Recycling Plastic Is Great, But Not as Great as Avoiding Plastic in the First Place

8-21-2018

The issue of plastic pollution has turned into what some would call an environmental crisis. In the last couple of years, we’ve learned that the plastic in the world’s oceans will weigh more than the ocean’s fish by 2050, and microscopic plastic particles have quickly been working their way into our water supply. In fact, it’s estimated that over 90 percent of U.S. tap water contains microplastics, and we don’t yet know what the health effects of this are.

Many corporations have been responding to plastic pollution by making pledges to transition away from disposable plastics in favor of recyclable plastics. For instance, this past summer, Starbucks announced that it will phase out plastic straws by 2020, and will replace them with a recyclable sippy cup lid similar to other single-use coffee lids.

But is it enough to switch to recyclable plastic? Unfortunately, it isn’t. The world is struggling to recycle all of the plastic that we currently have. A lot of plastic that is considered “recyclable” still ends up in the landfill.

Now that China is no longer accepting the bulk of U.S. plastic waste, Americans are being forced to address the realities of so-called “recyclable” plastic at home. Fewer plastics are being collected for recycling nationwide. As it turns out, the new Starbucks lid may not be recyclable in most areas after all.

Ultimately, this doesn’t change how important it is to recycle plastic. In fact, we should recycle all the plastic we possibly can, at all times. We don’t want valuable materials ending up in the landfill, and we don’t want to create more plastic than we need.

But even though recycling is great, it isn’t enough on its own. It would be even better if we could learn to reduce the plastic we’re using in the first place. By avoiding unnecessary consumption and switching to reusable materials, we can take a lot of pressure off of landfills and recycling centers.

Try to avoid single-use plastics as much as possible, and use only plastics that can be recycled locally. The less plastic we use, the less we need to recycle — and the less we’ll pollute our environment.

Learn more about what plastics we recycle in Stockton.

Tips to Green Your Halloween

10-14-2018

Halloween is a fun-filled holiday for kids and adults alike, but from candy wrappers galore to discarded pumpkins to throwaway costumes, it can also be a waste-filled holiday. In 2016 alone, Americans spent over $8 billion on Halloween items. That adds up to a scary amount of trash!

Just because Halloween colors are black and orange doesn’t mean the holiday can’t be green. Try these easy tips to help!

Costumes

Instead of buying a brand new costume each year (that may never be used again), use one of these tips for repurposing old clothes and costumes:

  • Shop for costumes at local thrift stores.
  • Recycle costumes from past years into new ones by mixing and matching pieces, adding different makeup or accessories, or passing them down from older children to younger children.
  • Make costumes out of clothing you already have. By adding makeup and accessories you can easily turn regular clothing to turn it into a costume. You’ll limit how much you need to buy, and avoid wearing the bulk of your costume only once.
  • Get inventive! Create a costume out of items you have lying around the house, such as cardboard boxes. You can check out Pinterest for DIY cardboard box costume ideas.
  • Share or exchange costumes with friends! A Halloween costume exchange can be a fun activity for friends or children of similar ages.
  • Don’t toss your costumes — save the ones you know you can reuse or repurpose into new costumes, or donate them to local thrift stores or theater programs. If a costume is no longer usable, dispose of it with other clothing and textiles.

Decorations

  • Opt for natural decorations, such as pumpkins, gourds, leaves and pinecones. These make great accents and table centerpieces that are also biodegradable.
  • If you’re decorating with pumpkins and gourds, remember that they can be composted! You can also toast and eat the seeds, or put dried seeds outside for birds and squirrels to eat.
  • Make your own Halloween decorations from newspaper and scrap paper, which can be recycled.
  • Choose decorations that can be saved and reused from year to year, instead of buying new ones each season.
  • Avoid plastic decorations such as fake cobwebs and plastic rings that are messy, easily lost, or quickly discarded. Plastic decorations like these are also not recyclable, so make sure they end up in the trash when they’re no longer wanted.

Candy

  • To collect candy, have your kids use pillowcases or reusable bags instead of store-bought plastic buckets. (The pillowcases will hold more candy, anyway.)
  • Be sure to toss all candy wrappers — they are not recyclable!

Happy Halloween!

Help Combat Hunger on World Food Day

10-7-2018

World Food Day, celebrated on October 16, honors the day the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded. The FAO is an agency in the United Nations that works on fighting hunger internationally.

Across the globe, 815 million people suffer from chronic hunger. And even though chronic hunger is a world issue, it’s also a problem faced by every community.

This World Food Day, consider donating food to our local food bank. Maybe you have some boxed or canned food in your cupboards that you’re not sure you’ll eat, or maybe you’re willing to spend a little pocket change for a good cause. Either way, it only takes a small action from each of us to help feed the hungry families in our own backyards.

Stockton Emergency Food Bank
7 W. Scotts Avenue, Stockton, CA 95203 | (209) 464-7369
Map & Directions
Donation Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30am – 2:30pm

Learn more about World Food Day and how you can get involved.

How Paper Is Recycled

9-23-18

In the United States, we use 71 million tons of paper each year. That’s about as heavy as 195 Empire State Buildings. Ever wonder how it all gets recycled? Watch this video to find out.

Paper Egg Cartons Are Recyclable

9-16-18

Paper egg cartons are recyclable!

To recycle your egg cartons, make sure they are clean and dry. If you place eggs back in the carton after cracking them, the carton is no longer recyclable due to the food residue. Food residue will contaminate the recycling process.

Paper egg cartons are a more eco-friendly choice than either plastic or foam egg cartons. Why? Not only are they recyclable, they’re also made from paper that has already been recycled. They are biodegradable, too!

Learn more about paper egg cartons.

Top 10 Most Littered Items

9-9-18

This year’s World Clean-Up Day will be held on September 15. Each year for the clean-up, volunteers from around the world pick up litter in their communities. In conjunction with the U.S. National Clean-Up Day and the International Coastal Clean-Up, millions of people from 150 countries unite through small local actions against illegal waste.

From streets to forests to beaches, litter is everywhere. It’s also expensive — Keep America Beautiful has estimated that litter costs local communities and businesses in the U.S. at least $11.5 billion each year in clean-up and prevention.

To make matters worse, litter often leaches pollutants into the environment, and it harms wildlife, as well. Litter is often carried by wind or rain into rivers and storm drains, where it pollutes our waterways. Recent research from the Netherlands indicates that over 550 marine species have been affected by plastic litter, either by becoming tangled in it or eating it.

Since this year’s clean-up is right around the corner, let’s take a look at some of the most commonly littered items. Here are the top 10 items picked up by Ocean Conservancy volunteers last year:

1. Cigarette Butts
2. Food Wrappers (Candy Wrappers, Energy Bar Wrappers)
3. Plastic Bottles
4. Plastic Bottle Caps
5. Plastic Grocery Bags
6. Other Plastic Bags
7. Straws
8. Plastic Takeout Containers
9. Plastic Lids
10. Foam Takeout Containers

To join this year’s World Clean-Up Day events, find a clean-up group in Stockton.

Recycling Prevents Ocean Litter

8-26-18

Did you know that 80 percent of ocean litter comes from land-based sources? When you recycle and dispose of items correctly, you make sure they don’t pollute our waterways. Learn more by watching this video from The Recycling Partnership.

Online Shopping Is Up, Cardboard Recycling Is Down

8-19-18

According to a recent article in USA Today, online shopping sales have climbed steadily the past five years. The surge in shipping has led to an increase in cardboard consumption as well.

This past year, however, recycling rates for cardboard fell by 300,000 tons. Why are the recycling rates dropping? It turns out that residents may not be as good at recycling cardboard as retail stores.

One of the issues is that only about 60 percent of residents have curbside recycling services to begin with. The other 40 percent either don’t have access to curbside services or choose not to have them.

Those who do have curbside recycling don’t always take the time to break down their cardboard properly for recycling. Another problem is that cardboard can become contaminated by something such as a forgotten slice of pizza in a pizza box. Now that China is accepting non-contaminated recyclables only, a bale of contaminated cardboard may end up in the landfill instead of a recycling facility.

Overall, industry experts estimate that residents recycle only 25 percent of their cardboard. If more boxes aren’t recycled, more trees will need to be cut down to make new ones.

So what can you do? Try to limit how much packaging you end up with in the first place. Reducing your use of materials is the most powerful step you can take. Then, whenever you do buy something with packaging, take the time to recycle everything you can, and recycle right.

Read more from USA Today, or learn more about what to do with cardboard here.

What Should I Do With Scrap Metal?

8-12-18

Scrap metal is any kind of recyclable metal or metallic material leftover from manufacturing or consumer products, including copper, steel, aluminum, brass, nickel and iron. Even though these metals are recyclable, they often end up in the trash because they aren’t recycled through our curbside program.

It’s important to recycle scrap metal because the more we recycle and reuse, the more we reduce ore drilling around the world. Since metals are valuable, you can also make some money while you’re at it! So how can you recycle your scrap metal?

The best way to make sure your scrap gets recycled is to take it to a local scrapyard. Find a list of scrapyards in our Recycling Guide, or try using the iScrap App to search for scrapyard locations and prices.

If you want help identifying scrap metal, use this guide to common types of scrap from Capital Scrap Metal, or check out iScrap’s list of the top 25 types of scrap metal.