Sustainable America Blog

Author Archives: Amy Leibrock

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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‘The Gleaners and I’: a French Food Rescue Film

During a dreary 1999-2000 winter in France, filmmaker Agnès Varda explored modern-day gleaning in the documentary The Gleaners and I. The 17-year-old gem of a film, which can be streamed on Amazon or Netflix, is worth a watch for anyone interested in the interwoven threads of waste, poverty, and human ingenuity.

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Working to Solve Food Waste? Start Here

Further With Food Further with Food: Center for Food Loss and Waste Solutions

In the last few years, interest in solving the food waste issue has exploded. Research is being done, documentaries are being made, toolkits have been written, campaigns have been launched — all in an effort to reach a national goal of reducing food waste by half by 2030. Now, a public-private coalition of food waste groups has created a website to gather all of this great work in one place — furtherwithfood.org.

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Are Food Waste Bans Working?

Man putting fresh produce into a trash can

Photo: Earth Fix via Flickr

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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3 Great Ideas from OpenIDEO’s Food Waste Challenge

Post it notes on desk

Photo: Larry Vincent via Flickr

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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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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