How to Repair a Tear in Leather or Faux Leather

leather bag

Oh no! You’ve got a tear in your favorite leather jacket — or maybe it’s your leather bag. Good news, you might be able to repair it. Watch this quick instructional video to find out how to repair small tears in leather or faux leather.

Lessons From ‘Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale’

Thrift Store

In his new book ‘Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale,’ author Adam Minter explores the strange (and big!) world of donated items. From thrift stores in Arizona to used good markets in Ghana, he uncovers the various places where everything we donate ends up.

By following these items across the globe, Minter is taken aback by the sheer volume of goods Americans are buying new, using briefly, and then donating to thrift stores. While donating unwanted goods is an eco-friendly move, buying new, inexpensive, non-durable products is not.

In the spirit of Minter’s book, here are a few ways you can reduce your impact by changing up your purchasing habits.

Want vs. Need

As with nearly everything eco-friendly, less is more. Before you purchase a product, consider if you actually need it or just want it. Often the instant gratification of a purchase wears off quickly, leaving you with less money and more unwanted stuff.

Buy Used

Used products do:

  • Save you money
  • Support the local economy

Used products don’t:

  • Require new resources
  • Generate additional pollution
  • Need energy to be created
  • Have additional packaging

Together, these factors make buying used substantially more eco-friendly than buying new. So the next time you need to buy something, consider checking your local thrift store or online marketplace to see if you can find what you need secondhand.

Buy Durable

Can’t find what you’re looking for secondhand? Consider purchasing a durable, well-made product that will last. Oftentimes, buying a slightly more expensive product that functions better and lasts longer is less expensive — and more eco-friendly — in the long run.

Unwanted Sports Equipment? Sell or Donate It!

soccer ball

Do you have unwanted sports equipment taking up precious space in your closet or garage? Here are a few ways you can clear out some space and get your gear to someone who will get it back out on the field!

Don’t Recycle

While you may be tempted to try to recycle your used equipment, you shouldn’t. Sports equipment is almost always made out of mixed materials, making it impossible to recycle. In addition, putting these items in the recycling can be damaging to equipment and dangerous for workers at recycling facilities. Instead, try selling or donating used sports equipment that’s still in usable condition. Broken equipment that can’t be reused goes into the garbage. One notable exception is sports clothing, which can be recycled through textile recycling programs if it is in too poor of a condition to sell or donate.

Sell It

Sports equipment is often quite expensive, which creates a large, active secondhand market. Follow these steps to easily sell your gear:

  1. Determine a fair price. This can be done by researching online or checking out similar items in a used gear shop.
  2. Choose a marketplace. Options include websites such as Craigslist, eBay, Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace, used gear shops such as Play It Again Sports, or local consignment shops and swap meets.

Donate It

Donating your used sports equipment can be a fulfilling (and super easy!) way to get rid of your old gear. There are many options for donating items, from our local thrift stores to national mail-in programs like Pitch In For Baseball & Softball and Level the Playing Field. Donating your equipment is an eco-friendly option that can empower others to get into sports that might otherwise be inaccessible to them.

Buy Used

Looking to go even further? The next time you need sporting equipment, use the resources mentioned above to find gear secondhand. Save a few dollars and help the environment at the same time. It’s a win-win!

Ask the Experts: How to Recycle Peanut Butter Jars — A Sticky Subject

Peanut Butter Jar
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Q: How do I recycle my peanut butter jars?
—Rita

A: We’ve all been there. You’ve just spread the last scoop of peanut butter on your PB&J sandwich only to be confronted with a challenge: a recyclable container that is too dirty to recycle. Don’t stress — we’ve got you covered. Read over these three simple steps to get that sticky jar recycle-ready.

1. Scrape

Using a spatula or other utensil, remove as much peanut butter from the jar as possible. Alternatively, if you have a dog, consider letting them lick the leftover peanut butter out of the jar in lieu of scraping it out.

2. Soak & Shake

Fill the jar one-third of the way full with warm water and a drop of soap, then replace the cap and let it soak for five minutes. Shake vigorously for twenty seconds, drain and rinse. At this point, only a small amount of oily residue will be left in the jar.

3. Dry

Set the jar upside down in a drying rack or on the edge of the sink to drip dry. Once the jar is dry, replace the cap and it is ready to recycle. If your peanut butter jar is made of glass, recycle the lid separately from the jar.

Not a peanut butter person? These steps will also work for other nut and seed butter jars, as well as most other hard-to-clean jars.

Plastic Utensils Go in the Trash

plastic utensils

Don’t toss that plastic fork, spoon or knife into your recycling. Plastic utensils — with or without the recycling symbol — go in the garbage. Here’s why they can’t be recycled and how you can avoid using them.

Plastic utensils aren’t recyclable for two main reasons. The first reason is their small, skinny shape. When plastic utensils end up at the recycling facility, they tend to either fall through or get stuck in the machinery that sorts objects into groups of the same material. Most machinery can’t handle items smaller than 2-3 inches around, and utensils are so skinny that they fall through the equipment. Second, plastic utensils vary in plastic type. They’re commonly made of plastic #1, plastic #5, plastic #6, or bioplastic. Because they are identical in shape and size, the different types of plastic make them very difficult to sort correctly.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to the plastic utensil problem: reusable utensils! That fork or spoon that doesn’t quite match any of the others in your silverware set is the perfect candidate for a zero waste take-out kit. Keep forgetting to bring your utensils? Consider keeping a set in your purse, backpack or car. Every time you use your reusable utensils, you’ll know you’ve kept a plastic fork or spoon out of the landfill!

Do you still have some plastic utensils in your silverware drawer or the glovebox of your car? Rinse and reuse them until they break, then dispose of them in the garbage.

California’s Plastic Bag Recycling Law

AB 2449, passed in 2006, required all grocery stores and other large retailers to accept plastic carryout bags (a.k.a. film plastic) for recycling. This law has expired. Moving forward, all plastic bags and other plastic film items should now go in the garbage.

Now that California has passed a statewide single-use plastic bag ban, it is easy to find alternatives to plastic carryout bags. Keeping a few reusable shopping bags around — and even some reusable produce bags — can help you avoid most disposable plastic bags.

Still have some plastic bags lying around? Use them to line small household trash bins or to pick up animal waste.

Old Valentine’s Flowers Go in the Green Waste

flowers

Ready to toss your Valentine’s Day flowers? Don’t throw them away! Toss them in with your Green Waste instead.

When you put flowers and other yard waste in your Green Waste, they’re composted to create healthy new soil. Healthy soil plays a lot of important roles in our environment, including absorbing and filtering water, as well as transferring nutrients to new plant life.

Want to Keep Your Flowers Longer?

Take good care of the stems. First, give your flowers some type of sugar for nutrition. Put a little bit of sugar in the vase water, whether it’s the plant food packet that came with your flowers, a little granulated sugar from your cupboard, or some honey or maple syrup. Any amount between one teaspoon and two tablespoons will do. Second, change the water every other day, or anytime it begins to look cloudy, and trim the ends of the stems at the same time so they can continue to absorb the water and nutrients.

Dry or press your blooms. Keep the memory of a special day alive by preserving your bouquet. To dry flowers naturally, hang them upside down in a dark, dry spot, such as an attic or closet. You can also dry flowers by pressing them. Place the blooms between heavy books, such as dictionaries or encyclopedias, with a paper or cardboard lining to absorb moisture. Check the flowers’ progress once a week, and change the liner each time. Both drying and pressing flowers takes roughly 2-4 weeks. Find more tips for creating beautiful dried flowers — without using chemicals or creating extra waste — from Wellness Mama.

Buy potted flowers instead. Keep the Valentine’s Day vibe strong all year with a live plant. With proper care, not only can it brighten your home — and mood — for years, it can even clean the air for you. After all, what’s more romantic than watching your love grow?

National Battery Day: Did You Know It’s Dangerous to Throw Batteries Away?

batteries

Batteries: A standardized and portable source of power that can bring electricity anywhere you want to go. From starting your car in the morning to powering a flashlight during an unexpected power outage, their convenience is undeniable. However, batteries can also be very dangerous if not disposed of properly. Here is what you need to know.

Batteries, especially the lithium-ion rechargeable type that come in most portable electronics, pose a very serious fire risk when disposed of improperly. When batteries end up at a trash or recycling facility they often get punctured or crushed, which can damage the separation between the cathode and anode, causing them to catch fire or explode. These fires can have devastating consequences, such as the fire at San Mateo’s Materials Recovery Facility in 2016, which burned the entire plant to the ground. Batteries — and devices that contain them — need to be disposed of as e-waste or hazardous waste so they can be carefully handled to prevent these fires.

In addition to the fire danger, batteries can also contain toxic chemicals, including lithium, cadmium, sulfuric acid and lead. If disposed of improperly, these toxic chemicals can leach into the soil and contaminate the groundwater.

For these reasons, it is illegal to put batteries in the garbage or mix them in with the rest of your recycling. Luckily, recycling batteries is easy. Follow these links to our Recycling Guide to find out how to easily dispose of each type of battery.

When storing used batteries prior to recycling, please use caution to keep batteries from short-circuiting, overheating or sparking.

You can either:

  • Place each battery in a separate clear plastic bag, or;
  • Use clear packing tape, electrical tape or duct tape to tape the ends of the batteries to prevent battery ends from touching one another or striking against metal surfaces, then place the batteries in a clear plastic bag.

Avoid storing batteries in a metal container.

Looking to save some money? Try using rechargeable batteries in place of single-use alkaline batteries. Rechargeable batteries will work in almost all the same applications, provide similar battery life, and can be recharged hundreds of times — making them far more cost-effective and eco-friendly than single-use batteries. Just make sure to use single-use batteries for emergency devices such as smoke detectors.

Happy National Battery Day!

NEW Polystyrene Ban in SLO County Begins April 9, 2020

A new ordinance affecting ALL San Luis Obispo County businesses and non-profits using polystyrene begins April 9, 2020. The ordinance requires food and beverage purveyors, stores, businesses and non-profits to stop using and/or selling plastic resin code #6 — also known as polystyrene or EPS.

What Is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is plastic #6, usually marked by a resin code (the chasing arrows symbol) with a #6 inside. Items made from polystyrene include packing peanuts, egg cartons, meat trays, cups, clamshells, bowls, plates, utensils, trays, wrappers, platters, condiment containers, cartons, drinkware, ice chests, shipping boxes, straws, non-encapsulated marine devices and other packaging materials.

Who Does the Ordinance Apply To?

The ordinance applies to food and beverage providers, catering companies, nonprofits, stores and businesses using and/or selling resin code #6 polystyrene. A food and beverage provider means any vendor located or providing food or beverages within San Luis Obispo County and includes — without limitation — any store, shop, sales outlet, restaurant, grocery store, supermarket, delicatessen, food/catering truck or vehicle, including vendors located outside of the County when delivering prepared food or beverages inside SLO County. Notify your suppliers!

Why Is SLO County Implementing This Ordinance?

Since resin code #6 — polystyrene or EPS polystyrene — is not biodegradable when it becomes trash (meaning it is not able to be broken down or consumed by living organisms such as bacteria or fungi), products made from these materials can’t decay naturally, so they will remain as-is. Oftentimes, these materials break down into smaller pieces and fragments that pollute our land and waterways. A clean community is good for tourism, and we all share a common vision to protect San Luis Obispo’s economic future.

Several of our cities already have EPS bans in place, including Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, Pismo Beach, Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. This ordinance will extend this ban to the entire County, where we join a growing number of cities around the world in addressing the pollution in our communities, oceans and streams. Packaging and products that are first reusable, recyclable, and/or biodegradable are the most responsible choices for San Luis Obispo County’s tourist economy, its citizenry and its environment. When packaging and products are reusable or recyclable, we transition away from the linear take-make-dispose model of consumption, to one that spares natural resources as less energy is used to produce new products.

What Products Should I Be Using Instead?

Instead of polystyrene, use products that are reusable, recyclable or biodegradable, such as aluminum or polypropylene. For more information about acceptable alternatives and where they are available for purchase, visit IWMA.com/polyreplacements.

How Will This Ordinance Be Implemented?

Find out more details about implementation and compliance in our toolkit. Wish to file for an exemption? Visit IWMA.com/polyexemptions.

Questions?

Find out more at IWMA.com/poly.

What to Do With All That Meal Kit Packaging

So it’s 2020 and you’ve resolved to make this the year you start cooking more and eating better. You’ve signed up for your first meal kit and made some tasty dishes, but now you’re wondering what to do with all that packaging. Don’t worry — we’ve got you covered with this quick guide on how to properly dispose of all your meal kit packaging.


Cardboard Box

Paper and Cardboard

The cardboard box your meals are shipped in, cardboard dividers, paper trays and recipe cards are all made of paper. These pieces of your meal kit can be placed in the recycling. However, if these items become wet or food-soiled on their way to your house or while you’re cooking, they should be tossed in the trash.


Ice Pack

Ice Packs

These guys do a great job of keeping your food from spoiling while it’s shipped to your home, but they’re also a hard-to-recycle item. Toss your ice pack in the garbage.

Or, better yet, reuse your ice pack! Stick the ice pack back in your freezer, and then toss it in a cooler to chill drinks or food whenever you’re camping, tailgating or hosting. That way you won’t have to buy as many bags of ice at the store.


Plastic Bag

Plastic Bags

Often containing vegetables, spices and sauces, these bags get tossed in the garbage. You can also reuse them for tasks such as organizing and storing beads, jewelry or other small items.


Plastic Ramekin

Plastic Clamshells, Jars and Bottles

This is where things can get a bit tricky. Luckily, most, if not all, the plastic containers in your meal kit will be clearly labeled with a plastic resin number to help you identify the type of plastic. From there you can use our Recycling Guide to find out how you should dispose of each type of plastic. Keep in mind, items smaller than the lid on a standard peanut butter jar are too small to recycle and must be put in the trash. Have some plastic that’s not recyclable? Upcycle it! Check out this video by Purple Carrot for some fun ideas.


Compost Bowl

Food Scraps

Cooking at home creates food scraps. Potato peels, scallion ends and other food scraps can be tossed in with your green waste.

Find something in your meal kit that isn’t mentioned here? Look it up in our handy Recycling Guide.


Food for Thought

Feel like you’re finally getting the hang of cooking at home? Save those recipe cards, or find some new recipes on the web, and try cooking without the meal kit. Plan out your meals ahead of time to minimize food waste and remember to bring your reusable bags and produce bags to the store. Bon appétit!