How to Host a Clothing Swap (Video)

clothing

What if you could get a wardrobe refresh without ever hitting the mall or shopping online? It turns out you can.

Clothing swaps are a fun way to trade clothes with friends and family. You can declutter while hanging out with people you care about, and breathe some new life into your closet without spending any money. Check out this video from New Dream to find out how clothing swaps work and get some tips for hosting your own.

Has China Really Ended Recycling? No!

recycling bales

The news media has been flooded with stories recently about how China has stopped accepting recycling from the U.S. Headlines are declaring the end of recycling. But is that really true? Fortunately, no. We’re here to set the record straight.

Just because China isn’t recycling many of our materials anymore doesn’t mean our materials aren’t being recycled.

What Really Happened

The Chinese government began limiting what recyclable materials would be accepted years ago, so no one was all that surprised when they wanted to set even stricter rules. China is simply moving toward a long-term goal to eliminate recycling imports.

Why? First, as the Chinese economy has grown, the country is now generating enough of its own recyclables that they don’t really need ours anymore. Second, we historically were shipping materials that were neither clean nor well-sorted, so our low-quality shipments were getting too expensive to process.

What Does the China Ban Mean for Us?

Recycling isn’t dead, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. The materials you put in your garbage are still being sorted and making their way to facilities where they can be processed and recycled into new products and packaging.

What’s the difference? Now more of your recycling is being sold through local markets instead of international ones. This is actually a great shift for us, because we can invest in our own recycling economy and keep a closer eye on what happens to our valuable materials.

Here’s how you can help.

Food and liquids contaminate batches of recycling, so make sure recyclable containers are completely empty when you toss them in your garbage. That way, once they’re sorted, they are ready to be recycled.

Grammy Award Winner Releases Music Video About Plastic Pollution

American blues musician and four-time Grammy award winner Keb’ Mo’ just released a new song to help spread global awareness about plastic pollution. It’s called ‘Don’t Throw It Away.’ Check out the music video below, and remember — try not to buy stuff you’re going to throw away. Refusing and reusing always come before recycling or tossing in the trash.

Give yourself a refresher on what plastics we recycle by checking out the complete list in our Recycling Guide.

How to Fix a Pool Float

pool float

One of the saddest moments on a beautiful summer day is when your inflatable begins to deflate. Whether it’s a pool float, inflatable pool, boat tube or towable, air leaks are bound to happen. The thin vinyl is only so durable. But there’s good news — you don’t have to buy a new float every time this happens. Instead, you can extend the life of your float with a cheap, easy and sustainable option: repairing the leak.

Leaks can easily be identified and fixed with a few simple steps. This process also works for other seasonal items like inflatable pools, boat tubes and towables. All you need are the right tools, and your inflatables will be as good as new. Read these directions or watch the video below to learn just how easy this is to do at home.

Find the Leak

To determine where the air leak is coming from, start by fully inflating the float. You’ll need to leave the air in the float throughout the entire patching process as this makes it easier to repair. Once the float is fully inflated and the air valve is closed, you can determine the source of the leak through one of the following methods:

  1. Submerge the float in water. The leak will produce air bubbles in the water, making it easy to spot.
  2. Spray the area you think the leak is coming from with a cleaning product, then rub the cleaning product around. When you see bubbles consistently forming in one area, that is the air leak.

Once you find the source of the leak, cover it with a piece of tape or make a small mark over it so it can be easily identified when it’s time to make the repair. The float will then need to be completely dry before you begin patching it up.

Use the Right Tools

Before you can repair the leak, you will need to have the right patching tools on hand. Some inflatables come with a patch, or you may have to purchase a repair kit. You can also opt for a strong adhesive that’s not necessarily geared toward repairing leaks, like a shoe glue, depending on the size of the hole and the item you’re repairing. Whatever sealant you choose, just be sure that it’s flexible, strong and waterproof.

If you don’t use a patch, you will need duct tape to seal the hole. Just keep in mind that if the leak is on the seam of the inflatable, then duct tape and patches will not work due to the position.

Patch the Hole

Now that you’ve found the source of the leak and you’ve determined which tools you’re going to use to repair it, it’s time to patch up the hole.

Find the spot that you previously marked and generously apply the adhesive or sealant to the area. If using a patch or duct tape, make sure the piece is large enough to cover the surface area around the hole. Then, cover the hole with your patch or piece of duct tape.

Once the seal or patch has been applied, allow the area to completely dry before using the inflatable in water.

For visual, step-by-step instructions on repairing an inflatable leak, watch this short video:

Microplastics Have Reached the Deep Sea — in Monterey Bay

whale

Plastic pollution is no longer a surface level problem. Recent discoveries have uncovered that plastics have reached the deep sea. They’ve even been discovered in the deepest natural trench in the world.

What does this tell us? The critical state of plastic pollution is worsening. Plastics are now present throughout the entire ocean. And the harmful pollutants are closer to home than we once thought.

The Monterey Bay Study

A recent study conducted in Monterey Bay off the coast of Northern California found there are far more microplastics at the bottom of the sea than there are at the surface. A team of scientists tested the Bay’s water column to see how the concentration of plastic varied from the surface to the ocean floor. They found microplastics in every sample they took, and their samples showed that the highest concentrations of microplastics were located between 650 and 1,000 feet down. That’s four times as much plastic as they found at the surface.

Monterey Bay is a deep submarine canyon ecosystem. It’s an important conservation area for marine life, and part of the migratory path for gray whales and humpback whales. It is also part of the deep pelagic zone, the largest habitat on earth. Finding so much plastic here means there could be far more plastic than we know about in deep waters all over the world. These plastics will be far more difficult to remove than plastics floating near the surface.

Researchers determined that most of the plastic they found came from land, not from fishing activity. Additionally, the majority of the microplastics were plastic #1, or PET. This is the kind of plastic that is used in single-use items such as water bottles and takeout food containers.

How You Can Help

You can take action to prevent more single-use plastics washing into the ocean. Avoid plastic packaging when possible, and invest in a reusable water bottle, reusable drinking straws and reusable food-safe containers. Refusing is the first step to reducing pollution. When you can’t refuse, recycle! Learn what plastics we accept for recycling in our Recycling Guide.

It’s Time to Ditch Your Plastic Wrap — Here’s Why

plastic-wrap

There’s no doubt that plastic wrap — also known as Cling Wrap or Saran Wrap — is convenient. However, it’s super hard to reuse and impossible to recycle because it’s a complex plastic made with chemicals that are difficult to remove during the recycling process. Instead of trying to drop it off with other plastic bags, toss it in your trash.

But this also means that every time you use plastic wrap, you’re creating a piece of waste that will outlive us several times over. In fact, we don’t have proof that plastic will ever truly biodegrade. Rather, it will simply accumulate in our environment over time.

However, a bunch of plastic waste in a faraway future isn’t the only thing that’s concerning about plastic wrap. Plastic wrap may also be made from plastic #3, PVC, which contains materials that have been associated with serious health risks such as cancer and hormonal disorders.

So what can you use instead of plastic wrap? Reusable food containers, jars, beeswax wrap, silicone pouches and silicone stretch lids will all do the trick. It’s worth it to wash and reuse an item when it means you can keep harmful, non-recyclable materials out of the landfill.

If you can’t quite give up the plastic wrap habit, don’t let it touch food directly, or go into the microwave, where it is most likely to leach chemicals into your food.

Take This Challenge to Learn How to Waste Less Food! (Video)

It’s time to waste less and enjoy more! As Americans, we waste about 25% of the food we buy. That’s like buying four bags of food at the grocery store, then dropping one in the parking lot and leaving it there.

The Too Good to Waste Challenge is a month-long program that will help you:

  • Pinpoint why good food may be going to waste in your home
  • Make easy shifts in how you shop, store and prep food
  • Reduce waste
  • Save money

Watch this video to learn how to take the challenge and cut back on food waste at home. Sign up for the Too Good to Waste Challenge here.

Question How You Hydrate

plastic water bottle

One million single-use plastic bottles are sold every minute around the world. If this is shocking news to you, then it may be time to question how you hydrate.

Lonely Whale is on a mission to end the use of single-use plastic water bottles. Their new campaign, called Question How You Hydrate, is trying to raise awareness of our harmful, single-use plastic water bottle habit.

Plastic bottles only came into popular use in the 1990s, and now they are among the top five items found in beach cleanups around the world. They’re also likely to outlive us by hundreds of years. Considering a whopping 91% of all the plastic ever made hasn’t been recycled, that’s pretty scary.

When it comes to plastic bottles, it’s easy to choose sustainable alternatives for our drinking water. Reusable water bottles, reusable glasses, tap water, filtered water, hydration stations and aluminum canned water are all more eco-friendly choices. You can join the #HydrateLike campaign by using their hashtag to show others how you choose to hydrate. You can also pledge to stop using single-use plastic water bottles at hydratelike.org.

 

Question How You Hydrate follows Lonely Whale’s hugely successful campaign against plastic straws, #StopSucking. The #StopSucking campaign helped support Strawless in Seattle, and within four months, it had spurred a global movement. The viral campaign reached over 40 countries and territories. Now plastic straws are limited in California, and they have been banned in other U.S. cities and foreign countries, as well.

So how do you hydrate? Ending the use of single-use plastics starts with our individual choices and daily actions. Commit to choosing sustainable alternatives to plastic water bottles today.

Low-Water Lawn and Garden Ideas

According to the EPA, outdoor water use can account for as much as 60 percent of total household water use in arid regions. Do you want to replace your high-maintenance, water-thirsty lawn, but aren’t sure where to get started? You can use drought-tolerant plants or plant-free lawn options to save on water and lawn care.

Drought-Tolerant Plants

Create a lawn with drought-tolerant plants native to California. This low-water option will keep greenery in your yard while benefiting the environment, because plants help the soil absorb and hold more water while preventing erosion. They also reduce the heat your yard creates from reflecting sunlight. Native plant species in particular promote the health of local bee populations.

Want to try it? You can stick to grasses that look like your typical sod, such as the native California bent grass or Native Mow Free, a trademarked California grass. You can also search the California Native Plant Society’s map for native plants suited to your area.

Succulents and ornamental, drought-tolerant grasses are another way to add beauty without the extra water and maintenance. If you still want flowers, try planting native perennials that tend to be hardier and require less water, such as blanketflower, common yarrow, and a few varieties of sage.

Need more inspiration? Check out other Californians who have replaced their lawns in the State of California’s Reimagine Your Landscape. Worried about the extra work involved in replacing your grass? Don’t be! A study from the City of Santa Monica found that a native plant garden uses 83 percent less water and requires 68 percent less maintenance than a traditional lawn.

Plant-Free Lawn Options

Looking for a yard that’s entirely plant-free? Mulch is your greenest option, allowing water to absorb into the ground to replenish local aquifers. Its heating effect is neutral, and it also tends to be the most affordable.

Artificial turf, concrete, gravel and decomposed granite are other lawn alternatives that don’t require any water. However, they provide little to no benefit to local wildlife and contribute to the urban heat island effect, so it’s best to limit how widely you use them. Whereas gravel and decomposed granite both allow water to sink into the ground, most artificial turf and concrete products are not permeable, so they don’t allow water to replenish aquifers. However, by using a tiling pattern, you can create spaces in between these hard surfaces for water to seep through.

Do you already have turf grass and want to replace it? Visit SaveOurWater.com for information on how to get a rebate for replacing your turf grass with low-water or native plants.

More Water-Saving Tips

  • Collect rainwater in rain barrels and use it to irrigate your lawn and garden, cutting down on water bills and wasted runoff.
  • Create a dry creek bed made of smooth rocks. It will direct the flow of rainwater while creating a striking visual effect in your yard.
  • Terrace sloping areas of your yard or use small check dams to increase your yard’s water absorption.

To learn more about taking good care of our water supply, visit our Clean Water page.

4 Reasons to Kick That Plastic Water Bottle Habit

If you’re one of the millions of Americans still buying bottled water, don’t worry — now is the perfect time to kick that habit. Here are four reasons why:

1. In the U.S., bottled water is not subject to the same reporting standards as tap water. If you’re drinking bottled water because you think it’s safer, know that tap water has to be tested far more often than bottled water. Additionally, in most big cities, water facilities are required to filter and disinfect tap water, whereas bottled water is not required to be filtered or disinfected. If you’re not sure that your tap water is safe, you can look up your zip code in the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database to find the local water report.

2. According to MoneyCrashers, bottled water is 600 times more expensive than tap water, on average. However, if you’re buying a 16.9 oz bottle for $1.00, you’re paying over 3,000 times what you’d pay for tap. Considering that a quarter of all bottled water is tap water anyway, that’s quite a markup.

3. Bottled water isn’t always tastier than tap water. In blind taste tests, tap water tends to trounce half or more of its bottled water competition.

4. Globally, about one million plastic bottles are bought every minute. Most of these plastic bottles end up in landfills or the ocean. Researchers have estimated that about 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in our oceans every year, where it breaks down and enters the food chain and eventually our own bodies. Creating all those bottles also uses up a huge amount of energy, and produces toxic chemicals and greenhouse gases in the process.

Kicking your plastic water bottle habit won’t just be good for the planet, it’ll be good for you, too! It’s easy — just pick up a reusable bottle and fill it with tap.