Posts tagged ‘compost’

Reducing Your Food Waste

Love_Food_Hate_Waste_logoWhat if you could reduce your food waste in the kitchen and save money while doing it? When shopping for groceries we can be swayed by merely a ten cent price difference in brands, but in the kitchen we so often throw our money away unknowingly. Although you won’t get a fine for tossing your food scraps in the garbage like in Seattle, you can take steps to starve the landfill while swelling your wallet.

Studies from the USDA in 2010 reveal that 31% of the retail and consumer food supply went uneaten. That’s nearly 133 billion pounds of food waste, equating to $161 billion dollars lost! These are some large numbers to fully comprehend their magnitude, but on a smaller level, about 20 pounds of food per person per month gets wasted.

If these facts seem alarming to you, we are going to give you a few simple tips and tricks on how to reduce food waste in your kitchen and save some money too!

Plan Meals Ahead. Creating a list for weekly meals allows you to determine which ingredients you need and use up ingredients you already have. If you arrive at the grocery store with a plan, you can use your time more efficiently and be confident that the ingredients you buy will be used.

Sell-By Dates. Speaking of food going bad, sell-by dates can bring some confusion and deception. These dates are not monitored by the FDA and are merely a recommendation by the producer for when the product will be at peak quality. In most cases, if your food still looks and smells fresh you don’t need to toss it right away. Save yourself some money and waste by giving those foods a few extra days.

Reusing Food Scraps. Food scraps can be reused in countless different ways. You can use meat scraps for your next soup stock, carrot tops for a yummy pesto, or stale bread for a crunchy bread crumb crust. Use the power of the internet and turn your next pile of food scraps into a gourmet dinner!

Composting. Maybe repurposing food scraps is not the thing for you. Creating a compost can greatly decrease your food waste! Whether you have a large garden space or just a corner in your kitchen to fit a bucket, your food scraps have many other options than the landfill.

Here are some more resources to get you started in reusing your food scraps, composting at home, and reducing your overall food waste.

Image: http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au

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March 23, 2015 at 11:20 am Leave a comment

Madison-based Business Leading the Way

ImagePhoto by M.P. King- State Journal

The Madison-based headquarters for American Family Insurance is set to become the first major private employer in Dane County to routinely divert food-related waste from the landfill.  Very soon their food-prep scraps and used paper towels will be composted offsite. 

Maggie Layden was an intern with the company last year when she came up with the idea.  She was hired permanently in January and now leads the composting program.  This change is part of the company’s “zero-waste initiative” which features other sustainability goals established earlier this year.

For now, American Family Insurance’s housekeeping vendor will be responsible for moving the organic waste from the kitchen to the compactor.  Eventually employees will be asked to participate in a more hands-on way by adding their food scraps to separate collection containers within the café area as well. 

American Family estimates they will generate around 40 to 50 pounds of food waste, along with 80 to 100 pounds in paper towels each week.  This is on the low end compared to some other local businesses also participating in the pilot program.

While establishing programs for businesses, the City of Madison has also been working on a pilot program for curbside collection of organic waste for residential areas.  These projects are being led by George Dreckmann, the city’s recycling coordinator.  His goal is to take the organics recycling pilot program citywide to all businesses and residents by 2016. 

Read more: http://host.madison.com/business/american-family-insurance-leading-way-in-local-private-sector-on/article_f95842cf-02cf-5964-a3fa-ae11ae6c7520.html#ixzz2c4Tcluvl

August 16, 2013 at 9:03 am Leave a comment

Environmental Health Report Card gives mixed grades

This university town is probably full of “A” students. But we’ve learned that we still have a ways to go to get a better GPA on our environmental health in Dane County.

Every two years the Madison and Dane County Environmental Health Report Card is issued, telling us where we’ve improved and where we have regressed in terms of our air and water quality, recycling, alternative energy, and vehicle travel.

The bad news first: water quality and water conservation have both declined. That means more phosphorus in our lovely lakes and more beach closures, and lower groundwater levels. FYI: Groundwater provides 70% of Wisconsin residents with water.

The bad news second: And, while there was a small increase in recycled material, there was also an increase in the amount of waste produced and sent to the landfill.

The great news: Don’t despair! There is a LOT we can do to make this better.

The also great news: EnAct offers loads of tips that people can use to reduce their water use and their waste production. Our “EnAct: Steps to Greener Living” book offers chapters on saving water and wasting less that you can download here to take action in your own home. Or start an EnAct team with your neighbors or friends and talk about why this stuff matters right here in our backyard!

Want to do something right now? Here are a few ideas:

Water

  • Only run full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher, and use them in off-peak times (middle of the day or after 7 p.m.)
  • Don’t flush medicines or over-the-counter drugs down your drain OR throw them in your garbage. Check with your doctor’s office or pharmacy about medical waste drop-off days.
  • Try using non-toxic alternatives to household chemical cleaners. Commit to trying one new natural product this month. And a second one next month. And so on…
  • Install a faucet aerator in your kitchen; they cost about $1 and can save 3 gallons of water per day per faucet.
  • Keep your leaves out of the gutters and out of the lakes. Use them as mulch on your flowerbeds.

Waste

  • If you are not curbside recycling everything you can, start now! Here’s a list of what is recyclable in Madison.
  • Remove your name from junkmail lists at DirectMail.com
  • Donate or sell items rather than throwing them away. Try Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Stores, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, or Freecycle.
  • Buy at least one post-consumer recycled-content product that you use on a regular basis, like office paper, or that’s a one-time purchase, like fleece clothing made from recycled soda bottles and other plastics.
  • Buy and manage the food in your house to reduce spoilage and waste and to save money. Try not to buy more food than you are certain you family can eat before it goes bad.
  • Try composting. It’s a lot easier than it sounds.
  • When eating out, bring a reusable container for your leftovers rather. Trust me, no one minds if you do this (even my husband realized it was silly to be embarrassed when I whip my trusty Tupperware out of my purse)!

So we got a few Bs and Cs. That’s okay. We can still make the next report card something we’d be proud to show to our grandchildren.

Be green. Have fun.

Maria

December 1, 2009 at 10:08 am 1 comment

Halloween Need Not Be Environmentally Frightful

From composting pumpkins to reusing costumes, Halloween does not have to be environmentally horrifying!

Halloween can be very fun and spooky, but the effects on the environment can be scary. From the individually wrapped candies to cheap decorations that get tossed, the waste nationwide quickly adds up. Choose instead to reuse a costume, or make one from materials you already have to save some money.  The Nature Conservancy offers tips on how to go green while breaking out the orange and black, in addition to tips on how to reduce waste (and other ideas) from suite101.com. You can also learn about sustainably made chocolates and other candies from these sites.

A beloved staple of autumn and Halloween is the pumpkin. City of Madison Streets and Recycling has a handful of drop-off sites so your pumpkins can be composted, or you can learn how to compost them at home.

Hoping fall is treating you well,
Melissa

October 28, 2009 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

Mulch. It Matters.

What to do with the falling leaves? The best (and the easiest) option is to keep those leaves and their yummy nutrients in your yard. Say it with me: Mulch! It matters more than you might realize.

Only about half of Wisconsin residents compost their yard waste. They are clearly not as lazy as I am…who can be bothered to rake everything and move it all to the front of the yard for pick up?

The mulch (!) easier option is to rake smaller piles into the places in the yard that need warmth, protection, and nutrients. Into the flowerbeds! Under the bushes! In the herb pots! In my compost bin! Every place gets a pile of leaves.

How much does mulch matter? One-quarter of the U.S. waste stream is food and yard waste. Despite being easily compostable, these materials often go to landfills, which costs our taxpayers money and eventually adds to greenhouse gas emissions.

Worse still, if leaves are brushed into the streets, they can be washed into our lakes where the nutrients contribute to algae growth. And no one wants another summer of blue-green algae keeping us out of Lakes Monona and Mendota, now do we?

Be green. Have fun.
Maria

October 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm Leave a comment


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