Sustainable America Blog

Music, Summertime and Food Waste

Sustainable America food waste alive at 5

Photos: Tebben Lopez

Public events like conferences, concerts and festivals present a great opportunity to make a dent in the 40% of food wasted in the United States. With that in mind, we’ve partnered with the Alive @ Five concert series in Stamford, Conn., this summer to help divert the event’s food waste to be composted rather than where it used to go: the landfill.

Vendors at the eight-concert series are serving food with compostable utensils, cups and plates, and the compost facility handling the waste accepts all food scraps, including meat and dairy, so fans don’t have to separate their food into different bins. Along with “What to Compost” signage on the bins to help raise awareness about the composting program, we are handing out postcards that explain how to compost at home. With the assistance of our volunteers, concertgoers have been very receptive to composting and taking a few extra moments to place their items into the right bins.

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The food waste we collect is delivered to New Milford Farm out of New Milford, CT, a commercial composting facility we selected through Biocycle’s findacomposter.com. This commercial, enclosed facility can convert food waste into high quality compost within 45-60 days, depending on the time of year. The finished compost will be delivered back to Mill River Park Collaborative, which is restoring Mill River Park in Stamford. Coming full circle is exactly what composting is about, taking our food waste and putting it back into the ground to ultimately create a sustainable food cycle.

As an organization, it has been incredibly valuable to better understand the logistics required to separate food waste from other waste streams. Jeremy Kranowitz, Executive Director of Sustainable America, said, “With this knowledge in hand, we now have the ability to help other conferences, concerts, and sporting events expand their own food waste recycling efforts, and divert it from landfills to instead be used to grow more food.”

We look forward to expanding our food waste efforts as SXSW Eco’s official 2013 Food & Waste Education Partner in October. Along with exhibiting and speaking at the conference, we will assist SXSW Eco implement a composting program in order to help achieve a zero-waste event.

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With a few concerts still to go featuring Howie Day, Matt Nathanson and Michael McDonald, we look forward to continuing to make a positive impact and spreading the word about reducing food waste. If you are in the Stamford area, stop by and say hello! And be sure to drop that compostable napkin in the right bin! Finally, a big thank you to our volunteers who have been working so hard to make all of this possible!

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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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