Sustainable America Blog

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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Teen Activist Pushes Town to Go Idle-Free

Alex Scaperotta is a teen environmental activist in Wilton, CT, on a mission to convince drivers to stop idling

For more than half of his life, 17-year-old Alex Scaperotta has been fighting to end unnecessary vehicle idling in his hometown of Wilton, Conn. As a third grader, Scaperotta became interested in climate change. Wanting to make a difference, he … Continue reading

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Top 5 Food Waste Trends of 2015

City Harvest Lead Distribution Center Associate Kareem Weekes at work with a rider pallet jack and rescued carrots before U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Deputy Administrator Stan Meiberg will join with private industry and charitable organizations represented by City Harvest Executive Director Jilly Stephens, Food Marketing Institute President and CEO Leslie Sarasin; and Feeding America Chief Supply Chain Officer Bill Thomas, to announce the United States’ first food waste reduction goals at City Harvest’s food recycling facility in Long Island City, N.Y., on Wednesday, September 16, 2015.

It seems that food waste is having a moment.

When we launched I Value Food a year ago, we knew the food waste issue was starting to get more attention, but we couldn’t foresee the tremendous progress the movement would make in 12 months. Looking back, 2015 may go down in history as the year Americans finally looked eye-to-eye with the 70-billion-pound mountain of food waste and decided to dismantle it.

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Our Most Popular Food and Fuel Stories of 2015

How to make KCups less wasteful

In case you missed any, here’s a roundup of our most popular blog posts of 2015. As you can see by this list, our readers are more interested than ever in learning about the food waste problem and finding ways to fix it. On the fuel side, stories about innovation and idling reduction were popular, too.

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Charging Ahead in the Cloud

EV Connect is a cloud-based management system for electric vehicle charging stations

We’re charged up about Sustainable America’s latest investment. EV Connect, a 6-year-old company in El Segundo, Calif., is working to streamline the electric vehicle charging ecosystem for both drivers and property managers through a hardware-agnostic, cloud-based software system.

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CropMobster Starts a Salvaged Food Dinner Series

Sweetbreads from CropMobster's Supperclub at Backyard

Today, we’re bringing you a guest post by Nick “Nicky Bobby” Papadopoulos, CEO and Co-Founder of CropMobster. Nick started CropMobster on his family’s Northern California farm with the mission of igniting the power of community sharing and social media to crowdsource solutions to food waste, hunger and local food system challenges. Since 2013, CropMobster’s network has saved more than 2 million pounds of food from going to waste in the San Francisco Bay region! Recently, Nick — inspired by an article on IValueFood.com — organized an $80-a-plate dinner for 30 made from salvaged food. Here’s how he did it.

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Food Waste Scorecard: The Results Are In

I Value Food Food Waste Quiz results

In January, when we launched our food waste campaign IValueFood.com, we started quizzing visitors about their food waste habits. The quiz surveyed the lifestyle factors and shopping and eating behaviors that have been shown to lead to food waste. The good news is that awareness is growing about food waste and how to reduce it, but we still have work to do. Here are a few of the results.

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2015 Sustainable America Gift Guide

Sustainable holiday gift ideas

The holidays are a great time to show your love for family and friends — and the planet — by giving eco-friendly gifts. We’ve put together a fun list of gift ideas that can help lucky recipients grow and enjoy food, waste less of it, and keep safe on bike rides.

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Voyo Is Turning Older Cars Into Fuel-Efficient Smart Cars

Voyo Ecostart plug and play Start Stop technology

You’ve got a FitBit for your body. Soon, you can have something similar for your car. San Francisco startup Voyomotive has developed Voyo, a telematics system that can tap into your car’s diagnostics system and allow you do a whole host of things previously only available on tricked-out connected cars. We’re most excited about Voyo’s fuel-saving features, like a plug-and-play start/stop system, that can help drivers dramatically cut idling time and drive more efficiently.

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Sustainable America Receives Grant to Expand Food Waste Education

Food Too Good To Waste teaches faith-based participants how to shop for groceries to reduce food waste

Earlier this year, we launched I Value Food, a national campaign to help educate people about food waste and how to reduce it. Soon, we’ll be kicking off a project closer to home, here in Connecticut. We were just awarded a $25,000 grant from the EPA’s New England office to implement a Food: Too Good to Waste program with members of faith-based congregations in the Greater Bridgeport and Stamford areas.

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How to Keep Food Safe in Power Outages and Floods

Keep the fridge and freezer closed during a power outage

When dealing with severe weather, the priority is keeping yourself, your family and your pets safe. If the power goes out — and is out for a while — it’s important to keep your food from spoiling and know how to decide what to toss it if does go bad.

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Join Us and Foodstand for #NoFoodWaste November!

Foodstand's #NoFoodWaste November contest

As we head into the holiday season, it’s a great time to challenge yourself to minimize food waste — and get creative about it! Our friends at Foodstand seem to agree. This month, we’re thrilled that they are choosing to use their new app to inspire food lovers to waste less and share tips.

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Imperfect Produce: Giving ‘Uglies’ a Chance

Imperfect Produce, ugly red bell pepper

Did you know that most grocery stores won’t buy bell peppers that can’t stand up straight? Strict produce cosmetic standards require peppers to have a perfect bell shape. “If you put it on a table and it tips over onto its side, it’s going to be rejected,” says Ben Simon.

Simon is one of the founders of Imperfect Produce, a startup we’ve recently added to our portfolio of investments. The San Francisco business sources cosmetically imperfect produce from farms and sells it in affordable weekly subscription boxes. In addition to moving this food back onto our plates, they are recovering the energy, water, and other resources used to grow all of that so called “ugly’ produce.

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White House Recognizes Sustainable Agriculture Changemakers

Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture at the White House

The White House recently honored 12 agricultural leaders as Champions of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture. They were recognized for leading efforts in sustainable agriculture that benefit soil, air, and water quality while helping to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions. Among them was our newest board member, Erin Fitzgerald Sexson. Sexson is senior vice president of global sustainability at Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

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Report: More EVs and Cleaner Grid Can Lower Emissions Significantly by 2050

Electric vehicles at EV charging stations

Some studies have found that replacing gasoline vehicles with electric vehicles is like trading one dirty fossil fuel for another if the electricity is coming from a coal-fired power plant. Other studies make a good case for driving electric even in regions dominated by coal.

These studies are helpful if you’re evaluating which car to buy and drive today, but what about in the future? What impact can getting more EVs on the road have as the energy grid gets cleaner? Can EVs make a significant difference in lowering total emissions?

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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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