

You don’t have to be an artist to get a little creative at home and re-purpose items that could use a little T.L.C. Check out our Pinterest and for more great DIY and reuse ideas. We invite you to post your favorite DIY projects you’ve done to our Facebook page!

What’s Better Than Recycling? Reuse and Repair!

Today’s blog post comes from ILACSD’s Program Assistant – Educator, Bethany Edgar, who breaks down the Reuse & Repair area of San Diego’s Earth Fair 2014.  Bethany_cropped


Thanks to the efforts of the SD Reuse and Repair Network and their partners, this year’s Earth Fair in Balboa Park featured an area dedicated exclusively to the important topic of “Reduce, Reuse, Repair, and Repurpose.”  This area was the perfect opportunity for I Love A Clean San Diego to promote our new repair database,   People were excited to hear about this helpful new resource, commenting how difficult it can be to find information online about repairing things.  After trying out the database on a tablet at our booth, quite a few people said they were impressed with how user-friendly the database is and that they would definitely use it and help spread the word about this useful tool!

 For those of you who may have missed out on this unique and inspiring section of the fair, here are some highlights:

 SD Reuse and Repair Network

This network of local businesses, municipalities, non-profits, and interested citizens created a stage area offering workshops for fairgoers on a variety of topics including bike repair, San Diego’s zero waste plans, and furniture transformation.  In their booth they showcased a number of creatively repurposed furniture items that were rescued from a truck of leftovers from a Goodwill auction on its way to the landfill, including:

This old headboard was turned into a coffee table
This old headboard was turned into a coffee table
A dresser drawer turned into a herb garden box and a broken chair turned into a plant stand!
A dresser drawer turned into a herb garden box and a broken chair turned into a plant stand!


Bikes del Pueblo

“Learn, fix, build, ride”

Bikes del Pueblo is a dedicated collective that seeks to empower local communities through bicycle education by offering open workshops to assist people in building, maintaining, and repairing their bikes.  During the Earth Fair they taught several bicycle repair workshops and provided free bicycle repair manuals to fairgoers. You can find them every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm at the City Heights Farmer’s Market where they set up a mini-shop to walk people through the process of fixing their own bikes.


Boxed Green

“Cheap, gently used boxes near you”

Boxed Green works to reuse cardboard boxes by connecting San Diegans who need boxes with local retailers who have boxes to spare.  On Boxed Green’s user-friendly website, San Diegans can choose a nearby retailer, purchase boxes online for just $1 per box, then pick up the gently used boxes at their convenience directly from the retailer. This unique service saves trees and saves customers time and money when looking for moving boxes.  Plus, a portion of all sales is donated to eco-focused non-profits!


Knife Savers

“Lost your edge? We can get it back for you!”

Jim Green, owner and proprietor of Knife Savers, scours thrift stores and swap meets for high quality old knives that need repair and then sells the refurbished knives at reasonable prices, thereby keeping precious resources out of our landfills and providing a valuable service to the community. Contact Jim at or (619) 846-6526



“materials for art & learning”

Judith Toepel has created this innovative non-profit as a community building resource for clean, usable materials that may have been considered waste.  reInterpret collaborates with schools, teachers, artists, and businesses on the topic of sustainability, industry, arts and education.  They offer teacher workshops to inspire the use of recycled materials to aid in learning math, science, language, and creative arts as a means of meeting the Common Core Standards.


Of course, if you are ever looking for repurpose ideas, you can always check out our Pinterest page, or if you need a place to repair items, look no further than

Ewaste: Why You Should Care, and What To Do

Ewaste is a growing problem.  As we keep adding new electronics to our lives (and who doesn’t want to get a new cell phone every two years!), we are then swamped with an excess of the old ones.  Ewaste is defined as, basically, anything you can plug in.  This means cell phones, refrigerators, TVs, keyboards, your monogrammed waffle iron, you name it.  It also includes the “secondary” waste that comes from these products, like copper wire.  The EPA estimates that only about 28% of all ewaste gets recycled. So what happens to the other 72% of ewaste? Unfortunately, that amount winds up in local landfills where lead, mercury, and other toxins soak into the ground.  The hazards of ewaste are pretty severe and can cause serious health and pollution risks. Some ewaste is banned from landfills.  In California, law prohibits cathode ray tubes from televisions and computer monitors from entering the landfill.  Regardless, you never want to dump your ewaste in the landfill (this means keep it out of your trash and recycling bins).  Ok, so now that you know what ewaste is, what do you do with it?

What comprises ewaste
What comprises ewaste

Here are a few tips for safe ewaste disposal:

1. Repair it! Maybe your laptop’s CD drive broke when your cat jumped on it.  Instead of buying a whole new laptop, get the current one repaired! You may be asking where you can get such a thing done. Well, we built you a whole repair database, where you can search the item you need repaired and find a convenient location.

An option (maybe) for ewaste repurposing
An option (maybe) for ewaste repurposing
A cute art project made from an old keyboard

2. Re-purpose it! We can’t quite think of how to reuse that old laptop, but how about all the other ewaste you may have? Circuit board shoes not your idea of how to spend a Sunday? How about this cool way to reuse the keys in your keyboard- make a neat art project by spelling out the letters and putting them in a shadow box.  Also check out our Pinterest page, where we find ways to re-purpose all sorts of items.

3. Recycle it! The ewaste you dispose of likely isn’t 100% recyclable, but many of the components are. Regardless, if you can’t figure out what else to do with your ewaste, your best bet is to take it to a collection event.  Again, we have you covered- check out our events calendar for upcoming ewaste recycling events (usually there’s around one per weekend).

Have any questions about recycling? Contact us  at  1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784)

ILACSD’s Top 5 Scarily Awesome Halloween Crafts (made from items around the house)!

 Halloween is right around the corner, and we have some great crafts that reuse everyday items!  “Witch” will you choose?

1. Many of us have empty plastic milk jugs and an old strand of Christmas lights lying around somewhere.  Clean out the milk containers and draw a spooky ghost face on the plastic.  Poke a hole in the back of the jugs and thread the Christmas lights through them. Plug in and… BOO! You’ve got yourself some glowing luminaries that look great lining your path or on your porch Halloween night.


2. Planning a Halloween party or just want a fun treat for your kids to bring to school? Reuse a six-pack of soda bottles to make colorful candy jars.  Wash the bottles and fill with (small) candies of your choice. Decorate the soda box, and then craft some ghouly witchy paper tags to tie around each bottle.  You could also fill these with healthy snacks, like nuts or trail mix, or, for a really terrifying Halloween for the kids, peas or edamame!


3. Costume shopping for kids can be a real nightmare.  By the time you find the cat ears (fake only, please) at one store, the right shoes at another, and the makeup at a third, you’ve run around down for the past three weeks and are out $100.  Making your own costume with items around the house is a great solution, and it keeps outgrown costumes from ending up in the trash. So grab the nearest kid and a glue stick and get to work transforming that child into a cardboard crocodile or e-friendly Wall-E.


4. Frankenstein made a monster, and you can too (less liability with this version). Create your own Frankenstein’s monster out of an empty tin can.  Paint your can green, draw on some stiches and a mouth, pop on some googly eyes and hair made from cloth or paper.  Screw two bolts in to the monster’s neck, sing “Monster Mash”, and voila!  You’ve become a mad scientist.


5. Still have some plastic milk jugs left over?  This craft is a bit more elaborate, but look how great it turns out!  It will last year to year, and your neighbors will be impressed by your resourcefulness and then you’ll spend the next decade one-upping each other with recycled decorations.


Happy Halloween! (And don’t forget to use a reusable trick-or-treat bag!)

Repair…Don’t Replace! Tips for Items to Repair this Fall

After months of hard work, I Love A Clean San Diego is excited to present its brand-new REPAIR database, providing referrals to all the places in town that repair…well…almost everything! Check out our new site and let us know what you think! 

While we have been operating our recycling database, since 2007, we now have an exciting new addition to that resource,, which will allow you to search for locations to repair items that you may have originally thought simply trash. Repairing items you already have rather than buying new ones will keep valuable resources out of our landfills, and maybe even help save some of your hard earned money!

Fall is already upon us (where did summer go?!), and as you prepare for our own version of winter weather here in San Diego, we encourage you to consider your options for repairing those old or damaged items you’ve got around the house before you run out and buy brand new ones. Here are some items that you may want to think about repairing instead of replacing…

As we all know too well, October is fire season in San Diego County. Ready San Diego recommends having a battery powered radio as part of your family’s emergency supply kit. Get that old battery powered radio that’s been collecting dust in your closet fixed up; you’ll be helping the environment and helping your family by being prepared for any emergencies that may come your way.

Repair your radio, don't replace it!
Repair your radio, don’t replace it!

Cooler temperatures outside mean you’ll definitely need that wetsuit when heading out into the chilly Pacific Ocean; find a shop that can repair your old wetsuit using the new  If your wetsuit is truly beyond repair, don’t trash it! You can get a little creative and turn your old one into a can koozie or even a laptop bag.

Try a DIY idea to re-purpose something that is beyond repair!

As you fashionistas out there know, it’s about time to swap out those summer sandals for some winter-ready boots! Did you pull your favorite pair out of the closet only to find them looking a little worn? No need to shell out your hard-earned cash to buy new ones; has plenty of shoe repair location listings to help you get yours looking good as new in no time.

Ever heard of shabby chic?

Less sunlight in the evenings means more time spent at home. Have a guitar your old roommate left behind? Are your notes more sour than sweet? Use to find a shop near you to repair your guitar, and impress your friends with your resourcefulness AND your musical talent!

Sing the 4 R’s on your repaired guitar!

Go ahead and check it out for yourself today: visit the new  to locate a business that can repair anything from vacuums to furniture to game consoles. And feel good about doing your part to reduce waste!