Sustainable America Blog

Are Food Waste Bans Working?

Man putting fresh produce into a trash can

In the fight against food waste, a handful of states have enacted policies that ban some generators of food waste from sending food scraps to landfills. These laws are new, so data about their effectiveness isn’t widely available yet, but a pair of reports from Vermont and Massachusetts were released recently that show these policy solutions are making headway.

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Our Top Stories of 2016

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

Every year, we like to take a look at our most popular blog posts from the past 12 months. This year’s list highlights a few projects that deserves special mention, in case you missed them.

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With EVs Taking Off, What’s the Future for Other Alt Fuels?

Tesla Model 3

Electric vehicles are increasingly dominating the alternative fuel market for passenger vehicles in the U.S. With this boom in electric vehicle sales, we wondered how other alternative fuel vehicle options fairing. Is there still a place for hybrid, natural gas and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the passenger vehicle market?

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3 Great Ideas from OpenIDEO’s Food Waste Challenge

Post it notes on desk

There’s some great energy around solving the food waste problem lately. Case in point is OpenIDEO, which recently held a food waste challenge in partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation, ReFED, and The San Francisco Department of the Environment. The purpose was to tap into a global community of creative problem solvers to develop ideas that could dramatically reduce food waste. Here are three of our favorite ideas.

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Anthony Bourdain Is Producing a Food Waste Documentary

Chef Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain is adding his name to a growing list of celebrity chefs working to raise awareness about the worldwide food waste problem. It was announced this week that the chef, author and host of CNN’s Parts Unknown is producing a feature-length documentary called WASTED! The Story of Food Waste, in conjunction with The Rockefeller Foundation.

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At Juliet, Zero Waste Is Baked Into the Menu

Crepes with Fennel on plate with menu from Juliet

A few weeks ago, 20 diners were treated to a family-style meal at Juliet, one of the country’s hottest new restaurants. On the menu at the small Somerville, Mass., eatery were 10 beautifully crafted dishes — with a twist. Nearly all of the ingredients were foods that would have probably gone to waste if not for the care and skillful attention of the owners, chef Josh Lewin and Katrina Jazayeri.

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‘Farm-to-Court’ Food at the NBA’s Greenest Arena

Chef Michael Tuohy at Golden 1 Center with meat

The Sacramento Kings’ new Golden 1 Center has just set the bar very high for sustainability in sports. One aspect of its many environmental features and programs is Chef Michael Tuohy’s mission to source 90 percent of the arena’s food from within 150 miles.

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Clean Cars May Cost Less Than You Think

Chevy Spark

Yes, you can afford an alt-fuel car.

A new study released this week by Massachusetts Institute of Technology compares the lifecycle cost and emissions of owning 125 different vehicles on the market, and guess what? It turns out that clean cars are a great deal for both the environment and your pocketbook.

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Range Anxiety? Today’s electric cars can cover majority of driving needs

Range anxiety? Today's electric cars can cover vast majority of daily U.S. driving needs

Electrifying transportation is one of the most promising ways to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, but so-called range anxiety – concern about being stranded with an uncharged car battery – remains a barrier to electric vehicle adoption. Is range anxiety justified given current cars and charging infrastructure?

It’s a question my research group and I addressed in a recent study. Specifically, we asked: When looking down on the geographic area of the U.S. from a bird’s-eye view, how many personal vehicles on the road daily could be replaced with a low-cost battery electric vehicle (EV), even if daytime charging isn’t available?

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New Program! Sign Up to Reduce Food Waste & Save Money

Learn proven ways to waste less food and save money

Today, we’re excited to launch a new online program that can help you break the cycle of food waste in your kitchen. It’s called I Value Food: Too Good to Waste, and it’s based on successful strategies developed by the U.S. EPA. Through this program, many families have reduced food waste by up to 50%, saving up to $1,600 per year!

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How One Chef Is Fighting Food Waste at the Rio Olympics

Refettorio Gastromotiva in Rio for the 2016 Olympics

As nations around the world have been preparing teams to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, chef Massimo Bottura has assembled a dream team for his own kind of sport: feeding people in need from food that would go to waste. RefettoRio Gastromotiva, which opens today in Rio, is projected to recover 12 tons of food surplus from the Olympic Village in just 44 days during the Olympics and Paralympics.

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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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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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