Sustainable Blog

Notes from the Road: ECO:nomics

From switchgrass to fuel cells, top business leaders discuss the intersection of business and the environment

Toyota will be launching a fuel cell vehicle in California in 2015

Earlier this month, I attended The Wall Street Journal’s ECO:comics conference where top business and environmental leaders, policy makers and entrepreneurs met to discuss the intersection of business and the environment. This wasn’t a sudden embrace of the green movement by the preeminent business newspaper in the U.S. — it was a very realistic look at both the opportunities and threats that these companies face from environmental issues. Here’s a peek at what these leaders are thinking about food and fuel issues.

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Spring into Better Gas Mileage

Boost your MPGs with easy spring car maintenance tips

spring car maintenance

Finally, spring. Daffodils! Budding trees! Short sleeves! Rising gas prices! Wait, what was that last one?

In case you hadn’t noticed, the average price of gas jumped from $3.49 to $3.62 in the last month, and prices are expected to hover around $3.57 a gallon throughout the summer, just one penny below last year’s average.

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Nick Tiller Calls for Gas Conservation on CNBC

“The oil market right now is as dicey as I’ve seen it in my career.”

Sustainable America Founder Nick Tiller on CNBC

Part of our mission is to educate the public about food and fuel issues, and our founder, Nick Tiller, had a great opportunity to do just that recently. He was a guest on CNBC’s mid-day show Fast Money: Halftime Report, where he explained how his background as a financial analyst and portfolio manager in the energy and food sectors led him to start a nonprofit organization.

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Growing a Generation of More Informed Eaters, Through Gardening

School gardens get kids excited about real food and healthy eating

My kids harvesting in the garden

As a high school health and PE teacher for the past 16 years, Stephanie Peckham has heard a lot of interesting stories and questions from her students. Questions run the gamut, with curious and not-yet-worldly students seeking answers about alcohol, drugs and cigarettes, to awkward birds and bees questions. But with the surge in childhood obesity and diabetes, Stephanie has found herself in the figurative epicenter of a battle to educate this generation of young Americans about the critical importance of eating healthy.

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The ‘Omega Garden’ Takes Hydroponics for a Spin

Growing plants in a rotating drum equals more yield with less water and space.

The Omega Garden provides 6 square feet of growing space yet takes up only 2 X 3.5 feet of space.

This month, Sustainable America will welcome the arrival of its new Omega Garden, an innovative rotary hydroponic system, which will serve as one of three indoor, urban agriculture demonstration units showcased in our new Stamford office. Its innovative design gets up to 3.5 times more in harvest per plant, without chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. Now that’s impressive.

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Thinking Beyond ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’

With guidance from nature, we can build a world without waste

decomposing leaves

As the field of environmental sustainability matures, so does its core concepts, goals and operating principals. For example, “reduce, reuse, recycle” has served as a guiding principles of sustainability work over the last several decades. While the three Rs remain an important theme, the conversation is beginning to shift. The very concept of “waste” is being called into question.

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The Drought In California

is about to hit you right in the grocery bill

Photo Credit: Muffet via Compfight cc

California is the biggest U.S. producer of agricultural products. It’s also in its third year of drought, with 95% of the state in moderate to exceptional drought conditions. Food prices have already risen as a result, but there are likely even higher prices to come. Oh, and the rivers are so dry salmon are being driven to the sea in tanker trucks.

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“Why I Quit Oil”

Founder Nick Tiller on why he left trading to start Sustainable America

Photo Credit: bloomgal via Compfight cc

After 12 years of profiting from the energy and agriculture markets, I resigned my position as a hedge fund portfolio manager last year. Now, as the founder of Sustainable America, I devote a material portion of my time and net worth to helping make our nation’s food and fuel systems more resilient. Here’s why

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“We Survived for 6 Months on Discarded Food”

A new documentary explores the food waste issue from farm to fridge

Just Eat It director Grant Baldwin looks into a swimming pool-sized dumpster filled with discarded hummus

What happens when two filmmakers challenge themselves to survive for six months only on discarded food? You get Just Eat It, a new documentary that explores the food waste issue from the farm all the way to a Vancouver fridge. Here, the filmmakers share some of the shocking things they learned and how they salvaged $200,000 worth of food.

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Peanuts and Cracker Jacks and…Compost?

Sports venues get a new game plan for game-day food waste

The Seattle Mariners recycled or composted over 90% of all waste generated at Safeco Field in 2013. Image:

Composting may not be the first thing that comes to you mind when you think about eating at a ball game, but the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is working to change that. This week, the environmental group has published the Guide to Composting at Sports Venues, a free resource for stadiums that want to reduce and manage their food waste more effectively.

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Compost Parks: A New Vision for Food Waste

A Q&A with the architects who want to compost New York's food waste on the waterways

Proposed compost parks in New York City

A big problem like food waste in America is going to take big ideas to tackle, and that’s why we like the visionary new plan for dealing with New York City’s organic waste floated by a young architecture firm earlier this month. Present Architecture proposed building a network of Green Loops on the waterways surrounding the city that would have a dual purpose: compost organic waste and provide new park space.

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3 Steps to Recycling More at Work

Tips for creating a zero-waste workplace

3 Steps to Recycling More at Work

Part of our work at Sustainable America includes helping events move toward zero waste. Now that we have moved into our new headquarters, we are working to bring this effort home. Not surprisingly, workplace recycling requires care and planning much like at events. The process is ongoing, but we would like to share what we’ve experience so far and a few solutions that we’ve found helpful.

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5 Ways to Green Your K-Cup

Convenient coffee that doesn't inconvenience the planet?

Rack of Keurig K-Cups

While the convenience and variety afforded by single-serve coffee systems is celebrated by many, the appliance’s darker side—the mountains of unrecyclable waste—is equally abhorred by those concerned about the impacts of on-demand coffee. Fortunately, more sustainable alternatives have been popping up on the market that allow you to keep using your single-serve system (and enjoying that hot cup of coffee when you want it) while reducing plastic waste and capturing the used coffee grounds for compost.

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Reviving Neighborhoods with Aquaponics

Indoor growing methods have the potential to improve local food systems and neglected urban areas at the same time


At Sustainable America, we are focused on ways to double or triple the amount of local food produced on urban farms and in what are known as “controlled environment agriculture” efforts, which include hydroponics, aquaponics and, more recently, aeroponics. We see lots of opportunities to develop the market for CEA systems in the thousands of abandoned factory buildings, warehouses, shopping malls and school buildings across the country.

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FC Gives — And Beyond

Thanks to our supporters for helping us reach our goal!


The Big Day has finally come…and gone! After about a month of promotion, promise and preparation, Fairfield County Giving Day is over. The results were impressive, and we are very grateful for the support we received.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.