The problem is clear: Two of the top three expenses for most Americans are food and fuel, even despite today’s lower gas prices. Our current food and fuel systems are tightly interconnected and unsustainable. Sustainable America’s mission is to tackle these issues by helping to reduce America’s oil consumption by 50 percent and increase food availability by 50 percent over the next two decades.
First, I want to thank all of our generous donors who make our work possible. (Not a donor? Here’s how to give.) We are using those donations to tap into America’s entrepreneurial spirit and its powerful river of creativity to create change.
Here are a few highlights of our organization’s accomplishments and milestones that made a difference in 2014. You can read more in our 2014 Year-End Review.
• As a country that wastes 40 percent of the food it produces, the need and demand to address food waste is enormous. Many groups, including nonprofits and government agencies, have called for a compelling, consumer-facing Website to educate the public about food waste issues. We created I Value Food, a new public education campaign, to meet that need and will continue to develop its reach in 2015.
• We were one of the major partners for Feeding the 5,000, a public awareness event in Oakland, Calif., that rescued 6 tons of produce that normally would have been destroyed for aesthetic reasons. We’re planning similar events for 2015.
• We invested in EcoScraps, a company that turns fruit and vegetable scraps from grocery stores and wholesalers into high-quality compost sold at garden supply centers.
• In Connecticut, we diverted tens of thousands of bowls of soup to compost at Chowdafest. The compost was ultimately returned to the community several months later to improve a community garden in Norwalk.
• We were the wasted food partner at the Kentucky Derby Festival, and partnered with InSinkerator to demonstrate new technology that can process wasted food, sent it to an anaerobic digestion facticity and turn it into renewable natural gas.
• We acquired Shared Earth, a Website that matches those who want to grow food with those who have available places to offer. It will be relaunched in 2015 as a powerful tool that can magnify opportunities for urban and suburban agriculture across the country.
• We invested in AeroFarms, a scalable indoor agricultural growing system that reduces commodity inputs and increases food system resiliency, especially in urban centers.
• In Massachusetts, we worked with a local delivery company to help them save $75,000 in fuel costs across their fleet of 75 vehicles. That’s $1,000 per truck, per year!
• We invested in XL Hybrids, a company that developed a cost-effective way to retrofit existing gas-fueled commercial vehicles into hybrids, a solution that can increase a fleet’s fuel efficiency by 20 percent.
• We invested in eNow, which aims to reduce truck idling with integrated thin-film solar panels and auxiliary power management systems for long-haul and delivery trucks.
• Our I Turn It Off program continued to grow, with over 10,500 individuals pledging to reduce their fuel consumption.
• We worked with mayors in several New England cities to begin the work of reducing fuel waste in their municipal fleets. We can now approach any university, municipality, or corporation with a fleet of vehicles and help them reduce their fuel consumption.
• White Castle agreed to place anti-idling signs at 15 of their drive-thrus in Ohio on Earth Day, as did First Niagara Bank at several branches in Connecticut.
How You Can Help
There’s much more to do in the year ahead, and we’re excited to keep pushing our programs forward. Please join us in working toward a more sustainable America by making a tax-deductible donation.
And keep this in mind: If you know of a company that would like to reduce its vehicle fleet’s fuel consumption, if you know of a restaurant or grocery that would like to reduce their food waste, if you see an abandoned city building or vacant lot with the potential to be turned into an urban garden, contact us so we can work together to build a more sustainable America.