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, www.RepairSD.org.   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 jimg@knifesavers.com 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 www.RepairSD.org.

Kids Ask the Darndest Environmental Questions: Why not burn it?

Today’s blog is part one in a series “Kids Ask the Darndest Environmental Questions!”  from our environmental educator extraordinaire, Erika Bjorkquist.Erika-team

During ILACSD’s “Put Waste in its Place” presentation, students learn about waste in San Diego. They are shocked to discover that Southern California leads the country in volume of trash disposed, and are excited to become part of the solution. Many students share ideas of reducing, recycling, and reusing, as solutions, to our trash problem, however, many don’t understand why people should practice these Rs. We challenge students to find ways to deal with our trash problem. One suggestion I frequently receive is, “Why don’t we just burn it?”

San Diegans dispose of 5lbs of waste per person per day!
San Diegans dispose of 5lbs of waste per person per day!

So why don’t we burn it? In the past few years, the debate of incineration v. burial has reached a high, sparked by the success of cities like Oslo, which actually imports trash to convert into fuel for things like heating. In San Diego, and most of the west, one of the main reasons why we don’t burn is economics – it is cheaper to bury than burn. This also why we are trailing other California cities in waste diversion programs like curbside compost; the cost of burying is much lower than building new infrastructure. There are, however, arguments against the economic viability, pointing to transportation costs of waste haulers. In addition, incineration provides less energy than what can be saved through recycling. Incineration plants also have a negative reputation when it comes to air quality. While regulations are in place to prevent pollution, people still do not want it in their backyard.

Waste incinerator
Waste incinerator

All in all, while there are plenty of ideas on how to dispose of our waste, the key is prevention. It is important to minimize the amount of trash individuals produce. By rethinking purchases, like choosing products with limited packaging, refusing unnecessary items like plastic bags for a candy bar, and being ready by having carrying reusable mugs and water bottles, you will make an impact in your neighborhood, city, and state.

waste incineration2
Waste incineration emissions

Learn more about how to reduce waste through recycling, reuse, and repair at www.WasteFreeSD.org!