Sustainable America Blog

Author Archives: Sarah Stankorb

Stony Creek Colors: A Seed-to-Jeans Story

Stony Creek Colors makes indigo dye for denim in the USA by sourcing natural indigo from farmers in the South

If something can be said to be more American than apple pie, it’s probably blue jeans. Unfortunately, the trademark denim blue color has become dependent upon toxic chemical processes. Natural indigo, the original plant source of that famous blue jean color, has been almost entirely forgotten in the textile supply chain. Stony Creek Colors, our latest investment, is working to bring back natural, American-made indigo dyes and give farmers needed opportunities to grow new, sustainable crops.

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A New Fix for the Nitrogen Problem

Cornfield

Photo: Carol Von Canon via Flickr

Even though farmers don’t blindly follow outmoded aphorisms of the trade, like measuring corn “knee-high by the Fourth of July”, many do still abide by old habits. Some apply manure annually in November regardless of weather or land conditions. Many do their best to adapt to the season’s rainfall, yet treat all their farmland the same way, regardless of how that land varies across acreage. And that hurts their bottom lines—and the environment. A new technology, however, has the potential to push farming forward by helping farmers grow more with less impact on the environment.

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An Investment in Organic Farmland

Chickens grazing on pasture at a Farmland LP farm

Chickens graze on a pasture at one of Farmland LP's farms.

A road trip to Oregon farmland crystalized a new business idea for partners Craig Wichner and Jason Bradford. “It was very clear farmland was a great asset and that it was basically being underutilized,” says Wichner, “that growing monocrops was operationally efficient, but it was the worst way to get returns from farmland itself.” With investment and the use of sustainable agriculture templates, they developed Farmland LP, a system of livestock, vegetable and grain rotations that could both reclaim land for organic farming and turn a profit.

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Students Seeking Fuel Cell

Darien High School Fuel Cell Team's car

The Darien High School Fuel Cell Team needs to raise $8,200 to buy a new fuel cell in order to cope at the Shell Eco-Marathon in April.

We’re inspired by a group of high school students in Connecticut who are building their own hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle — a project that has been in the works for a decade. There’s just one catch: They need to raise money for a new fuel cell in time to compete at the Shell Eco-Marathon in April. Learn more about these enterprising kids and how to support their project.

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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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