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Zero Waste Communities of San Bernadino County

E-Waste? How 'bout No Waste?

Chances are you have used an electronic device today. Oh wait, you're reading this! That means the computer or mobile phone that is allowing you to check out the Zero Waste Communities blog will one day become what is known as electronic waste (e-waste).


Sadly, there are a lot of computers, televisions and other electronic gadgets out there that will be joining other computers  and cell phones in a heap of plastic and metal debris. Every year Americans dispose of almost 400 million e-waste items alone. Of that, the EPA estimates that only 20% is being recycled. We are here to change that and we need your help.


While electronic waste only accounts for 2% of all the trash in our landfills, these devices account for a significant 70% of toxic waste. Toxic you ask? Yes, toxic. Almost all electronic devices contain potentially polluting stuff like lead, mercury and sulfur.


So what are we to do? More and more we are relying on these item to entertain us, store our data and perform work tasks. They are becoming an essential part of our lives. While the United States hasn't yet banned these products from our landfills like the European Union did back in the 1990s, recycling centers and other appropriate disposal facilities are popping up all around us.


Not yet convinced you shouldn't just dump your old electronic goods in the ol' landfill? Here are some more facts to mull over. First, dumping electronics in trash in the state of California is actually illegal.


Wait, there's more. Cathode tubes in those old televisions and computers typically contain about 4 to 7 lbs of lead alone!


It is estimated that 50 million cell phones are replaced around the world each month with only 10% ever being recycled and even less are being reused. If we recycled one million of these cell phones, it would be the equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of taking 1,368 cars off the road for an entire year.


One last important item to keep in mind when thinking about e-waste's impact on our environment: electronic goods are more often than not trashed before they even stop working properly! So if you have old electronics that are working properly, why not donate them to someone who may be able to use them instead? It's something to consider before you throw it away.


We hope you will join us in keeping e-waste out of our landfills. If you live in San Bernardino, check out CalRecycle's electronic waste search engine to find the location closest to you. Also, San Bernardino's HHW program also accepts e-waste. So there is no excuse for trashing those electronic gadgets!

Going Native: How Organic Gardening Reduces Household Waste

Summer is almost here and that means a lot of us are getting our gardens and yards in tip-top shape. Did you know that planting native plants around your home can dramatically reduce the amount of waste you end up producing? It's true! Here's why.


If your household is like 78 million other homes in the United States, you likely use some pesticides and herbicides on your landscaping, in your garden or on your lawn. Herbicides alone count for the majority of these applications, a whopping 90 million pounds are applied per year! The less we use of these types of chemicals on our yards, the less risk we have of them being disposed of improperly and the less we have to dispose of overall. Unfortunately, a lot of these pesticides and herbicides end up in our trash and then our landfills. As a result, they can make their way into our drinking water supplies and even our waterways.


If you do choose to use pesticides and herbicides, please dispose of excess chemicals by taking them to your local Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facilities. To learn more visit our page on HHW, or give a call to 1-800-OILY-CAT for a location near year. While you are at it, remember that HHW facilities also take items such as batteries, paint, pool supplies, hobby chemicals, motor oil and furniture polish.


So you don't have time to trek to the HHW facility? Go native!  There are dozens of plants that are native to your area and don't need pesticides or fertilizers to thrive. As a result you will not need to dispose of these types of chemicals because you won't have to buy any to begin with!


Check out the cool video below on the top . The bottom line is this: the less maintenance your lawns and yards require, the less waste is produced.




Ditch the Chemicals and Clean Green!


Our homes can stay clean without the use of chemicals, or so says author Tara Rae Miner who recently wrote the book, Your Green Abode: A Practical Guide to a Sustainable Home.


Tara writes in Your Green Abode that the average person living in American uses close to 25 gallons of hazardous chemical products in his or her home -- the majority of those make up our everyday cleaning products. In fact, she notes that more than 32 million pounds of household cleaning products are poured down the drain in a single day right here in the United States.alt


That's a lot of chemicals and a lot of waste. Water treatment plants were not actually designed to handle all these chemicals, so dumping them down the drain and sewer can actually contaminate groundwater supplies. What are some of the chemicals you ought to dispose of (properly of course!)? How about chlorine, ammonia and all acid-based cleaners, such as those used in toilets and bathrooms. Other common household cleaners contain potent and toxic stuff like ethylene-based glycol and diethylene glycol monobutyl ether - both of which can harm lungs and pollute the air.


Fortunately, there are a lot of non-toxic, eco-friendly ways to clean messes in our homes. Your Green Adobe lists quite a few alternatives to the chemical based cleaners that dominate the grocery shelves and cupboards across America:


Distilled white vinegar: Easy to find and even easier to use. Distilled white vinegar deodorizes, sanitizes and gets rid of bacteria, mold and nasty germs. It can also be used as a fabric softener that will get rid of detergent residue and wash out the stinky stuff.


Baking soda: Make your bathroom and kitchen sparkle. Suck the stink out of your fridge or those dirty clothes in the wash. The list of uses for baking soda is long; just check out Arm & Hammer's site for a (non-toxic) taste.


Liquid castile soap: Typically made with vegetable oil, castile soap is very mild and eco-safe. It dissolves well in water and it can puncture through the most stubborn body odors. Unlike most soaps, castile soap is free of petroleum, so you can feel good about that. And most are even organic!


Lemon: Want to polish that old wood furniture? Clean up that pan? Well, a lemon will do it. It's all natural, freshly scented and completely eco-friendly. It's even safe for humans to eat!


This is just the tip of a very big eco-friendly cleaning products laundry list. Your Green Adobe chronicles many more products that are safe for humans and Mother Nature. So read up and get to cleanin'!

DIY Composting and its Benefits to Nature and You

Last week we talked about how composting and recycling can contribute to a 

substantial reduction in greenhouse emissions. This week, we'll explain how you can make a compost bin in the comfort of your own home or backyard!.


But first, what exactly is composting? Composting is a natural process of recycling grass, leaves, and other yard waste into rich soil. Anything that was once alive will decompose. Compost bins simply accelerate this natural process. When this organic waste re-enters the soil, the cycle of life continues onward. When this material becomes compost it will resemble a dark brown color that smells of a forest floor.


The benefits of composting are many. Here's just a few (not including the greenhouse gas reduction!):


*Composted soil retains water better than regular soil

*Food and yard waste account for 30% of materials found in our waste stream

*Homemade compost reduces costs compared to store purchased compost

*Composted soil produces healthier, more adaptable and nutrient rich plants


So what are you waiting for? Check out this DIY video below to learn how you can make your own compost bin. You will also hear a few more good reasons for tossing that yard and food waste into the garbage can. Talk about saving a few bucks and nature at the same time!

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If you still prefer to utilize a compost bin, many cities within County of San Bernardino sell them to residents at a discounted price. Please contact your local jurisdictions for more information.

How Composting and Recycling can Decrease Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Here's something that might come as a surprise: diverting recyclable and compostable materials from the garbage waste cycle can reduce an enormous amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). How much you ask? Well, composting and recycling programs in Oregon, Washington and California alone reduce GHC emissions equivalent to taking a whooping 6.3 million vehicles off of our roads for an entire year.


Shocking right? We thought so too. That's a lot of GHG! The information was found in a fascinating new report by the West Coast Climate and Materials Management Forum, an EPA-led partnership with an array of western government entities, called "Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions through Recycling and Composting".


The study points to four categories that have the greatest potential for reducing GHC emission if they are diverted from the waste stream and composted or recycled accordingly. The four categories are: carpet, core recyclables such as cans, paper and glass, dimensional lumber and food scraps.


Who knew composting and recycling would help reduce some of the very gases that contribute to climate change? The report, while focusing on only three western states, could have a broader impact on communities across the country. The bottom line is simple, the better established recycling and composting programs are, the less GHGs emitted. That's good news for the environment and for the climate that sustains it.


One other thing, it's also super good for the economy. The report indicates that in the three states mentioned previously, composting and recycling only half of the core recyclables and food waste yields about $1.6 billion in annual salaries, $818 million in additional goods and $309 million in sales across the West Coast. That's a lot of green cash for a greener, cleaner environment!


So how does it work you ask? Why would diverting these items from the waste cycle decrease GHG emissions? It's simple, actually. When items like food aren't placed in the landfill, the methane gases they produce are not released into the environment in the same manner. Composting such materials will allow these decomposed foods to be absorbed into nutrient rich soil instead.


The same goes for carpet, the most energy intensive of all the materials discussed in the report. Carpets are made from petroleum and natural gas and require a lot of energy to produce. While recycling carpets used to be technologically challenging, it is becoming much easier to do so and is having a positive impact on the environment in the meantime.

The largest reduction by any one source material can actually happen if communities and industry actively promote the recycling of carpet. And it's the same story for all source materials, be they glass, paper or plastic in makeup.


To learn a bit more about GHG emissions and it impact on our environment, check out this news piece on the EPA's greenhouse gas position:

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Don’t Burn Rubber, Recycle it Instead

Chances are you've been in a car recently. You've likely even been behind the wheel, driven to work or dropped the little ones off at school. Cars, and all of their accessories, are a part of our life for better and for worse. There is little question that automobiles impact our planet, but there are some things we can do to make sure the rubber that meets the road doesn't end up wasting away in our landfills.


That's right, we are talking tires. Every year the United States disposes an average of one tire per person, which equates to approximately 27 million tires per year.  That's a lot of tires and consequently, its also a lot of waste. All these tires take up much needed space in our landfills. Stockpiled tires can easily cause dangerous fires and burn for long periods of time, releasing toxic pollution into the air.


There are a lot of ways tires can be reused and recycled, and around 75% of tires end up being reused in one form or another. Some companies are making shoes, others are producing playground surfaces, floor mats and even office supplies. The list is truly endless, and tires are a great example of how innovation can create great things with old products. Check out the CA Gov's Cal Recycle page for more recycled tire uses. 


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What Do Plastic, Beaches and Art Have in Common?

We’ve all been to the beach and likely seen litter and plastic pieces strewn about. Hopefully most of the pieces and tossed in the recycling bin. Sadly, a lot of plastic in our oceans. The Algalita Foundation, which monitors ocean pollution, estimates that 80% of marine debris comes from humans on land. Of that, 65% comes from consumer used plastics that have been disposed of improperly. Even if you live inland, plastics can make their way to the ocean and into our local waterways. Not all of it is captured before it races out to sea. Once at sea, it can travel hundreds upon hundreds of miles and float around for decades on end.


Some of this plastic returns to shore, but much of it swirls around in what some call the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, which is an area in the North Pacific’s Subtropical Gyre. Essentially this vast area is a plastic soup vortex where debris gets caught and doesn’t leave. That’s a lot of plastic, which can harm and kill aquatic life when they confuse the pieces for food.  Let’s not also ignore that the plastic that makes its way to the shore is a very nasty sight for us beach goers.


In an effort to educate the public about the problem, as well as to visualize how much plastic is actually out there, artists Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang of Northern California have been making art with the plastic they find on their local beach for the past thirty years. While inspiring, their work is also striking in its ability to convey plastic’s real impact on our planet.


Check out Richard and Judith’s work and hear why they continue to produce art with the plastics they collect in the video below.

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Kickoff Interviews

Watch videos of our partner stores' managers speaking about how the Reusable Bag Campaign is helping your community to reduce waste.


Colleen from Albertons in Victorville Joseph from Clark's Nutrition in Loma Linda Rick from Fresh and Easy in Rialto
Colleen from Albertsons in Victorville Joseph from Clark's Nutrition in Loma Linda Rick from Fresh and Easy in Rialto


Tabling Interviews

Here are some videos of customers and employees of our partner stores sharing their thoughts on reusable bags and the Zero Waste Communities' Reusable Bag Campaign.


Bart at Clark's Nutrition in Loma Linda A Clark's Nutrition Customer in Loma Linda Shannen & Erica from Albertsons in Victorville
Bart at Clark's Nutrition in Loma Linda Joseph from Clark's Nutrition in Loma Linda Rick from Fresh and Easy in Rialto






"New campaign tries to oust plastic bags" in The Rialto Record, The Colton Courier and The El Chicano, March 10, 2011




How Big Is Your Collection Of Reusable Bags?

As the Zero Waste Communities' Reusable Bag Campaign prepares to roll out across San Bernardino County after a successful pilot program, we’d like to change our main question from “do you use reusable bags?” to “how many reusable bags do you have?”

If you’ve got more than 10 - wow, good job! But don’t worry if you feel like your number is too low. We’ve all got to start somewhere, so why not at one?







Join Us on Facebook and Score a FREE Zero Waste Reusable Tote Bag!
Join us on Facebook and Score a FREE Zero Waste Reusable Tote Bag!




It’s good to be social, as we can learn a lot from our local community. That’s why we are thrilled to announce that San Bernardino County Zero Waste is now on the world’s most popular social network, Facebook! Are you? If so, we’d love to have you join us and “Like” our page. The best part? We’ll send our first 30 friends a FREE reusable zip-n-tote bag from our Reusable Bag Campaign...

















Remember Your Reusable Bag!
Remember your Reusable Bag!

One item that we commonly see filling up trash bins in our area, not to mention flying around our streets, is the single-use plastic bag. Here at Zero Waste, it is our goal to make plastic bags a thing of the past.

As such, we're very proud to announce the launch of a new Reusable Bag Campaign that will reach a community near you! This campaign is a pilot program with concentrated efforts in the cities of Loma Linda, Rialto and Victorville...


Victorville Albertsons Promotes Reusable Bag Use with "Pay It Forward" Program

Have you ever stood in line at a grocery store, reusable bag in hand, and wondered why everyone was choosing plastic?  At those moments you probably wished you could hand out reusable bags and explain how plastics are polluting our environment.


You aren’t alone: Albertsons in Victorville feels your pain. In response, Albertsons holds occasional Pay it Forward Days that allows a customer to purchase a bag that is then given to the customer who shops after them.alt


Sounds pretty cool right? Well, we sure think so, and we decided to chat with Colleen Webster, the General Manager of Albertsons in Victorville, and one of the partners for our Reusable Bag Campaign. Her store will be holding a Pay It Forward Day on Saturday April 2 to correspond with a Zero Waste Reusable Bag Campaign tabling at the store.  Also, starting the week of April 4, Albertsons and Zero Waste will be starting a month-long promotion that will allow residents using reusable bags to enter a drawing to win a $50 Albertsons gift card. Be sure to visit us!




Zero Waste Communities: Hi Colleen! Could you tell us a little about Pay it Forward?


Colleen Webster: Certainly, the Pay It Forward program is a simple way to promote reusable bag use here in Victorville. It’s a great way to show our neighborliness as well as help the environment. Last time we held a Pay It Forward Day over 400 bags were sold!


Zero Waste Communities: Wow, that’s great! Have you seen a lot of those bags in circulation at your store after that day?


Colleen Webster: We sure have, We see lots of those reusable bags come back through our lines. There has been a big increase in reusable bag use in the last couple of years and we are happy to support that.


Zero Waste Communities: Did you develop the Pay iIt Forward program?


Colleen Webster: I wish I did! No, it’s actually an Albertsons corporate idea that we’ve been pretty successful with.


Zero Waste Communities: What are some of the impacts of the program?


Colleen Webster: Well, there are two things that come to mind. First, the less plastic bags we give out, the more money we save. But most importantly, it’s good for the environment. Plastic bags end up in our landfill. They also blow in the wind and get stuck in trees and shrubs. I have never once seen a reusable bag in a tree.


The program also gets people thinking about these issues and that’s a good thing.

Shoes that Reduce your Eco-Footprint

One of our goals here at Zero Waste Communities is to reduce the amount of plastics and other non-biodegradable products that end up in our landfills. Of course, without your help we’ll be stuck in the mud and won’t move forward.


Speaking of moving forward, take a look down at your feet. Are you wearing shoes right now? If not, we bet you probably did recently. You likely even have a few pairs in the closet or on the rug by your back door.


We often see shoes piling up in our garbage cans where they eventually make their way to the dump. We have a lot of shoes, so that’s a lot of trash. That got us thinking: wouldn’t it be cool if this footwear were recyclable? How about even biodegradable?alt


Most of us have more than one pair of shoes. We have our workout shoes, dress shoes, boots, casual shoes and those summer flip flops. Shoes are part of our lives and will be for the foreseeable future. With a little pressure, a lot of shoe companies are using recyclable materials in their footwear; some are even taking it a step further and using biodegradable products.


Nike even has a cool shoe take back program at their stores, where they reuse rubber from old athletic shoes to make subflooring for outdoor basketball courts, running tracks and playgrounds in inner cities. And don't forget, you can always donate your old kicks for good causes (check out last week's post on the subject in case you missed it).


OAT Shoes, a company based in Europe, is actually developing a 100% biodegradable shoe and it should be stateside in the years to come. The California-based Simple brand has an eco-line with a biodegradable shoe, and the running shoe company Brooks has a patented biodegradable sole that they are putting in a popular line of their fast kicks.


We applaud these companies and the others that are taking into consideration the environmental impact of their industry. So, next time you pick up a new pair of shoes, think about what may be best for the environment. (Talk about reducing our environmental "footprint"!)


But still, what do we do with our old shoes? Here’s an idea we hope gets some traction (yes, pun intended). Why not put a few small plants in them? That’s right, plants!



Are you willing to support eco-friendly companies and reduce your household’s waste? And what are you planning on doing with those old shoes you just can’t wear anymore?

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