Sustainable America Blog

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.

Ingenuity in Food
The seeds we planted in 2013 and 2014 started to grow and flourish in 2015. One of our biggest success stories was our work with NASCAR and the Richmond International Raceway in making their food efforts more sustainable. A typical race weekend can generate the same amount of waste as a mid-size city. We helped divert thousands of pounds to feed the hungry, and tens of thousands of pounds to create compost, which will be returned to enrich the soil and grow more food. Best of all, we identified savings that made the entire effort cost effective so they can repeat this work in the future.

We also found interesting early-stage food companies to support with investments, including California Safe Soil and Imperfect Produce. Like Matt Damon’s character Mark in The Martian, both companies are finding new ways to transform former waste products into valuable products that increase food availability.

Ingenuity in Fuel
The fuel story in 2015 was one of plunging gasoline prices and lots of vehicle sales. Overall fuel economy declined even though most experts agree that the price of oil will climb again before long. Now, with prices low, is the perfect time to invest in fuel efficiency technologies and alternatives to oil to make our transportation network more resilient and efficient in the future. Our fuel conservation efforts continue as we work to help individuals and fleets of all sizes find ways to make their vehicles more fuel-efficient. One example is FleetPrint, a new program we created to help fleet managers improve miles per gallon (MPG) and reduce fuel waste.

We found two great investments in the fuel space, too. EV Connect and Infinite Composites are two exciting companies expanding the efficiency of alternatives to oil-based transportation.

Communicating with the Public
Our websites — this one plus,, and — continue to provide a wealth of information to help the general public understand why the issues of food and fuel are so important. Our materials were discovered and shared by influencers, including celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern, New York Yankees baseball player Mark Teixeira, and hip-hop star Sandra “Pepa” Denton from Salt-N-Pepa. Smithsonian magazine used our materials as a guide to a more sustainable Thanksgiving. We stood with the U.S. EPA and USDA as they announced a groundbreaking national goal to reduce food waste by 50 percent. We were interviewed by National Public Radio and ABC News (and even the Biogas Channel!). We’ve developed creative ways to get sustainability messaging to a large segment of the public, and have now reached at least 18 million consumers nationwide.

We are working every day to make our nation’s food and fuel systems more efficient and resilient, which in turn will improve the environment, reduce hunger, help our nation’s economy, and create a more sustainable America. Thank you for your continued support.

You can read more about our 2015 work in the 2015 Year-End Report

Jeremy Kranowitz
Executive Director

Racing to End Food Waste
Imperfect Produce: Giving ‘Uglies’ a Chance
Building a Better Gas Tank

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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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