How to Have a Plastic Free Summer


Plastic is ubiquitous, and sadly, it does not biodegrade. Instead, it goes through a process called photodegradation, which means the sun’s UV light actually breaks down the plastic into smaller and smaller pieces until it is so incredibly tiny we can hardly see it. Microplastics and the chemicals and toxins that it takes to create plastic, will regrettably, be in the environment forever.

Some main sources of plastic pollution are straws. The history of straws is built mostly on convenience and are not recyclable. It’s easy to say no to straws, simply ask your server or local barista to go sans straw. It might be intimidating the first few tries, but with enough practice and exposure, it will become second nature to ask for a drink without a straw. If you can’t go without a straw, grab yourself a reusable straw for when you are on the go. Stainless steel straws are always a great reusable option.

Next, swap out your traditional toothbrush for a bamboo handle toothbrush. Instead of heading to a landfill like a traditional toothbrush, bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable, but remember to remove the bristles from the handle before you toss it into a compost bin. Alternatively, you can purchase toothbrushes that are made from recycled plastic, one of the more well-known brushes is created from recycled yogurt cups!

Another great area to reduce your plastic consumption is in  hygiene products. From toiletries, to dish soap, to laundry detergent, and cleaning supplies, they practically all come in plastic packaging. Rethinking the way you purchase these products will drastically reduce your plastic footprint. Purchase bar soaps for the shower and specialized bar soap for the kitchen sink. Make your own chemical free cleaner and house it in an old jam jar. Craft your own 3 ingredient toothpaste. Purchase powder laundry soap that comes in a cardboard box. Choose to implement just one of these and you are on your way to a plastic free mentality!

Next, buy fresh, smart, and in bulk. When you purchase fresh food, it normally doesn’t come in packaging. Instead of reaching for the conveniently packaged and peeled baby carrots, grab a handful of loose large carrots instead. In the mood for trail mix? Instead of purchasing plastic bagged fruits and nuts, search for a grocery store near you that offers trail mix by the pound in a bulk section, and bring your own glass jars to fill it up! Stores like Sprouts, the Ocean Beach People’s Food Co-Op, and The Mighty Bin are always stocked up with tasty options!

So there you have it, a little inspiration to jump start your journey to going plastic free! For more resources on waste management and disposal, check out our free online database, or call our hotline at 1-800-237-BLUE (Incorporated Residents) or 1-877-R-1-EARTH (Unincorporated Residents). 

Don’t worry if you can’t give up all plastic cold turkey. Ease into it, every simple swap or small step helps preserve our shared environment! Decide to make a couple personal lifestyle adjustments and other plastic free alternatives will flow into your routine naturally!

6 Outdoor Activities for a Sustainable Summer

A Southern California summer is not made for staying inside. The sun’s too bright, the sky’s too blue, and it’s important for you to get outside and enjoy time with your family and friends. All of us staff at I Love A Clean San Diego are always taking time to enjoy our gorgeous local scenery. From all of our outdoor experiences, we decided to share a list of sustainable activities we love to help get you outside this beautiful time of year.

Tide-pooling. We get to live here in California, one of the few places in the world that has tide pools and they are a must when it comes to experiencing San Diego. Grab a friend and head out to Cabrillo National Marine Sanctuary, Sunset Cliffs, or La Jolla Shores. Explore all the critters in the tide pools. Make sure to tread lightly, because you are walking in and around their homes.

Surfing. We live in Southern California, which is known internationally for surfing opportunities. The more you surf, the more you get a first-hand experience of interacting with the ocean and all of the creatures there. Luckily, there are plenty of local surf shops that rent gear or schedule a surf lesson.

Beautiful views along San Diego trails Hiking. Hiking is free, fun exercise that anyone can do. Be sure to pack water in your reusable water bottle and head out on an adventure! The main rule with hiking is pack out what you pack in, leave only footprints, and take only pictures. Enjoy all the nature surrounding you, but be certain to leave it better than you found it. If you find any litter or debris and you’re not sure where to dispose of it, you can use or call our hotline 1-877-R-1-EARTH to help beautify and maintain your favorite spots.

Snorkeling. A nice dip in the ocean on a hot day is the ultimate summer activity and with a pair of swim fins, a diving mask and a snorkel, you can have your own personal ocean aquarium tour. The best places to snorkel are around our coastline’s reefs that are teeming with biodiversity. Check out La Jolla Cove or just south of the cove at La Jolla Shores to get an up close view of the leopard sharks while they’re around during the summer season!

Kayaking. If you are someone who prefers to be above the water rather than in the water, this is the summer sport for you. Kayak at La Jolla ShoresMission Bay, or any waterway near you and discover the wildlife.

Stand-up Paddleboarding. A personal favorite of mine, Stand Up Paddleboarding, a.k.a. SUPing, is a great way to leisurely move across the water and discover wildlife. Whether you decide to surf, kayak, or SUP, don’t forget to grab any litter you see while paddling in or out to drop in the nearest trash bin when you finish! This helps us continue to work on the goal of leaving nature in San Diego better than you found it.


Zero Waste Festival Guide

With music festival season upon us, thousands are flocking to Indio for Coachella and Stagecoach as well as many other festivals around the country. Navigating how to be as sustainable as possible while enjoying these festivals just takes a few steps to plan ahead so you can reduce your waste, protect the environment, and save a little money too. Here are a few tips to plan for a sustainable festival season:

Getting There

If you’re planning on attending a festival with your friends, start by organizing a carpool! Everyone can agree on a rendezvous spot and ride together, rather than meet up at the festival in separate cars. This saves a lot of money from parking fees and logistical headaches at the festival as well. Look for carpool incentives at upcoming festivals.

What To Wear

Where possible, avoid opting for fast fashion choices. It’s best to buy clothing, shoes and accessories second hand or organize a clothing swap with your friends. You can join us for one of our clothing swaps hosted by ILACSD staff! Our clothing swaps are a wonderful opportunity to engage in recycling, circular economy, find new pieces, and meet like minded community members.

Enjoying the Festival

During long festival days, it’s important to stay hydrated. Bringing a reusable water bottle or hydration pack saves money and avoids single-use plastics. Buying individual water bottles is not only wasteful for the environment, it also means waiting in long lines to buy water and spending a lot on marked up bottle prices. It’s best to plan ahead and bring reusables to refill at the water refill stations around the festival grounds.


We recommend planning ahead if you’re camping. Many festival websites have a sustainability page you can reference for ideas. Using reusable plastic or aluminum glassware, as well as reusable utensils and plates are a great option. All-in-one utensils work really well to avoid having to wash utensils while camping, including opting for reusable cloth napkins. Planning meals out in advance helps avoid using utensils or plates altogether to make cleanup easy and waste-free. For food, pre-slicing fruits and veggies at home, opting for handheld foods like hotdogs and sandwiches, and utilizing items with very minimal packaging saves time and minimizes waste. It can be tempting to bring prepackaged and individually wrapped meals, such as mini chip bags. Instead, choose homemade guacamole in a tupperware, homemade muffins, bulk snack foods in reusable bags, and other more zero waste choices.

More Tips

Set up your campsite to make it easy on those with less knowledge of recycling and composting. A good tip is to set up bags for trash, a bin for food scraps, and a bag for recycling. For more recycling tips, visit or call our hotline at 1-800-237-BLUE (1-800-237-2583) for incorporated residents and 1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784) for unincorporated residents.

Spring Cleaning: Tips To Declutter & Refresh Your Home This Season

Spring is here! There is no better time for some spring cleaning! Decluttering your home of unwanted items, thoroughly cleaning room to room, wiping the dirt off every nook and cranny you can find – these are all a part of the exciting (and sometimes tedious) spring cleaning routine. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of tips on where to donate or recycle items you no longer need and DIY recipes for your home cleaning needs.

Cleaning Out Your Closet

Donating your clothes to non-profit organizations will ensure you’re donating to a good cause and helping those in need.

San Diego Rescue Mission 

San Diego Rescue Mission accepts clothing and shoes that are fairly new or gently used. They take into account the wishes of the donor and your requests on how the items you donate will be used. Most of their donations are given to students and guests at the San Diego Rescue Mission according to their needs.

Father Joe’s

Father Joe’s accepts clothing and shoes that are clean and gently used and resells them at their thrift stores. The money collected from reselling the donations goes directly towards helping the homeless population in San Diego.

Many mail-in programs exist for clothing and shoe donations, where most items are sent to developing countries for people who are poverty stricken and are in need of clothes.


Soles4Souls is a free mail-in program which aims to turn unwanted shoes and clothing into opportunity, creating jobs and empowering people to break the cycle of poverty. Shoes are distributed to people in need and are also used to help people launch and sustain their own small businesses selling donated shoes and clothing.

Retold Recycling

Retold Recycling is a mail-in program that accepts damaged or very worn-out clothes and textiles (blankets, towels, bed linens, etc.) for recycling. Whether it’s just one sock or a full bag of clothing, Retold makes sure none of it ends up in the landfill. The items are sorted by type and quality and are then sent to thrift stores, charities, upcyclers, recycling companies, and developing countries to support micro-economies.

USAgain Drop Off Bins

USAgain accepts clothing and shoes that are in reusable condition. Items in fairly good condition are given to people who don’t have the option to buy new clothes, allowing them to conserve funds for other basic necessities such as food, shelter, and education. Some are sold to small shop owners or second-hand stores who are in need of products to make ends meet. Items that are battered, such as fabric scraps, are either reused as wiping rags or shredded to insulation material for appliances and vehicles.

Many clothing brands have a take-back program. If you bring back a used item, you could get a discount to purchase a new item.


Madewell has a Do-Well recycling program in place where they offer free repairs in stores for patching, mending, and other fixes. Used jeans are also available for purchase at their stores. If you have fallen out of love with your jeans, you can turn them in at Madewell, which then turns those old bootcuts into housing insulation for communities in need.


Patagonia has a Worn Wear program where you are able to trade in or mail in used Patagonia garments that are still in good condition in exchange for store credit. They also offer a used clothing section as well as repair services in order to expand the lifespan of clothing and keep them out of the landfills.

North Face

North Face accepts used apparel and footwear in any condition and brand at their stores and rewards $10 towards your next purchase when you sign up for their XPLR Pass. Approved items are then washed, prepped and sold through the North Face Renewed program, donated, or recycled. First time users get a 10% discount on purchases too!

To Clean Everything Else: Sustainable Cleaning Recipes

All-Purpose Cleaner 
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 tsp. biodegradable liquid soap or borax
  • 1 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice (cuts grease)

Directions: Fill a spray bottle with hot water. Add soap and vinegar or lemon juice. Shake the bottle gently to dissolve the ingredients.

Floor Cleaner 
  • 2 cups warm water 1/4 cup biodegradable liquid soap or detergent
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar or lemon juice

Directions: Combine the ingredients in a large plastic bucket. Use it with a mop or sponge.

Glass Cleaner 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 cup vinegar

Directions: Fill bottle with both ingredients and shake for 30 seconds. Use on all types of glass surfaces, including mirrors.

Tub and Tile Cleaner
  • 1/2 cup baking soda Enough liquid soap to make a frosting-like consistency
  • 5-10 drops of essential oil of your choice. (Pro tip: Try using eucalyptus, tea tree or Peppermint oil!)

Directions: Place baking soda in a bowl and slowly pour in liquid soap, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches the consistency of frosting. Add drops of essential oil (optional). Scrub surface with sponge and mixture, and rinse.

Toilet Cleaner 
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup vinegar

Directions: Place baking soda in a bowl and slowly pour in liquid soap, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches the consistency of frosting. Add drops of essential oil (optional). Scrub surface with sponge and mixture, and rinse.

Zero Waste New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year! The start of 2024 is exciting, not only because we are celebrating our 70th anniversary but because the new year gives us a moment to reflect on the year ahead.

The new year is a great time to set intentions for the year. Consider setting goals to adopt a zero waste lifestyle. By doing so, you will reduce the amount of litter sent to the landfill, become more sustainable, and minimize your carbon footprint. We’ve gathered a few ideas to help you get started.

Buy Local

Find your local farmer’s market and add it to your monthly routine. Shopping locally reduces fossil fuel-based transportation costs.

Conduct a Waste Audit 

Spend a week collecting your litter to understand what you’re throwing away. Then, select one disposable item you can replace with a reusable alternative. Some ideas: reusable produce bags, safety razors, handkerchiefs, chopsticks, stainless steel straws, beeswax wraps, and sandwich bags.

Be Mindful of Energy Use

Start by selecting one appliance to unplug when not in use. Toasters, cell phone chargers, and fans are great places to start. Or look into more sustainable options, like the SDG&E EcoChoice Program.

Reduce Food Waste

Learn how to properly store fresh produce to extend their life.

Thrift and Buy Goods Secondhand

Shop at a thrift store, and make it a goal to shop there 3 times throughout the year. Or try to score free finds from friends, neighbors, and family looking to downsize!

Learn a New Skill

Canning, gardening, and sewing are great skills for your zero waste journey. Or learn to do your own car maintenance or bicycle repair. YouTube is always a great resource for this.

Shave Two Minutes Off Your Shower Time

Most shower heads have a flow of 2 gallons per minute. This minor adjustment will save four gallons per shower. If we make a very modest assumption that you shower once a week, that equates to 208 gallons saved over the course of the year. If you shower daily, that’s 1,460 gallons saved. For a better idea of how much water you use, check out this water calculator.

Try One Recipe a Week Using Bulk Items

Soups, grains, granola bars, and baked goods are great dishes for bulk success!

Plant an Herb Garden

You’ll only need to pick the amount you need per recipe instead of letting half a bunch of mint wilt in the back of the fridge. If you’re short on space, try a vertical garden.


Read an article a week about zero waste and sustainability, listen to podcasts, watch videos, find books, and get inspired by others. Visit our events calendar at to register for a webinar or workshop!


Carpool to one event or outing per month.

Plant Native

Native plants require less water and maintenance. They also provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other native wildlife.

Go Vegetarian 3 Days a Week

Learn more about why with this YouTube video.

Start Composting

Check out our Classroom Composting lesson plan for basics about starting a vermicompost.

Reduce Paper Use

Assess any print publication subscriptions (or junk mail), and find one to eliminate. Once you’ve read past copies of the periodical, contact your local library, elementary school, or scouting group to see if they’re interested in using your old copies.

Attend a Community Cleanup

Not only will you be removing debris from our environment, but dedicating time to collect litter from the street will spur your motivation to reduce your reliance on single-use items. Scroll through our events page to stay up-to-date on our public cleanups!

Get Outside

Hike, stargaze, bike, swim, camp and explore. The more you connect with the natural world, the more dedicated you will be to preserving it for generations to come.

Get Familiar with our Free database and hotline! is a free online database that includes a wealth of information on thousands of recycling, donation, and repair centers throughout San Diego County. Next time you ask yourself, “Where can I properly dispose of this item?” make sure you visit or call our hotline to speak to a live operator. By using the database to locate centers for proper disposal and recycling of unwanted items, individuals like you can contribute to reducing the materials that reach our landfills.

Christmas Tree Recycling Guide 2023

Convenient Christmas tree recycling drop-off and curbside locations are offered throughout the region.

The holiday season is here! Convenient Christmas tree recycling curbside and drop-off locations are offered throughout the region and are a great way to help divert your Christmas tree from the landfill following the holiday festivities.

Why Recycle Your Christmas Tree?
When organic materials like Christmas trees, food, and other yard clippings are sent to the landfill, they release methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide in warming the atmosphere. Proper disposal prevents needless organic material from occupying space in our crowded San Diego landfills. Recycled Christmas trees are made into mulch, which is then used to improve soil health at public parks, local farms, and homes.

Where to Recycle Your Christmas Tree?


Drop-off Locations

Still not sure where to take your Christmas tree for recycling after reviewing this list? Call I Love a Clean San Diego’s hotline for help from a live attendant Monday – Friday 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM.

Incorporated County Residents, please call 1-800-237-BLUE

Unincorporated County Residents, please call 1-877-R-1-EARTH


8 Tips for a Zero Waste Holiday Feast

Food is the highlight of many of our holiday traditions and memories. We can all think of a holiday dish that makes us smile and our mouths water instantly.

Food is the highlight of many of our holiday traditions and memories. We can all think of a holiday dish that makes us smile and our mouths water instantly. Yet, San Diegans dispose of 500,000 tons of food each year. During the holidays, millions of pounds of uneaten turkey, gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes, and other seasonal trimmings unfortunately end up in the landfill. This accounts for ⅓ of all food that is wasted each year.

According to a recent study, food waste amounts to the cost of approximately $1,500 per year, per family. Wasted food also wastes money, time, labor, transportation, water, and land used in food production. Aside from this waste, food decomposes anaerobically (without oxygen) in landfills releasing methane gas, a driver of global climate change that is up to 86 times more potent in trapping heat than carbon dioxide. San Diego County residents have the power to change this during the holiday season, and the study suggests that the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is the perfect place to start!

Implementing some simple changes can reduce your food waste and support a healthy environment. Here are some simple tips to save money and help the environment while enjoying delicious holiday meals.

Cook and serve with a plan

The easiest way to reduce food waste during the holidays is to buy and prepare the right amount of food. Save the Food, a campaign of the Ad Council in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council, created a tool to help save money and time while reducing food waste. Their Guest-imator helps create a menu based on how many people are attending the holiday feast.

Once the home chef knows roughly how much food is needed, create a detailed shopping list and stick to it. This will prevent getting sucked in by holiday displays appealing sales throughout the store, sometimes causing excessive purchases that may not be needed and may not actually be eaten.

When shopping for ingredients, opt for unpackaged items or bring your own cloth bags to minimize unnecessary waste further. In case there isn’t a package-less option for your groceries, learn how to Recycle Right on this county website.

Shop at local farmers’ markets

Nothing better than a festive farmer’s market! Visit one of the 36 certified farmers’ markets in San Diego County and buy local, unpackaged produce directly from regional farmers. View this resource from the county for a list of regional certified farmers’ markets.

Embrace all foods

When shopping, most people select the best-looking produce, meaning the “ugly” fruits and vegetables are often left on the shelves. If these items are not sold in time, they may be destined for the landfill. This wasted produce has the same vitamins and nutrients as their “prettier” counterparts but is not chosen simply because of looks. Give all produce a chance at the grocery store or farmers’ markets, especially if the chosen produce is part of a larger dish.

Go for plant-based meals

Did you know it takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef? Incorporating more plant-based foods into holiday celebrations, such as green bean casserole, lentil shepherd’s pie, and stuffed peppers, can cut the environmental cost of meals significantly. Find more plant-based holiday recipes here.

Shrink serving sizes

During the meal, reduce portion waste by using smaller dishes and smaller serving spoons – seriously, it works! People can always come back for seconds.

Anticipate yummy leftovers

Having a plan for leftovers is another way to ensure that the food prepared is eaten. After all, half the goodness of holiday food is in the delicious leftovers the next day. Provide containers for guests to take remaining food home, freeze leftovers for a later date, or use those leftovers in creative ways. Some recipe ideas can be found here.

Donate unused items –

Visit for more tips, including how to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer, and for donation locations for regional food pantries. Currently, about 1 in 4 people in San Diego County are nutritionally insecure.

Spare your drains

Prevent the “fatberg.” Another important way to protect our environment (and your plumbing) this holiday season and year-round is to properly manage used cooking oil. Deep-fried turkeys have become an increasingly popular holiday tradition, but can use up to three gallons of cooking oil. When discarded down drains, oils, fats, and greases can block pipes and damage plumbing systems. Contrary to popular belief, mixing oil with soap or pouring hot water down the drain afterward are ineffective methods for preventing “fatbergs” that cause sewage backups.

Fortunately, there are free drop-off locations for used cooking oil. Collect cooled cooking oils in a secure lidded container labeled “used cooking oil.” Do not mix chemicals or other liquids with the cooking oil. To find the closest drop-off location, visit the Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database,, or call 1-877-R-1-EARTH (1-877-713-2784).

Residents interested in learning more about food waste reduction can visit the County of San Diego’s Recycling website. To learn more about composting resources and options, please visit and click on Resources.

Reduce Waste This Fall Season with These DIY Halloween Tips and Tricks

Tips and tricks on how to make this year’s Halloween a more eco-friendly one.

Reduce Waste This Fall Season with These DIY Halloween 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.

Waste Audit – Starting Your Zero Waste Journey

Starting your journey towards a more zero-waste lifestyle starts at home! From the food you eat to the soaps and products you use, it’s important to understand where these items are sourced, as well as the impacts these items have on our shared environment.

What is zero waste? First, let’s define what zero waste is to better understand how it affects you and what it means for our communities.

Zero waste is the process of eliminating reusable or repairable materials from ending up in the landfill. Zero waste encourages manufacturers, municipalities, and consumers to evaluate current consumption patterns and minimize single-use items. In order to divert materials from the landfill, we must share the responsibility of producing and consuming sustainable products while limiting our use of disposable items.

While not everything in your home can be hand crafted and biodegradable, knowing what you already have, how to make it last and how to get creative with reusable items by conducting a waste audit can help.

Step 1: Take note of what you are using in your home and in your daily life. Create a list and write down everything you use. Separate by category (i.e.: toiletries, cleaning products, etc.) Using the notes feature on your phone, some scratch paper or a white board are good tools for this.

If you need to declutter your space of any unwanted items, you can check out to access a free database of how and where to properly dispose of items or schedule for pickup. If you’re looking to sell anything, Facebook Marketplace is a great way to quickly sell any items.

Step 2: See what items you tend to throw away the most – is it plastic packaging from takeout, product packaging from online shopping, or food waste from leftovers being forgotten?

Try this! A good alternative to using single-use takeout containers is to bring your own to restaurants just in case you have leftovers you want to take home with you!

Step 3: See if you can start to change these habits so you are reducing waste and find more sustainable options out there, such as shopping locally in person when you can,  shopping in bulk, and going to refill stores.

Together, by cultivating an awareness of what we are purchasing and using, we are capable of making a collective change that will reduce the amount of waste that is collected in our local landfills.

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.

How To Be Sustainable on Your Summer Trip

It’s no secret that traveling is one of the best parts of summer, be it a trek over 2,700 miles away to NYC or just 2 miles to Mission Beach. Unfortunately, when piecing together travel plans, green habits tend to turn a bit gray. Lucky for us, the reality of sustainable traveling is as easy as making small choices that lessen the impact we have on our destinations and the environments we cross to get there. Here are a few tips to consider to go green on your next summer trip.

Before Leaving

Any change starts at home and if you’re going on vacation anytime soon, be sure to minimize your ecological footprint in your home as much as possible while you’re away. You can do this by following these few simple steps:

Adjust Your Thermostat

You’re going to be gone for a few days, and if there are no pets or people, there is no reason to have the AC on full blast nor should the heat be on. Given we are in the midst of summer, your thermostat should be set around 85º F (you could even turn it off if you want) so long as it doesn’t interfere with any temperature-sensitive appliances like your refrigerator.

Unplug Electronics

We are constantly using electricity even when we don’t realize it. Any time an electronic device or appliance is plugged in, even if it’s not in use, it is still using electricity. That electricity being used is produced primarily through the burning of fossil fuels, about 60%, according to the U.S. Energy and Information Administration. So before you go, don’t forget to unplug any gaming system, TV, laptop, toaster, or microwave that would otherwise be using power while you’re away. Check out these energy saving tips.

What to Bring

Deciding what to pack for a trip is one of the most important phases of the pre-trip process. What you bring impacts your choices once you’re there, so why not set yourself up for sustainable success by keeping the following in mind during your packing.

Pack Your Own Reusable Shopping Bags

Simply roll one or two bags up and tuck them into your suitcase or backpack to cut down on the packaging you would otherwise throw away when shopping in a different city. This is also a helpful day bag option if you don’t want to haul all of your luggage around town!

Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle

One water bottle takes on average at least 450 years to degrade, and it takes about twice as much water to produce a plastic water bottle as the amount of water inside the bottle. Consider skipping the plastic bottle all together and invest in a durable bottle.

Bring Less, Pack Light

There are a plethora of benefits that come along with packing light, ranging from saving on baggage fees when flying to knowing what you have is what’s by your side. The biggest benefit, however, comes from the shrinking of your carbon footprint when you fly, the less you bring the less weight the airplane carries which lessens the plane’s fuel use and carbon emissions.

Choose Your Method of Travel Wisely

Let’s get this out the way now: walking is the most sustainable mode of transport we will ever have. When it comes to making sustainable travel decisions, the distance you’re traveling is the most important factor.

Local Trips

When heading out to the beach to meet up with friends, consider taking public transportation. Not only will you save on gas, but you’ll also help improve local air quality which is often much worse in urban areas where traffic tends to suffer from congestion.

Another option (for those close enough) is to get the gang together and then bike to your destination.

Further Destinations

According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Climate Portal, public transportation emits far less greenhouse gas emissions compared to cars, due to the higher number of people buses can carry in one trip. On top of saving the environment from additional emissions, you also save yourself a few bucks with the average Amtrak ticket ranging from $20-$400 one-way depending on the distance traveled and how early you book, the price of domestic flight tickets, which are up 14% this year, and bus services such as Greyhound being considerably cheaper than both.

Long Distances

In the cases you find yourself traveling by air, be sure to fly the most direct route to your destination. Not only will this shorten your travel time, but it will also reduce your fuel consumption as you’re taking less total flights.

Once You’ve Arrived

Stay at a Green Hotel or with Family and Friends

If you’re not leaving the United States, check if the hotel you’re planning on staying at is LEED certified by the US Green Business Council, they judge on sustainability, efficiency, and quality of the way buildings are constructed, maintained and operated. If you are going overseas be sure to find out what that countries green hotel certification program is and what hotels are certified.

If you have any family or friends where you’re going, ask them if you can crash at their place for a few nights.

Keep Your Shopping Habits Local

When staying in a place far from home, we tend to cling to things we are familiar with, be it a certain kind of soap or a certain kind of food. Many of these things must be flown or shipped from overseas, which only contributes to greenhouse emissions. Every time you buy local, you not only support the local economy but you also get a unique taste of the local culture and cuisine.

Rethink Souvenirs

For many of us, one of the best parts of traveling is the cool stuff we buy while out globetrotting. When out shopping, ask yourself if you really need that little knick-knack or if a picture of it would suffice. If you still want to shop around, just follow the advice from above and stay local because who wants something made from an assembly line a thousand miles away anyhow?

Getting Around

Though it may be easier to call up an Uber or taxi service to drive you around, the average vehicle still releases about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year according to the EPA. As an alternative try renting a bike from either a bike shop or at an automated bike rental stand. Another option would be to take public transportation which reduces the amount of CO2 emitted per person or just walk, eliminating these emissions completely.

Remember that even if you just put into action one of the tips above you will be making a difference and be one step closer to traveling sustainably. Safe travels!

How To Host Your Own Sustainable BBQ This Summer


Summer is the season to fire up the grill and spend time with friends and family! Before you plan your next backyard BBQ, here are some great tips and easy swaps to keep your gathering sustainable while helping you to reduce waste along the way. 


Avoid purchasing pre-packaged or pre-made food items

Cut down on the amount of single-use plastics and create your own tasty recipes from home! You can use sites like Pinterest to get recipe inspiration. Or, to make things easier on the host, you can have a potluck, where all of your guests bring one homemade dish to share. 


Incorporate more fresh vegetable and fruit options

Eating a diet rich in leafy greens and fruits packed with vitamins is not only healthier for you, it is also healthier for our environment! Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other plant-based foods require less land and overall resources to grow and produce less greenhouse gas emissions compared to animal products you buy at the store. 


Visit Your Local Farmer’s Market

To make sure you’re getting the best quality and value during your next grocery trip, try purchasing from a local organic market or look for produce labels that have the location of where it was grown. The closer it’s grown in your region, the fresher it will be and you will be doing your part to support local farmers!


Buy local produce and sustainably sourced meat and fish

Be on the lookout for where your meat and fish are farmed or fished. Buy from local fish markets and check which fish are in season to help ensure a sustainable impact on fish populations is maintained. For meat and poultry, free-range, organic, and grass-fed options are best due to typically better living conditions and overall sustainable land management practices. Here are some local fish markets and farms in San Diego County: 



BYO reusables and avoid single-use plastic cutlery

Whether you’re hosting an outdoor barbeque or an intimate gathering with friends, avoid using single-use plastic cutlery. Using reusables will help reduce the amount of waste in our landfills, and will also save you money in the long run, instead of purchasing new single-use utensils and plates each time you host. You can buy reusable bamboo cutlery sets in bulk to have on hand. Encourage your guests to bring reusable containers for leftovers. 



Make your own drinks

Making your own beverages is an easy swap to make instead of using bottled and canned beverages, saves money, and is more fun! You can create your own cocktail (or mocktail) station for your guests to get creative and serve them in these festive glass jars with bamboo lids for a nice touch (plus, they are spill-proof!)


Cover up your charcoal grill when not using it or opt for cleaner fuel

Making conscious choices can start during the grilling process. A tight-fitting lid cooks meat faster and more evenly while using less fuel. Use reusable grilling tools and accessories like metal skewers. Use condiments and food that you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. If you’re looking to upgrade your grilling set-up, you can always purchase a gas grill that is more energy efficient and uses a cleaner fuel source.



Zero-Waste Tips When Dining Out

Going out for a meal is an experience we all enjoy. In this blog, we have compiled 6 easy tips to ditch waste and reduce our environmental impact when eating out. Start by applying just one of the tips below during your next food journey and, over time, the more you repeat the tip the more it will become a habit. You got this and Bon Appetit!


Gleaning fruits and veggies from your garden is a great way to feed fellow community members and fight food waste! Read more to learn about orgs who can help save that edible food in San Diego.

Now introducing a fourth “R”… Repair!

You may have heard of reduce, reuse, repair before but do you know the fourth “R?” Repair! Including repairing damaged or worn items in your zero waste journey will reduce the waste you send to landfill.

Zero Waste Pets

It’s fun to spoil our pets when we can, but a zero waste mindset allows us to think about what our pets truly need. There are ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, even when taking care of a dog, cat, or other pet at home.

Zero Waste BBQ

Summer means longer days, warmer weather, and spending more time outside. For San Diegans, this leads to beach days, barbecues and other outdoor events! It can also lead to a lot of waste – every summer, I Love A Clean San Diego collects thousands of pounds of litter from our local beaches. For your gatherings this this season, consider going zero waste! I Love A Clean San Diego wants to help you host a low waste barbecue so you can spend less time worrying about trash, and more time focused on fun!

California Electric Vehicle Road Map

Electric Vehicles, or EVs, are becoming more hip and prevalent, creating a more sustainable mode of transport. Most electric cars can travel around 150 miles on each charge, which makes them a great vessel for long range traveling and best of all – road trips! This California Electric Vehicle Road Map will take you on a tour of the most famous landmarks in California, Perfect for your traveling fun and energy efficiency!