Posts Tagged 'food waste'

Let’s all be Gleaning Machines

Gleaning Canva GraphicNo there isn’t a typo in the title, gleaning is a real technique that helps minimize food waste and hunger. What is it? It’s a  practice, used for hundreds of years, that seeks to reduce the amount of food that is wasted because it is not visually appealing. Gleaners harvest the crops that are not used by farmers and deliver them to those in need.

Linda Trozer, a member of the Society of St. Andrew, explains the unbelievable reality of agricultural food waste in the U.S. today.  Food is wasted at a disturbingly high rate, “The statistics are that 96 billion pounds of food are left — this is pre-consumer food — to go to waste in this country.”

What does this have to do with the average American family? The answer is food deserts. Millions of Americans are living in these areas that are lacking in cost-friendly, nutritious food.

Food Desert Infogrpahic

By throwing away edible food for superficial reasons, farmers prevent access to fresh fruits and veggies for thousands of Americans and contribute to the food desert epidemic. Naked Juice produced an interesting documentary about food deserts and their effect on American neighborhoods.

Gleaning provides an excellent solution to the this problem. If it sounds like something you might want to participate in, check out local organizations such as San Diego Roots and Crop Swap  for upcoming events. Whether you are a farmer or a novice gardener, anyone can play a role in reducing food waste by gleaning or distributing gleaned produce.

Gleaning

Let’s glean the food waste away one lemon tree at a time!

If you want to learn more about the gleaning process and other food waste reduction practices,check out our past blog about gleaning and I Love A Clean San Diego’s recycling website. We can all be lean green gleaning machines! 

Closing the Loop on Food & Plastics

An important conversation is buzzing right now locally and nationally about food waste. This past April a mandatory organics recycling law went into effect in California, requiring businesses generating 8 cubic yards of organic waste per week to divert it from the landfill. The nationwide campaign supported by the Ad Council is a call to action to end the 300 lbs. of food the average person tosses away each year. But what about the hard plastics most of this food is packaged in?

Bulk Food and Produce 1

Plastic free grocery shopping.

Unfortunately, plastics and food go hand in hand. Walk down any grocery store aisle and most food is accompanied with some form of plastic. Some plastics take the form of a container to hold butter or coffee grounds; others might be the tags keeping bread bags closed. The concept of the zero-waste grocery store is just beginning to make strides here in the United States. Here are some different ways to apply the zero waste hierarchy to the plastics that might accompany the food you buy.

Reduce:

One of the simplest steps to closing the loop with food products is purchasing in bulk or at your local farmer’s market. I love to bring my own cloth bags and the farmers market is a great way to avoid the plastic containers that a lot of produce comes in.

Reuse:

Small plastic containers that hold candies like tic-tacs can be reused to hold spices to take camping. K-cups can even be used as starts for seedlings! Try using plastic bread tags as identifiers for different keys or a holder for hair ties.

Repurposed TicTac Containers via pinterest

Credit: skruben.blogspot.com

 Repurpose:

Take on a small art project and repurpose that plastic container into something useful! I decided to turn a container that once held oats into one that holds plastic trash bags.

Repurposed Bag Container_Leila

Repurposed oatmeal container that now holds trash bags. I had fun decorating the outside of it!

 Recycle:

Recycle when you can! Hard, rigid plastic containers can be placed in your blue bin, as well as items in tetra-pak containers like almond milk.

If you are curious about other plastics that can be recycled or how you can take steps to reduce your food waste footprint, visit WasteFreeSD.org.

Can recycle: milk cartons, juice boxes, and broth boxes

Recyclable: milk cartons, juice boxes, and broth boxes

 

Save the Forgotten Food

One of the best ways to fight food waste is to re-think the food that we buy in comparison to the food that we actually use. We’ve all had that feeling of disappointment while going through our refrigerator only to find hidden fruits and veggies that turned moldy because they were shoved  into the back of the fridge. To understand why this is problematic, check out this short video produced by Ad Council.

The Ad Council provides helpful tips on the best ways to prevent food waste in your home including rethinking your shopping guidelines and understanding the truth behind the dates on the food we buy! Here are some of our favorite food saving tips for our wallets and the environment!

Before you head out of the grocery store, start by planning your grocery list.  Here is an example made specifically for creating zero food waste. One of the best things you can do is to only buy enough fresh food for the upcoming week.

Here are some more tips on meal planning to help make grocery store lists easier to plan:

mEAL

  1. Take a few moments and figure out exactly how many meals you need to prepare.
  2. Consider the work load of the week to decide the complexity of meals you can make.
  3. Incorporate seasonal produce.
  4. Track your food consumption weekly to get a more accurate idea of how much food you need.
  5. Food expiration dates are only suggestions; they refer to the manufacturer’s estimate of when the food quality will be at its best and has less to do with actual food safety.
  6. Use a recipe generator to use up odds and ends left in your kitchen

Once you’re at the store, grab your reusable bags, and your shopping list. Our Marketing Manager, Sarah, keeps her grocery list on her phone because handwritten notes are easily forgotten or lost.

Also, while you’re scoping out the produce, choose the “ugly” fruits and veggies. Odd shapes and superficial imperfections do not affect the taste or health benefits of the produce at all!

There are many things you can do here in San Diego reduce food waste – limit portion sizes, plan grocery lists, or volunteer at a food bank such as San Diego Food System Alliance, and San Diego Food Bank. Use any of these resources as a launching pad for your path to creating less food waste!

Food Waste: Impact beyond the Plate

My faceHi I’m Shannon and as one of the marketing interns for ILACSD I am excited to have the opportunity to explore the effects of food waste . My interest in food deserts and the lack of healthy food options in America led me to investigate how food waste affects our community and ways we can prevent it all together.

When I think about wasted food I imagine feeling guilty about leaving those last pieces of broccoli on my plate after dinner, however, food waste is much more serious than wasting a few good veggies. Food waste refers to the massive quantity of quality food that is wasted annually instead of being given to those in need. According to the National Resources Defense Council, “Forty percent of the food produced in the United States never gets eaten.” So what does food waste really do?

Don’t worry there are ways to fight back against food waste!

The San Diego Department of Public Works has some great solutions to help you minimize food waste in the future. They rely upon the Environmental Protection Agency’s food recovery strategy to most efficiently and cost effectively reduce San Diego’s food waste. Based on this hierarchy, San Diego’s DPW established a food waste system based on 3 simple steps: Reduce, Donate and Compost.

Food Recovery Hierachy

To best implement waste reduction in our personal lives the DPW suggests re-considering portion sizes, limiting the number of menu items you order when you go out to eat and planning all the week’s meals so your grocery list only consists of what you need to make those meals. According to the DPW it is important to be conscious of the volume of food you eat in comparison to the volume of food you waste.

Donating leftover food is another great way to reduce food waste! There are a lot of local organizations that lead San Diego’s effort to feed hungry San Diegans. Check out Feeding America and San Diego Food Bank for local options to donate your leftover quality food. Reducing food waste also means giving those without the means to feed themselves the food they need to survive.

CV_AfterSchool_compost (4)

Kids think composting is fun too!

The final step is using spoiled and leftover food for composting in your own backyard or neighborhood! Check out our previous blogs on composting to see how easy and fun it really is.

It’s important to remember that food waste is a serious national issue so let’s work together to help make San Diego even better than it already is and improve the lives of thousands in the process!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zero Waste 101

What is zero waste? First, let’s define what zero waste is to better understand how it affects you and what it means for our communities.

Zero waste is the process of eliminating reusable or repairable materials from ending up in the landfill. Zero waste encourages manufacturers, municipalities, and consumers to evaluate current consumption patterns and minimize single-use items. In order to divert materials from the landfill we must share the responsibility of producing and consuming sustainable products while limiting our use of disposable items.

Zero Waste Alternatives

Now that we know what zero waste means, let’s explore why this practice impacts San Diegans. Currently, the Miramar Landfill is composed of reusable substances; yes that is right REUSABLE substances. The top 3 reusable substances in our landfill are:

Organics (food scraps, yard waste) 39%

Construction and Demolition (building materials) 25%

Paper 17%

When we choose to send these items to the landfill, large amounts of methane gas are released which pose serious public and environmental health concerns. On the positive side,  all of this can either be recycled, reused or composted, which means, we can do something about it! ZW blog landfill

In response to the amount of reusable materials in the landfill (or should we say landFULL) the City of San Diego adopted a zero waste plan to focus on reusing rather than disposing items. Currently, the City of San Diego diversion rate has been consistent around 67%. Here is an outline of upcoming benchmarks for the city’s waste diversion plan:

  • 75%  by 2020
  • 90%  2035
  • 100% diversion rate by 2040.

The plan’s primary focus is on organics diversion. There are several resources available to help you reduce food waste through planning and composting. Learn more at by reading about some of our past food waste blogs and WasteFreeSD.org!

Even I Love A Clean San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database is getting a zero waste makeover! Stay tuned for the redesign release of WasteFreeSD.org this summer! The new database will include a easy to use search bar that will help you find convenient ways to divert waste from the landfill!

Get to know Sam!

Today, we’d like to introduce I Love A Clean San Diego’s Contract Manager, Sam! Sam hit the ground running when he first joined our team in October. Now that he is more settled in his role, we’d like to take this opportunity for all of you to get to know him better. Read on to learn about Sam’s journey to ILACSD!

Sam DeCapua, I Love A Clean San Diego’s Contract Manager (right)

Q: What brought you to I Love A Clean San Diego?

Before coming to ILACSD, I really enjoyed politics, but since there was such a wide array of issues that needed to be addressed, I realized that this is my chance to hone in on a topic I could really contribute to.

There are so many problems which affect us all in the environmental sphere, so I felt I had a great opportunity to make a positive change in my new-found home (San Diego) and I could work towards something I was passionate about: curbing food waste, educating others on the importance of the world around them. The great office culture that exists at I Love A Clean San Diego is a plus, too.

IMG_1259Q: What environmental topic are you most passionate about?

Although I think they are all important, I think food waste is a BIG one. It is a stark reminder that we have this abundance of food, which if channeled properly, could be a large step forward in effectively ENDING hunger in the United States. What a change that would be! Not only that, but food waste creates methane, which is 25 times more dangerous than CO2 emissions, when disposed at landfills. I’m also very intrigued by the Zero Waste initiatives showing up around the country. I love that California has been so aggressive to reduce the waste we create. It’s a great goal to pursue, and I’m really looking forward to contributing to the implementation of those lofty goals.

Q: What is your most recent environmental goal?
Since joining I Love A Clean San Diego, I’ve seen what a noticeable difference the smallest habits and actions taken daily can make. Therefore, I’ve tried to reduce buying excess packaging which creates unnecessary trash, as well as making sure I plan my portions for food to avoid wasting valuable food by either spoilage or excess. Packing lunches goes a long way in saving the environment and your wallet!IMG_1513

Q: “When I’m not at a the office or a cleanup you can find me…”

I love going to the gym, it is a big part of my life. Additionally, I love doing outdoorsy stuff, and I really want to get into surfing soon! Apart from all of that, I really love reading and watching Netflix. I’m also getting into the local restaurants and breweries, and as a big burrito and beer fan San Diego has definitely exceeded my expectations!

Join the conversation #AmericaRecyclesDay

Ani_team15Ani has written another amazing blog for this week! If you follow us on social media, you know that we’re gearing up for America Recycles Day, the one day a year that is dedicated to making the most of our resources through recycling and upcycling! By the end of this blog, not only will you know what ARD is all about, but we hope you’ll be inspired to celebrate with us by boosting our recycling efforts here in San Diego!  

The 8th annual America Recycles Day is November 15th so be sure to mark your calendar! The goal of America Recycles Day, an initiative led by Keep America Beautiful, is to acknowledge our recycling efforts and stir up a conversation about what more can be done to ensure our communities stay litter-free. This is ever so important in San Diego as the city is moving towards a 75% waste diversion rate by 2020, an ambitious goal that will engage the community to think twice about what is thrown out. That means that in addition to beefing up our recycling efforts, the city is also encouraging upcycling and repairing many things that would have otherwise been thrown away.

End of campaign infographic

Click here to see the full infographic highlighting last year’s results!

Last year during our campaign, an estimated 1,015 gallons of paint, 255 gallons of motor oil, and 980 gallons of other household hazardous waste was properly disposed of thanks to the help of Waste Free SD, the County of San Diego’s Recycling and Household Hazardous Waste database lead by yours truly, I Love A Clean San Diego.

What’s new this year?

  • GLEANERS! Don’t know what a “gleaner” is? Not to worry, we’ll get you up to speed!
  • Test your blue bin knowledge. Let us know how much you know about curbside recycling.
  • In need of a fast way to recycle your old cell phone and make some cash? You’ll learn more about one of my favorite tried and true options!

This year we would also like to recognize Sony for supporting our America Recycles Day campaign and allowing us to share important recycling information with all of you through social media. Sony is one of our longest standing supporters, helping us achieve our mission year round by volunteering at cleanups and supporting our environmental education programs. Thank you, Sony!

SONY_logo_blue_no(R)

Sony is our America Recycles Day sponsor! Thanks for investing in a clean and sustainable SD, Sony!

Be sure to connect with I Love A Clean San Diego on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep the conversation going during our 2-week long campaign. We want to congratulate your efforts and encourage everyone to recycle! Let’s keep San Diego clean, together #AmericaRecyclesDay

 

No yard, no problem! Composting in small spaces.

amanda-2-photoshopToday’s blog comes from our Hotline Manager, Amanda! Earlier this year, she wanted to increase her composting knowledge, much like our Education Manager and Master Composter-in training, Erika. After taking a series of classes, Amanda wanted to share these two new methods that are great for small spaces. Read on to learn the basics of two innovative composting methods; perhaps you’ll find one that works for you! 

Many of you already know about traditional backyard composting, but there are other options out there to help you recycle your organics at home. Today, I’ll cover some basics on two composting methods you may not have heard of yet: vermicomposting and bokashi.

erikas vermicompost - cropped

Erika keeps her vermicompost under her desk and just as it should, it doesn’t smell!

Vermicomposting is a method of composting where organic material is broken down through the use of worms, red wigglers and red tigers being the best types of worms for this method. Vermicomposting is a great option for apartment and condo dwellers or those that do not have yard waste available. It can be done on a small scale (even under your kitchen sink!). Mostly food scraps are added to the vermicompost bin, as opposed to traditional composting where large amounts of carbon rich yard waste is needed. Vermicompost bins are available for purchase, and some residents may even be able to purchase subsidized bins – click here to see if you qualify! Or if you are feeling handy and you want to build your own vermicompost bin, check out some basic instructions from the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation.

CV_AfterSchool_compost (17)

Practice makes perfect! At this station, kids learned how to sort out compostable vs. non-compostable items.

I Love A Clean San Diego has also integrated our newly acquired composting knowledge into some of our education offerings as well! Recently, we partnered with the City of Chula Vista & the Chula Vista Recreation Department to augment their youth after-school program, Empower Hour.  ILACSD educators lead  several hands-on activities during May & June to cover topics such as waste diversion, recycling and composting.  During the composting activities, the kids learned how to sort recyclables from compostable materials, and even got their hands dirty during the compost bin and worm discovery activities. If you’re interested in learning more about our education presentations, please contact our Education Manager, Erika at education@cleansd.org!

CV_AfterSchool_compost (13)

Here’s ILACSD’s Program Assistant, Joseph leading the worm exploration station!

Here are 7 tips to maintaining your vermicompost bin:
1. Worms don’t have lungs, they breathe thru their skin. Fats and oil will coat their skin and they can no longer breathe, so avoid putting fatty or oily foods in your vermicompost bin.
2. Worms don’t like motion, vibration or extreme heat/cold.
3. Your bin should never smell, an odor would likely mean you are over feeding your worms.
4. If you are adding watery food, add some paper as well.
5. Moldy food is ok to add, the bacteria actually helps give the worms a head start on digesting the food.
7. Food scraps are best in smaller pieces.

Are you ready to start composting? Find local resources, such as bins, worms and classes near you at www.WasteFreeSD.org!

Bokashi is another composting method where you can pickle your food waste and thus store for later use in your traditional compost pile. What makes it unique is, unlike traditional composting, dairy, meat and bones can be used with this method. An inoculant, a combination of anaerobic microbes, is used to pickle the food waste and are available for sale online or you can also find online tutorials. Once you get your inoculated grain/paper and a 5gal bucket (or larger!) you are ready to go.

Simply add your food waste to the bucket and some inoculated gain/paper as you go along. After you bucket is full, it will take ten days to two weeks for your pickled food scraps are ready to be added to your traditional compost bin. As you are adding to your bokashi bin, place a plate on top to keep pests away. If you see white mold it is ok, only be concerned if you see green ,red or brown mold. Bokashi workshops are offered by Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, but keep an eye out for them on www.WasteFreeSD.org because they fill up fast! 

Curbing Food Waste by Gleaning

amanda-2-photoshopToday’s blog comes from our Hotline Manager, Amanda, who came across this incredible environmental resource called “Gleaners”. When she first presented the idea of gleaning, much of our staff thought it was a play on words to promote green cleaning solutions, we were wrong. Read on to learn more about this eco-friendly trend!

In California, we’re blessed to have ample fruit trees and great sunny weather to grow fresh food, but did you know that a lot of it goes to waste because it isn’t harvested? Perhaps you have a fruit tree at home and have more lemons or oranges than you know what to do with?  Don’t worry! We have a solution, and it’s gleaners.

glean def

There are a lot of things we glean: information, resources, and in this case, fresh food. Gleaning, performed by gleaners, is the act of collecting excess fresh foods from farms, gardens, farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, state/county fairs, etc. to provide it to those in need.

Why should we Glean?

According to the USDA, an estimated 23 million Americans, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income neighborhoods that are known “food deserts,” where affordable, quality, and nutritious foods are inaccessible. And yet hundreds of thousands of pounds of edible produce is landfilled each year!

gleaning

Local gleaners help collect fresh fruits and vegetables at no-cost! The collected food then goes to local food banks to feed those in need.

Gleaning helps to close the gap, connecting local residents with an abundance of home-grown produce, to people who need it most. This process occurs all around the United States. In San Diego, gleaning has taken a more unique, urban form with a focus on volunteers gleaning excess fruit from residential properties and farms to be donated local food banks.

If you’re in need of help to glean fruit or vegetables from your property, search “gleaners” at www.WasteFreeSD.orgLocal gleaning programs, including Cropswap Carlsbad, and Senior Gleaners of SD County, listed in our recycling database, can both pick up excess produce, as well as offer volunteer opportunities for those looking to donate their time.

Food waste is a serious problem in the US, prompting the EPA to get involved in reducing food waste. They have created a food recovery hierarchy,which helps to promote the best ways to reduce food waste and put excess food to the best use. The diagram below shows that the first priority is reducing the volume of food produced with the second being feeding hungry people with any excess food; gleaners do precisely that. 

fd_recovery_hierarchy_lg

The average american throws away roughly 20 lbs. of food each month while 23 million Americans lack access to nutritious food.

For more information about reducing food waste, please check out the blog Five Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste, written by our environmental educator, Emily. Also, if you see a need in your neighborhood and want to take action or want to learn more about gleaning check out the USDA’s toolkit to help.

As always, be sure to visit our one-stop recycling resource, www.WasteFreeSD.org, to find recycling and environmental resources near you! 

A Rind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Erika-teamToday’s blog comes from our Education Manager, Erika. Earlier this year, Erika took it upon herself to find new ways to reduce the amount of waste she creates each day – she signed up for a composting course! Now that she is on her way to becoming a Master Composter, she wants to share what she has learned in hopes of inspiring you to take a composting course near you! Read on to learn more about how food waste impacts our landfills and how you can become a skilled composter as well! 

A rind is a terrible thing to waste, so do something! Join the Master Composters!

Here at I Love A Clean San Diego, many of my coworkers and I feel strongly about waste reduction. In the past few years, I have seen my own transition from using some disposable items in my life. An example being bringing my stainless steel pint glass to the Adventure Run last week, so that I wouldn’t have to use a disposable plastic cup for that IPA at the end of the race. While I have been able to carry my bamboo cutlery and stainless steel straw around, I noticed that I was still creating quite a bit of waste – food waste. In San Diego, we lead the country in per capita waste, with disposing about 1.3 million pounds in 2012. Of that trash, a 2012-2013 study showed that food represented the most prevalent material composed in our landfill, accounting for 15% of the total waste stream. In residential waste, that percentage increased to 18%. After learning these startling statistics, I realized there is so much more that I can do with regard to waste reduction. So, with waste in my mind, I signed up for a Master Composting class.composting blog - 1 SMW chart - composting blog 2

Hands on learning is always best!

Hands on learning is always best!

Last October, my friend, @girlforaccleanworld, and I joined with a dozen other composting inquirists, skeptics, novices, and enthusiasts to begin our composting journey to potential Mastery. At first, I was quite anxious. I previously had a horrific experience with a vermicompost, resulting in [read quickly] maggots and other vermin. Needless to say, I was apprehensive but determined to further reduce my waste through composting. The great thing about the course is that there is such a great variety in reasons why people compost – from professional development, to reducing waste, to ameliorating compost gone wrong, to education – there were people from all walks of life.
Another great thing about the course is its hands on approach. On the first day, we were already getting our hands dirty, layering greens (food scrapes, grass clippings, etc.) and browns (cardboard, paper, other wood products). Each week, we measured the temperature and moisture of the bin, turned it, and looked for grubs – ok, that might have just been me. I was captivated by how clean everything was and how quickly different items could degrade. While I learned a lot in the class, the take home for me was:
• Anything and everything (natural) will eventually turn to compost, it just is a matter of time.
• You can be active or passive, it will still turn to compost
• Compost does not smell – if it smells, give it a turn, it needs to breath
• Composting doesn’t need a ton of space, especially vermicomposting

Vermicomposting

Since completion, I have been working toward 30 hours community composting service to become an official Master. I have become more conscious of my grocery shopping, as to not buy more than I need, and have been able to help people out with their composting woes. I would highly recommend the class to anyone. For more information visit http://www.thelivingcoast.org/programs/composting-programs/. There is also a 5 week long composting workshop available through the Solana Center that starts on April 11th. For additional information please click here.

Let’s work together to minimize our food waste! Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for helpful tips and tricks about how to reduce waste in your life!

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Photo Credit: @girlforaccleanworld. Thanks for allowing us to use these great photos!

 


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