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  • Writer's pictureJenna Granger

SWEP's Sustainability Clubs Take on Food Waste

This year SWEP's Green Team and EcoAction clubs have been spending a lot of time learning about food waste. Why is food waste such an important topic?

  • 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.

Did you catch that last part? Read that last bullet again.

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.

Lots of edible food being wasted + hungry people = bad problem

Our sustainability clubs learned how food waste starts at the farm and follows food all the way through the supply chain and includes our plates and trash cans at home. The students are now aware that companies and farmers often throw away ugly/imperfect foods and how best buy dates are arbitrarily set by food companies and 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 were inspired 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. Watch this mixtape to learn what solutions the students came up with.

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.

Food being wasted + hungry people + engaged organizations & education = less hungry people & less food waste

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 want to learn more about composting at home check out our SWEP Snippet: Compost at Home. Or 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!

To learn more about food waste problems and solutions view these Green Tip of the Week messages created by our sustainability club members.

Thank you to TTUSD, Keep Truckee Green, EpicPromise, Boreal/Woodward, and TDPUD for supporting our sustainability clubs.

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