How Do You Recycle in California? Here Are Tips for Reducing Waste

Thursday: Reducing and recycling can still go a long way. Plus, a surprising pandemic shortage.,


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ImageSolar panels in El Centro, Calif. The Biden administration will seek to accelerate a shift away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources of energy.
Solar panels in El Centro, Calif. The Biden administration will seek to accelerate a shift away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources of energy.Credit…Bing Guan/Reuters

Good morning.

Happy Earth Day! President Biden has set a new climate target for the U.S.: to cut the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. The target would require Americans to transform the way they drive, heat their homes and manufacture goods.

The announcement came this morning at a virtual global summit Mr. Biden is hosting, which is aimed at sending a message that the United States is rejoining international efforts to fight global warming after a four-year absence under the Trump administration.

“If America fails to lead the world on addressing the climate crisis, we won’t have much of a world left,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken warned on Monday.

California is already experiencing many of climate change’s most acute effects, and though what that looks like varies by region, the impacts have been felt statewide. (Select your hometown and birth year in this model from 2017 to see how much hotter your city is now, compared with when you were born.)

Here are some ways you can help battle climate change on this Earth Day — and every day.

Nearly every bottle or can you use can be recycled, and you don’t need to wash or crush them. You can use curbside bins, or visit any of the more than 1,500 recycling centers across the state that offer cash refunds, or California redemption value.

Limiting your use of plastic, disposable items like bottles and utensils can help reduce waste, as does using reusable bags. CalRecycle, an agency that joins the state’s recycling and waste management programs, also recommends composting, which can help “by reducing organic materials disposed in landfills where they form methane.” (Landfills are among the largest sources of man-made methane.)

In 2019, emissions from transportation accounted for about 29 percent of the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, making it the largest contributor.

Still, public transportation provides a low-emissions alternative to driving, and many transit agencies across the state are moving toward zero-emission buses.

With most of California in drought, conserving water has become a part of everyday life for many. American Rivers, a conservation organization, offers 10 ways you can save water at home, including managing how often you water your lawn, turning off your faucet when you brush your teeth and using a low-flow shower head.

This is hardly an exhaustive list of ways to make changes that can help the environment, but it’s a start. (And if you’re looking for a fun craft project to commemorate the day, try making this papier-mache globe — using recycled newspaper, of course.)

For more:

  • There’s a lot at stake when it comes to climate change, and the facts aren’t always easy to find. Use our guide to the science of climate change to find the answers to the most common questions.

  • This illustrated, interactive guide for kids shows how we got where we are today and what the future might hold. (Long story short: It depends on us.)

  • Understanding the climate crisis is tough. Here are five podcasts that can guide you through the problems, and the potential solutions.

  • Here are tips on how to make less trash, from the person who led the effort to make Chou Hall on the U.C. Berkeley campus the “greenest academic building in the country.”

(This article is part of the California Today newsletter. Sign up to get it delivered to your inbox.)


Phoenix Lake in Marin County, which imposed water-use restrictions that are set to take effect on May 1.Credit…Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced a drought emergency for Mendocino and Sonoma Counties, The Press Democrat reported. Mr. Newsom called the conditions in the region more “acute and dramatic” than in other parts of the state.

  • Austin Beutner, the Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent, said he would step down from the role at the end of his contract in June. “It’s been a long three years,” he said in an interview.


Vanessa Bryant spoke at a service celebrating the lives of Kobe and Gianna Bryant in Los Angeles last year.Credit…Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Boba at Teahut in San Francisco. Credit…Kelsey McClellan for The New York Times

A “crisis,” The San Francisco Chronicle called the situation a little more than a week ago. Our Bay Area-based colleague Kellen Browning described it as a panic.

“I was shocked,” a student at the University of California, Irvine, told him. “What am I going to do now?”

People “are freaking out,” The Los Angeles Times declared.

It’s all because the nation is headed for an unprecedented shortage of boba — and more specifically the tapioca used to make boba — amid what Kellen wrote is a “monthslong maritime pileup at ports in Los Angeles and San Francisco.”

The pandemic has affected global supply chains in all sorts of ways. In this case, surging, pent-up demand for stuff being shipped from overseas, like the tapioca from Asia, is colliding with a slowing of work at ports, related to the coronavirus.

Brian Tran, a co-owner of Honeybear Boba in San Francisco, told Kellen he had been searching desperately for more tapioca.

“A boba shop without boba is like a car dealership without cars to sell,” Mr. Tran said. “It’s like a steakhouse without steak.”

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Were you forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read every edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.

Priya Arora was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, and graduated from U.C. Irvine. They are currently a social media editor on the Audience team, and also write about South Asian pop culture for The Times.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

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