Facts About Food Waste

Day 262 – Back on Day 216, I wrote about the app, Too Good To Go. The app connects people with perfectly good food that bakeries, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses are trying to sell before being tossed in the trash. The food is offered at a reduced price, giving consumers a great opportunity to rescue food at a discount.

Well, that same app is also a great source of information. The Food Waste Knowledge Hub offers a great deal of information about food waste.

They cover various questions about food waste:

  1. What is food waste?
  2. Where is food wasted?
  3. Why is food wasted?
  4. What food is wasted?
  5. Why is food waste a problem?
  6. Where does food waste go in the end?

By being informed you will discover important information about why food waste needs to be a priority for everyone.

  1. Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted, approximately 1.6 billion tons.
  2. That means within a year, we waste around 51 tons every second.
  3. Up to 40% of all food produced in the US is currently wasted and 83% of this is either wasted in food services such as restaurants and hotels, or at home. Currently, a whopping 63 million tons of food is not recycled or recovered, but instead heads to landfill, is incinerated, or remains unharvested.
  4. Food waste occurs at all stages from farm to fork.
  5. The most wasted type of food is fruit and vegetables. Almost half of all fruits, vegetables, roots and tubers are wasted along the supply chain, while one third of all fish and seafood never make it to our plate.
  6. Up to two-fifths of all fruit and vegetable crops are wasted because they are ‘ugly’.
  7. Our food system, and with it food waste, is the number one contributing factor that drives this threatening change in nature through land use change, pollution, and climate change.
  8. More than 70 billion tons of Green House Gases could be prevented from being released into the atmosphere, if we cut down on food waste.
  9. Together, the world’s top five meat and dairy corporations are now responsible for more annual GHG  emissions than Exxon, Shell or BP.
  10. Currently, in the U.S, a whooping 63 million tons of food is not recycled or recovered, but instead heads to landfill, is incinerated, or remains unharvested.

In order to understand the problem, you need to have the information. Spend a little time educating yourself. Most people don’t understand that food waste is a global issue that has a serious impact on our planet and our overall well-being.

What are you doing to fight the war against food waste?

Tomorrow, sustainable plastic products.

Reducing Recycling Contamination

Day 260 – Our neighbors in Grand Rapids, Michigan, just recently won an award. They earned Resource Recycling Inc.’s 2021 Program of the Year award in the Large City category, which was open to municipalities with 150,000 residents or more.

The City of Grand Rapids teamed with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership to introduce a first-of-its-kind community wide project aimed at improving the quality of materials residents recycle in their curbside carts last fall. The Recycling Racoon Squad helped educate residents, ““Know It Before You Throw It”. The effort promotes best practices and emphasizes that recycling materials saves energy, reduces water use, decreases greenhouse gases, conserves resources, and translates into local jobs. 

City crews collected 7,170 tons of recyclables from more than 50,500 households in the most recent program year. In its submission materials to the awards program, Grand Rapids reported a contamination rate of 7.4 percent. The percentage is far lower than what’s being seen in many local programs in the U.S., where contamination rates above 20 percent are common. 

Grand Rapids program leaders work closely with the nearby Kent County materials recovery facility (MRF) to educate residents and enforce strict anti-contamination controls. Educational efforts include removing carts after high levels of trash are found in recycling at a residence three times and providing “Recycling 101” educational materials before residents can get their carts back.

Grand Rapids also implemented a “Feet on the Street” anti-contamination tagging program in the fall of 2020, inspecting recycling setouts at all 50,540 serviced households over the course of eight weeks. That effort reduced contamination in the local recycling stream by 37 percent, according to program leaders.

So the question is, could this work in other cities?

It seems like it all comes down to education and of course having people that care about the planet. Without those two things, reducing recycling contamination will continue to be an unreachable goal.

Keep up the good work Grand Rapids! You are showing the country and the world that coming together as a community to accomplish an important goal that helps benefit people and the planet is achievable.

Tomorrow, the story of stuff.

Multifamily Recycling Resources

Day 256 – Recycling in a multifamily building is not always an easy task. More times than not there is confusion as to whose responsibility it is to implement a recycling program. Is it the building owner, the building manager, the building association (if one exists) or is it the individual tenant to find ways to recycle?

Thankfully, The Recycling Partnership has created customized collateral to help educate about what’s accepted in your community’s multifamily recycling program.

The Partnership’s Multifamily Recycling Guide and Community Toolkit features free customizable resources and templates for communities to use in their outreach to multifamily property owners, managers, and residents.

Sign up for free to access the customizable resources, which include:

  • Infocards
  • Postcard
  • Full-page flyer
  • Door hanger
  • Recycling container illustration set

The included messaging and resources have been tailored to residents and include information on how to use common area recycling locations, door-step collection and/or in-home recycling bin, if provided, according to various multifamily property recycling setups.

Click HERE to get started.

Tomorrow, lost golf balls finding a new home.

Recycling Car Seats

Day 254 – On average, one child will go through three car seats. That ends up being a lot of car seats that need disposal. Over 12 million car seats are disposed of each year in the U.S.

Earth911 has taken the mystery out of recycling your car seat.

Reasons why you would need to dispose of a car seat:

  • The car seat has been recalled for safety reasons.
  • Children have outgrown their car seats.
  • The car seat has expired.
  • The car seat has been in an accident.

If a car seat hasn’t been recalled, expired, or been in an accident and is still in good shape, donating it to someone who can use it is the best choice. The website safeconvertiblecarseats.com has a list of organizations in all 50 states that accept used, non-expired car seats for donation. The listed organizations include children’s hospitals, shelters for families in crisis, and agencies supporting foster families.

Some retailers will take your car seat and recycle it. Target held a two-week car seat recycling event in April 2021. Hopefully, they will continue the program in 2022.

One mail-in option is Clek’s car seat recycling program. They accept any brand of car seat for recycling for a fee. The fees range from roughly $35-50 per car seat. They do offer 10% off of a future purchase of their products. If you’re going to buy one of their car seats anyway, that discount can offset the recycling fee.

Another mail-in option, if you have a Century brand car seat, is TerraCycle’s Century Baby Gear Recycling Program. Although this program is free of charge, only Century brand car seats are eligible.

When your child outgrows their car seat, consider keeping it out of the landfill by looking into one of these many options.

Tomorrow, innovative solutions to plastic pollution.

Free Stuff at Your Local Household Hazardous Waste Facility

Day 253 – Most of us are familiar with what items our local household hazardous waste facility will accept. Everything from household chemicals, such as bleach, harsh cleaning materials and drain cleaners to motor oil, gasoline and auto fluids. Most facilities will also accept electronics like computers, televisions and printers.

For a complete list of acceptable items at Chicago’s Household Hazardous Waste Facility click HERE.

Chicago’s HHW facility is located at 1150 N. North Branch Street.

During business hours, an attendant is outside, ready to help unload your vehicle and accept your materials.  Materials should not be left outside the facility unattended.  Therefore, please do not drop off any items outside of scheduled business hours:

Tuesdays 7 am – 12 pm

Thursdays 2 pm – 7 pm

The first Saturday of every month 8 am – 3 pm

Something you might not know is that there are free items at your local HHW facility. At Chicago’s HHW there are useable paints, stains and other cleaners available for free at the facility’s material exchange room. Please ask a staff person to enter the exchange room, which is open during regular hours of operation. Chicagoans are welcome to take materials without dropping off any of their own.  

So, the next time your in need of these items consider dropping by your local HHW and check out what they may have to offer for free.

Tomorrow, recycling car seats.

There is Trash Everywhere! Even at 29,031 feet

Day 251 – It’s a sad reality, but people continue to throw garbage to the ground and waste out car windows and into our waterways. I don’t think anyone can walk anywhere without finding trash where it doesn’t belong. Even atop Mt. Everest, there is trash.

On average, 800 people attempt to climb Mount Everest every year. With each of those climbers comes a great deal of gear and in turn a lot of waste. Over time it all piles up and this majestic mountain turns it into one large trash can.

Nepalese climbers removed 2.2 tons of garbage from Mount Everest when tourists were away due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cleaning expedition was lead by activist and mountaineer Dawa Steven Sherpa and took 47 days to complete. The climbers braved harsh conditions and managed to clean the eight highest mountains in Nepal.

So, the next time you find trash where it doesn’t belong, think about those Nepalese climbers and what they endured to help clean the planet. It will probably make that effort of bending over to pick up that trash and place it in the nearest garbage can, not feel like a huge inconvenience.

Tomorrow, donating medical supplies.

Green Circle Salons: Creating Beauty, Not Waste

Day 248Green Circle Salons is a Certified B Corporation and they offer to help salons go green.

They provide services that will help salons do the following:

  1. Recycle and repurpose up to 95% of your salon’s beauty waste including hair clippings, used foils, color tubes, excess hair color and more.
  2. 84% of salon guests care about a salon’s environmental impact. Grow your business while being an industry leader and making a difference.
  3. Get help setting up a simple revenue-building program that supports environmental sustainability as well as financial sustainability.
  4. Use additional revenue to invest in environmentally friendly technologies, which conserves energy, reduces waste, and saves you more money.

You may not think about the waste produced by hair salons, but it is substantial.

  1. 63,000 pounds of hair gets thrown away every day.
  2. Over 42,000 pounds of excess hair color, lightener and toner is thrown away every day. When rinsed down the drain, it can find its way back into our drinking water and soil.
  3. Over 110,000 pounds of used metal, including hair foils, is thrown away every day in salons in North America.
  4. Single use items – like nail files, waxing strips and cotton swabs – make up a large portion of beauty waste that ends up in our landfills.
  5. More than half the waste thrown away in salons is paper and plastic. If not properly recycled, these items clutter our landfills.

Since 2009, Green Circle Salons have been able to keep close to 8 million pounds of beauty waste from entering the landfill.

To find a salon that is putting the environment first, click HERE.

Tomorrow, a sustainability expo coming your way.

Green Disk: Recycling Your Techno Trash

Day 245 – Today, you can stream pretty much anything. Music, movies, TV shows, video games and anything else you can think of, are ready to go without the need for disks or tapes. So, what can we do with all that stuff that once lined the shelves of your media cabinet? There are some places that will take your old movies and CDs as a donation. There are even places that might even pay you. However, don’t expect to get rich from your collection. The need and want for these items is rapidly decreasing. As for your burned CDs or VHS tapes, no one wants those and throwing them out should not be an option.

Green Disk offers recycling services for your techno trash. Just a few of the items that Green Disk will accept, includes:

  1. CDs, CD-Rs, CD-RWs and cases
  2. DVDs and cases
  3. Blu-ray and cases
  4. 3.5″ and 5.25″ floppy disks
  5. Zip and Jazz disks
  6. VHS
  7. Audio cassette tapes
  8. DAT, DLT, Beta and Digibeta

To see the complete list of accepted items, click HERE.

Green Disk offers a variety of ways to recycle your techno trash through numerous container options. Choose the size that fits your needs.

As technology advances and we find ourselves with items that we no longer need, it is our responsibility to try to find ways to dispose of items in an environmentally friendly way. At times there is a cost, but the cost to the planet is far greater if we don’t take proper action.

Tomorrow, old oyster shells being put to good use.

Do You Recycle? Challenge

Day 244 – A new program just started in Atlanta, Georgia, to try to encourage more people to recycle.

“Atlanta’s Do You Recycle? Challenge is engaging 100 multifamily buildings citywide to provide recycling training and education to residents over the next 12 months, culminating in a public recognition event for the properties with the highest achievements in improving recycling participation and reducing the amount trash or nonrecyclables in the recycling.”recyclingpartnership.org

So why is Atlanta offering this challenge?

In the US, every year 22 million tons of household recyclables go to landfills, become litter, and pollute our waters. While packaging plays a key role in keeping products safe and transportable, it too often is discarded when it could be used again. Recycling protects resources from depletion, allows communities to manage the amount of trash they have to handle, and protects the environment by saving water and greenhouse gases.” – recyclingpartnership.org

The program is planned to run three years and hopes to include more multifamily homes. They hope their efforts will keep more recyclables out of landfills.

Live Thrive, an Atlanta-based recycling non-profit organization, will serve as the community hub for the Do You Recycle? Challenge. Last year Live Thrive’s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials (CHaRM) diverted 1370 tons of items from the landfill.

Participating properties will receive:

– Technical assistance
– Education materials
– Signage
– Public recognition
– An improved sustainability amenity

If Atlanta can prove that such a program can be successful in diverting recyclable material from to the landfill, then there is no reason why it should not be pushed out to cities around the country. Would you be ready for the challenge?

Tomorrow, an option to recycle your old CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes.

Battery Solutions: Making battery recycling easy

Day 243 – On Day 49, I spent some time writing about batteries and the difficulty in recycling them. After the EPA deemed them safe to throw away, anyone willing to take them to get recycled stop offering the free service. Now you need to pay a fee. I encourage everyone to use rechargeable batteries. They can be used 1,000 times and can be recycled easily and for free.

For those that feel the need to continue using alkaline batteries, then you should consider recycling them responsibly. Battery Solutions will do the job for a fee. They have various recycling kits to fit various needs.

We are ready to handle any volume, any size, any chemistry, any battery ever made. – Battery Solutions

They have responsibly recycled 178,934,861 batteries, have 6,956 partners and service 3 countries.

Battery Solutions has built their business on sustainability.

  1. Recycling – We are committed to recycling every possible material from every battery.
  2. Conservation – Partnering with local groups in southeast Michigan, we have contributed hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle battery shells to be turned into wildlife habitats.
  3. Device Renewal – We restore broken and unwanted cell phones and tablets back into usable tech.
  4. Education – We offer tours and education programs on site at our facilities, working with EGLE (The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy) as well as smaller local groups to promote battery recycling.
  5. Global Connections – To help secure the future for these young recyclers, we are committed to supporting recycling at all levels. Outside of our direct community involvement, we are also supporters of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Stop throwing recyclable material in the trash. Battery Solutions can help you with that goal.

Tomorrow, a recycle challenge.