Sustainable America Blog

Author Archives: Amy Leibrock

Find What’s Fresh with the Seasonal Food Guide App

Fresh peaches in a farmers market basket

Photo: eren {sea+prairie} via Flickr

There are few things better than eating a peach at peak ripeness while it’s still warm from sitting on a farmers market table. But where I live, the local peach season is blink-and-you’ll-miss-it short — and I often miss it. With a new app and website from GRACE Communications Foundation, I’ll never miss another peach season.

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Car Sharing Beyond Uber and Lyft

People standing beside their Maven car share

GM's Maven car sharing service features an app-based key system

A variety of app-driven companies are working to use technology to meet our personal transportation needs making it possible for more and more people to go car-free. Here’s a look at the options, including a few you might not have heard of yet.

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“Safe” Air Isn’t Safe Enough

Cars and trucks at a near standstill on a 9-land highway.

Photo: URBAN TEXTURES, © 1998 PhotoSpin, powerphotos.com. Via Flickr

A new study released this week shows that levels of air pollution that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems safe may not be safe enough. The study, conducted by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that long-term exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and ozone — even below current standards established by established by the EPA — increases the risk of premature death.

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Are You Watching ‘Scraps’?

SCRAPS TV Show

Cooking with food waste has officially tipped the trendy scales. The concept now has its own TV series, called Scraps, which launched in late May on the FYI network. Sponsored by Sur La Table, the half-hour show features the cookware retailer’s chef Joel Gamoran and other chefs who create menus made with often-tossed items, like herb stems, broccoli stalks and chickpea water.

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Video: How Idling at School Affects Kids’ Health

cars idling exhaust fumes while kids play on playground

There’s an invisible threat to children’s health happening at U.S. schools every day. Air monitoring typically finds elevated levels of toxins during school pick-up times as parents idle their cars waiting for their kids. We’ve created this short video to help spread the message and help more schools go idle-free. Please watch, take the pledge to stop idling, and share the #iturnitoff movement in your school community.

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Why (and How!) Your School Should Do a Student Food Waste Audit

School lunch staff and students enjoy the new school lunch menu

Photo: Lance Cheung for U.S. Department of Agriculture via Flickr

Food waste happens at all points in our food system, and school cafeterias are no exception. With 31 million school lunches being served every day, there’s a tremendous untapped opportunity to prevent student food waste and teach kids about food conservation at the same time.

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A Smart Solution for Truck Idling

Trucks at night at a truckstop

Photo: Todd Lappinvia Flickr

Like most good innovations, Idle Smart’s automated idling management solution for trucks began with someone thinking, there’s got to be a better way. In this case, that person was a truck mechanic in Kansas, who realized a lot of the problems he was fixing were caused by the amount of idling trucks were doing while on the job. Functions like keeping cabin temperatures comfortable for drivers overnight or engines from freezing in cold weather are necessary to keeping trucks on the road, but idling engines cause wear and tear — and costs money in fuel and maintenance. Learn more about this smart solutions to truck riding…

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We’re Digging These Techie Garden Tools

FarmBot garden

FarmBot bring precision agriculture to the backyard garden.

Whether you’re an experienced gardener or are just getting started, technology is trying to improve on age-old techniques of growing food. We like to think Sustainable America is part of this trend with Shared Earth, a website that helps match up would-be gardeners with people who have land to share. You can use it to find a plot to garden — or someone to garden on your land. Ready to plant? Check out these tech solutions to common gardening challenges.

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How to Start a Shared Garden

Urban garden in full bloom

A Cincinnati couple made an arrangement with a friend to garden in an abandoned lot at his artist studio. Photo courtesy Jen Wendeln.

Are you planning to have a garden this year? Maybe a better question is, are you able to have a garden this year? Interest in growing food has exploded in the last decade, but getting your own plot of tomatoes or cukes going may seem impossible if you lack enough outdoor space or don’t know how to garden. Learn how millions of people are solving this problem through garden sharing.

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5 Ways to Get Involved With Food Rescue

Table of rescued food

Photo courtesy RobGreenfield.tv

As we wrap up #LoveFoodRescue month, we want to leave you with some ideas for getting involved in food rescue in your area. As a reminder, food rescue is the act of saving wholesome food that would otherwise go to waste from places like grocery stores, restaurants, markets and dining facilities and getting it to those in need. It’s a great way to cut down on food waste and help people at the same time.

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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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