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.

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 recycling are still 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.

Recycle the Right Way Instead of the Wishful Way

The companies that buy recyclables only want clean materials. Often there can be many items that don’t belong in a shipment — think diapers in the plastics, or greasy pizza boxes in the clean paper. Contamination like this can ruin entire batches of material in the manufacturing process. So throwing the wrong thing in the recycling cart can result in an entire container getting rejected and shipped back across the ocean, or the state, just to end up in the landfill anyway.

Believe it or not, you play a huge role in making sure that recycling gets processed correctly and turned back into raw materials. It’s up to you to keep our recycling clean so that manufacturers will accept it and complete the cycle of turning your trash back into treasure.

Recycle the materials that belong in the recycling, and nothing else. When in doubt, throw it out! Or better yet, look it up in our searchable Recycling Guide. By recycling correctly, you’ll give our raw materials new value and new life.

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



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.

Pool Noodles Are Not Recyclable — Here’s What You Can Do With Them

pool noodle


Pool noodles are made of polyethylene foam, which is difficult to recycle in most places. When you’re done with your pool noodles, don’t try to put them in your recycling. Instead, cut them in half or fold them to fit in your garbage.

If your pool noodles are still usable, consider donating them [link] or giving them to a friend or neighbor.

Or, if you’re feeling crafty, you can save your pool noodles for home projects. There are a ton of ideas for repurposing pool noodles online. To get started, check out these cool pool noodle ideas from Home Hacks, or these kids’ toys and craft ideas from Inhabitots to get started.

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


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.

The “Attenborough Effect”: How One Man Is Changing the Way We Think About Plastic


The “Attenborough Effect” is shedding light on the progress we’re making — and can continue to make — when it comes to plastic use. The term is named after David Attenborough, an English broadcaster, writer and natural historian whose work educates people about plastic and other sustainability issues.

Attenborough’s Impact on Plastic Use

Attenborough is especially well-known for his most recent work narrating Blue Planet, Planet Earth and Our Planet, and he also narrated a nine-part Life series on BBC that was released between the late 1970s and early 90s. However, the films he has worked on have done more than entertain millions worldwide. According to a new report, online searches in the UK for “plastic recycling” have doubled since Blue Planet II was released two years ago, and 53 percent of people have reported using less plastic after watching the documentary.

The Attenborough Effect is now seen as a larger global movement to reduce plastic waste. New regulations have been initiated that claim to be influenced by Attenborough’s work. The European Union, which encompasses 28 countries, recently passed a single-use plastics ban, accrediting Attenborough’s Blue Planet series as part of its motivation. Even the Queen herself has banned certain single-use plastics from the Royal estates after working with Attenborough on a conservation documentary about wildlife.

The Importance of Awareness

It’s beginning to get harder to ignore just how serious the plastic issue really is. Between the fact that over 90% of plastic has never been recycled, and so many marine animals are dying from accidentally consuming plastics in the ocean, we all need to start rethinking our daily plastic use.

Although the idea of cutting out all plastics is daunting to most of us, limiting how much plastic we use can be done in small stages. Start with the little things: Take a look at the plastics in our Recycling Guide and see if there are any items you can use less of.

As we begin to notice how prevalent plastic is in our lives, we can start to reshape our habits one decision at a time. If there’s anything that can help us turn things around, being more aware is the first step.

The Truth You Need to Know About Your Sunscreen


Protecting your skin from the sun is important. Not only does limiting sun exposure help prevent heat-related health risks, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion, but it can also reduce your chances of developing skin cancer.

However, some sunscreens can do more harm than good, especially to our oceans. Here’s what you need to know.

Sunscreen Harms the Environment

As much as 14,000 tons of sunscreen is deposited in the world’s oceans each year. One of the biggest impacts it has on our environment is how it affects marine life and coral reefs. Some of the same chemicals used to prevent sunburn come off our skin when swimming in lakes, rivers and oceans or showering off afterward. Oxybenzone, for example, is a leading chemical that helps to absorb UV light but can also be absorbed by corals and lead to coral bleaching.

Coral bleaching is the whitening process that happens when coral reefs experience extreme changes in environmental conditions, such as temperature, light, or nutrients. As a result, they expel the algae that lives in their tissues, and that’s how they become white. If the conditions reverse, the corals can recover. If not, the algae do not return and the corals eventually die.

Another issue common with sunscreen chemicals is that they contain endocrine and genetic disrupters. In high enough concentrations, these may be damaging to the hormones, genetics and reproductive capabilities of fish populations.

Use Alternatives to Avoid Polluting the Water

Not all sunscreens are made equal.

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are two of the most widely talked about sunscreen chemicals that act as pollutants, and in 2021 they will be banned as sunscreen ingredients in the state of Hawaii. However, many other chemicals can still be included even in products that label themselves as “reef safe.”

While mineral sunscreens that use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are generally preferred, these ingredients are also harmful if they are nanoparticles, or “nano-sized.” Look for sunscreens labeled “non-nano,” or use the Consumer Products Inventory to find out if your sunscreen contains nanoparticles.

Haereticus Environmental Lab maintains a complete list of ingredients to avoid in your sunscreen. A few of the best-rated sunscreen brands without these toxic chemicals include Thinksport, All Good, Suntegrity, Badger and Raw Elements.

In addition to using eco-friendly sunscreens, you can also limit your sun exposure to begin with so that you don’t have to wear as much sunscreen. Use shade structures to get out of direct sunlight, and wear hats and lightweight clothing with UV protection.