Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

How to live a sustainable lifestyle

Lucette Moramarco

Associate Editor

I Love A Clean San Diego Community Outreach Assistant Bella Sullins gave a presentation on taking care of the environment at Rainbow Valley Grange, Sept. 9.

In 2022, ILACSD utilized 16,678 volunteers, educated 27,010 youth and adults, removed 182,427 pounds of trash, handled 40,273 recycling inquiries and diverted 42,550 items from landfills.

Sullin said that the average resident produces 5.8 pounds of waste per day, over 2,117 pounds per year. She explained that all that waste goes to three landfills - Miramar, Otay and Sycamore. Miramar is the largest at 1,400 acres and it is estimated to fill to capacity by 2030. "We don't want to build anymore landfills," she said.

According to Sullins, 75% of the waste in landfills could be recovered through reusing, recycling and composting. As for litter, some of it comes from the wind and animals pulling it out of trash cans, blown down into the storm drain. She pointed out that there are no filters in the storm drain system, so litter ends up in rivers which take it to the ocean.

Sullins said that 80% of marine pollution comes from inland sources.Once in the ocean, litter is caught in the currents then gets stuck in gyres (giant whirlpools) forming patches of garbage floating just below the surface.

The Western Garbage Patch in the North Pacific is twice the size of Texas, full of microplastics. The sun breaks down these plastics into smaller and smaller pieces, a process known as photodegradation, until the water looks like plastic soup which fish eat. Another common waste item is fishing nets which negatively affect sea turtles and birds.

As for affecting humans, trash on beaches means lower quality of recreation; pollution also affects the quality of the ocean's plant and animal life used in medicines and products like carrageenan (from seaweed) which is used as a thickening stabilizer in cottage cheese, chocolate milk and toothpaste.

Sullin also said that the most fundamental thing produced by the ocean is oxygen, "The ocean produces more oxygen than all the forests combined." That is another reason why it is important to reduce pollution.

According to ILACSD, "zero waste is a principle that calls for handling discarded materials as commodities." The goal is to divert 75% of waste by 2030.

To achieve a zero waste lifestyle, residents need to reduce the amount of trash they produce by refusing, reusing, repurposing, repairing, donating and recycling items to keep them out of landfills. She suggested people refuse to use plastic, use reusable cups and bottles, reuse containers and refill jars.

ILACSD holds clothing swaps to divert clothes from ending up in landfills; residents can host a clothing swap in their area. For more information, call 877-R1-Earth (877-713-2784).

She explained that items collected for recycling are taken to a recycling center, separated, baled and sold at market. To help make that system work, it helps if residents recycle the right way, following these steps:

1. Empty - No food residue left

2. Dry - No liquids remaining

3. Loose - Recyclables must be placed in the bin loose, not bagged

If any item is contaminated by food or liquid, it is not recyclable. Soft plastics, like bread bags, cannot be recycled and will clog the machinery if they are put in with recyclables.

Paper, cardboard, cartons and newspapers are recyclable, but not tissues or napkins. Glass is recyclable but no drinking glasses, windows, ceramics or any object used in a kitchen as they have an additive to make them heat resistant. Metal is recyclable but not paint cans unless they are dry.

Tanglers like textiles and hoses; organic waste; and household hazardous waste such as batteries, fluorescent bulbs, and electronics do not belong in the blue bin.

Organic waste includes shrubs, tree trimmings, leaves, grass, food scraps, and food-soiled paper which is compostable but not recyclable. Pizza boxes with food on them are compostable too. Sullin pointed out that there are some bags that are marketed as compostable, but they are not accepted at composting facilities.

Miramar Greenery recycles over 100,000 tons of green waste per year; it is at the entrance of Miramar Landfill, 5180 Convoy St, San Diego, 92111.

For more information on backyard composting, classes and a compost bin voucher program, visit

To find out where to take hazardous waste, go to

To live a more sustainable life, people can adjust their habits and explore plastic-free options including making their own toothpaste, laundry detergent and soap. Besides using reusable water bottles, they can use beeswax wraps which help keep food fresher and can be used for a whole year.

Making one's own salt and vinegar cleaning spray also cuts down on the use of plastic bottles; using old rags/clothing for cleaning is a good way to reuse them.

Sullin also gave ideas on how to prevent food waste: put leftovers in the freezer, buy in bulk and plan for what food is needed for a week at a time. Throwing food away is throwing money away. She encouraged everyone to get involved in clean up events, sponsor an event or workshop and/or visit

There will be a site cleanup in Rainbow, Saturday, Sept. 23, 9 a.m. to noon, at Rainbow County Park as part of the Coastal Cleanup Day. Another local cleanup will be done that day, the Old River Road Street Sweep in Bonsall. Registrations for the day are open at


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