How to Fix a Zipper (Video)

From stuck zippers to zippers that just won’t stay zipped, we’ve all had our share of zipper troubles. Thankfully, most zipper problems are a quick fix! Avoid replacing a faulty zipper using these easy zipper hacks.

Food Scraps Don’t Belong in the Recycling

dirty food containers

Is your jar half-full of salsa? Does your can still have food in it? Don’t toss them in the recycling! Food scraps contaminate the recycling process.

When food scraps get into your recycling, they make recyclables less clean and less valuable. Food can get stuck in sorting equipment, forcing workers to stop the sorting line to clean it up. Food can also seep into paper products, making the fibers too weak to be recycled — liquids, sticky residue and leftover grease, especially.

Long story short: A batch of food-contaminated recycling can quickly end up in the landfill.

What can you do? Scrape out and rinse any containers that once held food. If it’s something really sticky or oily, such as nut butter, honey or mayonnaise, go ahead and give the container a quick scrub.

Afterwards, if a container is really wet, try to let it dry before tossing it in with other recyclables. That way, any paper that’s being recycled will stay dry, too.

Torn Jeans? Here’s an Easy Way to Fix Them (Video)

Wear your favorite jeans for long enough and eventually they’ll tear. Better than throwing them away and buying a new favorite, you can fix them!

With an inside patch for stability and some jean-colored thread, your favorite denim will be back in action. Watch this video to see how:

You can also start fixing your tear by applying an iron-on patch, as this second video demonstrates:

Jeans can last a long time, so fixing a tear can give them a much longer life. And not only will it keep them out of the landfill, it will also save you money.

What Happens When You Recycle the Wrong Things (Video)


Some recycling programs have over 25% contamination — meaning over a quarter of what we throw in our recycling carts doesn’t belong there.

Contamination is a big problem because:

  • It gets tangled up in machinery that was designed to handle different items, bringing the sorting process to a standstill.
  • It endangers the workers who have to climb into the machinery and fix it when it stops running.
  • It slows down the sorting process, which increases costs.
  • It means that the materials that come out of recycling facilities are less useful for making new products.

Watch this video to see what really happens when people toss things in their recycling that don’t belong:

You can help solve the problem of contamination! Check out our Quick Guide to What Goes in the Bins for an overview of what belongs in your recycling, and look up any other items you have questions about in our Recycling Guide.

How to Dispose of Lunchables


Lunchables are easy to pack for kids when you’re short on time, but how do you dispose of the packaging when you’re done?

The cardboard sleeve goes in the recycling. The plastic wrap and plastic container go in the trash. They are not recyclable.

If you want to cut back on the waste, try making your own “Lunchables” at home. You’ll save money, too. Check out the Squawkfox homemade lunch experiment to learn more.

Top 10 Most Littered Items


This year’s World Clean-Up Day will be held on September 21. Each year for the clean-up, volunteers from around the world pick up litter in their communities. In conjunction with the U.S. National Clean-Up Day and the International Coastal Clean-Up, millions of people from 150 countries unite through small local actions against illegal waste.

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

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

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

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

To join this year’s World Clean-Up Day, find a clean-up group near you.

Healthy Soils Program: Grant Application Information for Ranchers

California rangeland

The Healthy Soils Program is an application-based program that funds projects that build resilient soils and improve rangeland condition.

There are two grant categories available:

  • The Incentives Program funds the implementation of practices on rangeland and pasture. Up to $75,000 max grant award.
  • The Demonstration Program funds practices and education to showcase practices to other ranchers (w and w/o research). Up to $250,000 max grant award.

The next round of funding opens for applications in fall 2019. Learn more about the Healthy Soils Program on the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s website.

How to Host a Clothing Swap (Video)


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.

The NOAA Marine Debris Program Wants Your Ideas!

plastic underwater

The NOAA Marine Debris Program is looking ahead to the next five years and wants to know what you think!

In October 2015, the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) released a five-year strategic plan to guide their efforts through 2020. The plan’s five overarching goals are coordination, emergency response and preparedness, removal, prevention, and research and assessment. As the NOAA enters into the final year of their current plan, they are reflecting on the goals they were able to accomplish and identifying their priorities moving forward.

You can access the NOAA’s current strategic plan on their website and comments will be accepted through this Friday, August 16, 2019. To provide comments via email, please send your thoughts to, and include your comments in the body of the email or as attachments. Comments may also be provided by mail to the following address:

NOAA Marine Debris Program
1305 East West Highway
SSMC4, Rm 10204
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Learn more about providing feedback on the Marine Debris Program here.

Green BBQ Cheat Sheet


Planning a BBQ or picnic for the end of summer? Check out this cheat sheet for seven easy ways to green your event.

1. Put dirty items and liquids in the trash. Don’t put greasy items or anything containing liquids or food residue in the recycling. Help your guests by putting clear signs on your trash and recycling containers. For example, “Trash: Plates and Utensils” and “Recycling: Empty Bottles & Cans.”

2. Put clean glass bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard and containers made from plastics #1 and #2 in the recycling. At a party, beverage containers are the most common recyclable, and you can even redeem them for 5-10 cents each at a beverage container recycling center. Not sure if something is recyclable? Look it up in our Recycling Guide.

3. Put food waste in your green bin. If it can’t be saved for later, toss it in the compost. Meat, bones, dairy, fruits, veggies and grains can all go in the compost. Remember: Liquids, oils, grease and any non-food items are not allowed in the compost.

4. Share leftovers to prevent food waste. In your invitation, ask your guests to bring a food storage container so that they can bring home leftovers.

5. Plan your portions. Prevent food waste by tallying up how many guests you’re expecting, how long the event will be, and plan food portions accordingly. Here are some pointers:

  • Adults tend to eat one pound of food per meal, and children, half a pound.
  • If you’re serving only appetizers, folks will eat about 4-6 in their first hour, and 2-3 per hour after that.
  • If you’re serving a full meal, plan about 6-8 oz of meat per adult (a store-bought hamburger tends to run around 6 oz) in addition to side dishes.
  • A serving of pasta salad is about one cup per person. For baked beans, half a cup.
  • For light desserts like watermelon or cookies, plan two small servings per person, or 4 oz of a cake or pie.
  • For beverages, estimate two per person for the first hour, and one per hour after that.

6. Serve finger food. To cut down on plates, serve foods that don’t need them. A lot of classic summer fare is handheld, including hot dogs, sandwiches, skewers, corn on the cob, fresh vegetables and watermelon.

7. Skip disposables. Choose reusable plates, cups, utensils and napkins over disposable ones.