SWEP’s sustainability clubs take on food waste
SWEP’s Green Team and EcoAction clubs have been taking on one of the lesser known but biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions: food waste. Often when we think of making sustainable changes in our life we think of driving less, using less plastic, recycling — and while all of these changes are good to make, food waste is actually a much worse problem. Why is it so bad? Not only is it worse for our environment than cars, but edible food is being thrown away while too many people in our country and our community are food insecure. Food insecurity became significantly worse during COVID. For example, Sierra Community House’s (our local food distributor to food insecure families) food distribution has increased by 216% since COVID started.
FOOD WASTE FACTS
- 40% of food produced in the USA is thrown away.
- When food ends up in the landfill it produces methane which is a greenhouse gas that is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
- Food waste contributes more to climate change than transportation, overpopulation, trash and deforestation, respectively.
Our sustainability clubs learned how food waste starts at the farm and follows food all the way through the supply chain to include our plates and trash cans at home. The students were aghast to learn that companies and farmers often throw away ugly/imperfect foods and how best buy dates often don’t tell us if food is still edible, resulting in a lot of food being thrown into the landfills.
While some food waste is happening at the farm and at grocery stores, students also became aware that most of the food waste happens at the home and restaurants. This means we are all to blame, but also means we can all make real change. Students immediately started to work on solutions to reduce food waste in their own homes and to create messaging to inspire others to make small, but impactful changes in their homes as well.
Students also learned about all the food saving efforts that are happening in the Tahoe Truckee area through hearing from guest speakers from the Town of Truckee and Sierra Community House. These organizations are working together to save produce, meat, dairy, bread and snacks from our local grocery stores to redistribute to people that are hungry in our community.
Composting is the recycling of food waste, and students learned that composting is an important last step in solving the food waste problem. The local myth that we can’t compost in Tahoe was dispelled. The best way to compost in Tahoe is inside and away from wildlife with a vermacompost/ worm hotel. If you live in Truckee, you can collect your food waste and drop it off in the green dumpster behind the Town of Truckee building by the airport to be composted.
Visit http://www.4swep.org for more info on the project.
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