Sustainable America Blog

Bowls Full of ‘Chowda’ with Zero Waste

fish chowder

Photo Credit: nate steiner via Compfight cc

Sustainable America is headquartered in New England, which means we love our chowder. So when we had the chance to help make the 6th-annual Chowdafest a zero-waste event, we jumped at the opportunity.

The culinary competition is a popular fundraiser where attendees slurp and rate chowder samples from 28 award-winning chefs and restaurants. The event takes place on February 2 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and benefits the Connecticut Food Bank.

We’re sure the contestants’ chowders will be so good that little will go to waste. But since it’s inevitable that some will, we’ll be on hand to help coordinate a food waste recovery effort that will ensure all of the bowls, utensils and food that’s thrown away will get composted rather than end up in a landfill.

We’ve recruited more than 30 volunteers from Sacred Heart University who will help event attendees separate their compostable and recycled products into designated receptacles. The food waste and tableware will then be sent to a commercial composting facility where it will become rich soil, similar to what we did for the Alive @ 5 summer concert series, another popular Connecticut event.

“We’re thrilled to see marquee events like Chowdafest do much more than just talk the talk” said Jeremy Kranowitz, executive director Sustainable America. “They are walking the walk. Our partnership allows us to educate the public further on the importance of reducing food waste, composting and using locally grown foods.”


World Centric, a Petaluma, California-based manufacturer of compostable products, is providing plant-based spoons and cups that can all be composted. “The soufflé cups that World Centric is providing are 100% made from plant fibers and can withstand heat up to 200 degrees but they’re cool to the touch making them perfect for sampling all our chowder, soup & bisque,” said Jim Keenan, director of Chowdafest.

If you’re in the Bridgeport area, stop by Chowdafest on Feb. 2, from 11am to 3pm at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. We promise, your time — or food — won’t be wasted.

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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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