Sustainable America Blog

How to Feed 350 Food Waste Experts

A rescued-food breakfast at the Save Food for People Conference

In late June, nearly 350 entrepreneurs, practitioners, policymakers, and activists from across the country gathered at Harvard Law School for the Reduce and Recover: Save Food for People Conference to further dialogue on reaching a national food waste reduction goal.

True to its name, the conference wanted to turn the conversation into action by “eating what we preach,” and see what it would take to prepare some of the conference meals with food that would otherwise go to waste.

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A Hyperlocal Solution to Food Waste

Impact Bioenergy's HORSE AD25 converts food waste to energy and fertilizer

Schools, campuses, food and beverage producers, and food banks all produce thousands of pounds of food waste each year, and typically have to pay to have the waste hauled to a central location such as a landfill. In landfills, organic matter breaks down and produces methane, a potent greenhouse gas that, if captured, can be a valuable source of energy. Enter Impact Bioenergy: the company’s small anaerobic digester systems, or microdigesters, convert food waste and other organic matter like paper and yard clippings into fertilizer and energy in the form of electricity, heat, and even transportation fuels.

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Keeping It Cool

Old refrigerator

Recently, I went to my mother-in-law’s house for a family celebration. As usual, I was called upon to bring a second dining table up from the basement to fit 14 of us. In the basement, as always, the surplus food and drink for the big meal was stored in a second refrigerator that she keeps down there.

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Salvaged Smoothies ‘Pedaled’ at Feeding the 5000 NYC

Salvaged berries became delicious smoothies at Feeding the 5K NYC.

How much salvaged fruit does it take to make smoothies for 5,000 people? We found out in May when we participated in Feeding the 5,000 NYC, an event to raise awareness about food waste.

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Winning the Race to End Food Waste

Sustainable America has rescued 6380 meals for food insecure Virginians

In April, we returned to the Richmond International Raceway for a third time for a weekend of food waste diversion and recovery at the Toyota Owners 400, a NASCAR race. Coordinating food recovery at an event this size is a challenging task, but we learned lessons from two previous races in 2015 that have increased our efficiency — and the amount of food we were able to divert. The results demonstrate the important opportunity that large event venues have to reduce their environmental footprint and help those in the need in their communities.

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Mini Doc: Jack Johnson’s Sustainable America

Jack Johnson digs through worms as part of a compost lesson at Lanikai Elementary School in Hawaii.

When musician and environmental activist Jack Johnson invited us to join him for an elementary school compost lesson (and schoolyard concert) in Hawaii, we grabbed a film crew. Watch our new mini documentary to learn more about one of the music industry’s greenest musicians and how the island of Oahu deals with its food waste.

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Sustainable America Joins 1% for the Planet

One Percent for the Planet logo

Sustainable America is thrilled to join the growing network of businesses and nonprofit partners aligning through the 1% for the Planet movement to protect and improve our world. Just like the team at 1%, we passionately believe in the power of connections and the strength of a bond between businesses and mission-driven organizations.

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Accelerating to a Fuel-Efficient Future

BMW Concept X5 eDrive

There have been two competing car narratives happening recently. A few weeks ago, the New York Times reported on how improvements in overall fuel economy have stalled, not surprisingly since the price of gasoline has dropped to $2 per gallon. But the options for drivers who want to buy electric vehicles are better than ever.

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Food Rescue: Now There’s a Map for That

Food Rescue Locator, a directory of food rescue organizations

To help simplify and strengthen the food donation process, we have just launched the Food Rescue Locator in collaboration with our partners at EndFoodWaste.org and the Food Rescue Alliance. This free online tool allows anyone with excess food (individuals, offices, events, restaurants, you name it!) to find a nearby food rescue group they can donate to.

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Stony Creek Colors: A Seed-to-Jeans Story

Stony Creek Colors makes indigo dye for denim in the USA by sourcing natural indigo from farmers in the South

If something can be said to be more American than apple pie, it’s probably blue jeans. Unfortunately, the trademark denim blue color has become dependent upon toxic chemical processes. Natural indigo, the original plant source of that famous blue jean color, has been almost entirely forgotten in the textile supply chain. Stony Creek Colors, our latest investment, is working to bring back natural, American-made indigo dyes and give farmers needed opportunities to grow new, sustainable crops.

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Logan High School Clean Air Poster Contest

Logan High School 2015 Clean Air Poster Contest winner

Utah is experiencing some of its worst measures of air quality in years due in large part to vehicle idling. In order to reach new drivers with the anti-idling message and get them involved in creating change, Utah State University professors started a popular poster contest program that is educating teens, spreading awareness and teaching real-world marketing skills in the process.

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7 Exciting Findings from ReFED’s Food Waste Report

One solution to food waste is developing the market for imperfect produce

A group of the country’s foremost experts and business leaders concerned with food waste convened in Stanford, Calif., on March 9 for the release of a report that could be a turning point in the movement to reduce food waste in the United States. The first of its kind, the report looks at the problem of food waste through an economic lens. It analyzes the costs and benefits of various solutions to the problem and offers up strategies for putting the solutions into action. Here are some of the most exciting findings.

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How the Moringa Tree Could Improve Nutrition Worldwide

After moringa leaves are harvested, they are dried and ground.

Lisa Curtis first encountered moringa as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger when a local woman suggested she eat the tree’s leaves to combat fatigue caused by her vegetarian diet. Soon she felt better and became an advocate for the nutritional power of moringa, a drought-tolerant tree that has provided food around the world for thousands of years. Read how Curtis’ company Kuli Kuli, our latest investment, is creating an market for moringa to improve nutrition and livelihoods of women farmers in the developing world.

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2015 Year-End Review: A Year of Ingenuity

Sustainable America

One of the most popular movies of 2015 was The Martian, a story of an astronaut, stranded on Mars, who uses ingenuity to grow food in poor Martian soil, capture solar energy to extend the distance he can travel in rovers, and communicate with the public on Earth. This captivating movie has a lot in common with the year we had at Sustainable America.

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How to Compost in Winter, Indoors or Outdoors

How to compost in winter by Rebecca Louis, author of Compost City

Don’t let Old Man Winter put the freeze on your composting efforts! He’ll try his best to thwart you by turning your piles to ice, slowing down microbes, shooing away composting crawlies, and stealing away the sun. Still, composters with a fire for recycling food scraps can melt through any Polar Vortex, Arctic Assault or plain ol’ cold snap to make sure the job gets done. Here are a few tips and strategies for making winter composting a success from Rebecca Louie, author of Compost City.

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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.


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