USDA’s 2012 Sustainability Scorecard showcases the Department’s ongoing commitment to meeting goals that reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions, decrease energy use per square foot, increase renewable energy use, decrease potable water use per square foot, and incorporate sustainable building practices in new and existing buildings.
In 2012, USDA made significant progress in reducing indirect GHG emissions, largely associated with employee travel and commuting, resulting in an 18 percent reduction in indirect GHG emissions. In 2012, USDA consumed nearly 39,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy, which translates to enough green energy to meet more than seven percent of the Department’s electricity use. Read more »
At this very moment, an underappreciated tool for combating climate change may be hiding in your chiller drawer or at the back of your pantry. By keeping that limp carrot or dusty box of pasta out of our nation’s landfills, you can help reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calculates that food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste going to landfills (accounting for over 20% by weight) and that that landfills are the third largest source of methane (16% of national total). By reducing the amount of food we toss into the trash, we can help reduce these potent greenhouse gas emissions.
The benefits do not stop there, however. Read more »
Think big. Think Sear’s Tower big and then multiply by 44.
That is approximately the volume of food that is lost from the U.S. food supply annually at retail food stores, restaurants, and homes combined.
Now think of all the labor, land, water, fertilizer, and other inputs that went into growing that food. It would take far more than a mega-city of skyscrapers to contain it all. Production of wasted food pulls all these resources away from uses that may be more beneficial to society – and it generates impacts on the environment that may endanger the long-run health of the planet. The environmental footprint of food waste starts at agricultural production and extends through to food processing, transportation, retail, preparation and/or disposal, depending on where along the way the food is discarded. Read more »
What would you do with $390? I imagine that “throw it in the garbage” was not on your list of possibilities.
Nevertheless, throwing money in the garbage is what many of us do regularly when it comes to food. In 2008 the amount of uneaten food in homes and restaurants was valued at roughly $390 per U.S. consumer – more than an average month’s worth of food expenditures and almost three times the average monthly Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) benefit. By reducing our food waste, we could put some of this money back in our pockets. Read more »
Did you throw away any food today? If so, you are not alone.
Many of us struggle to store or use up the last of the leftovers or think of something edible to do with those shriveled vegetables at the bottom of the chiller drawer. In fact, in 2010, 133 billion pounds of food in U.S. retail food stores, restaurants, and homes never made it into people’s stomachs. An estimated 30 to 40 percent of the food supply in the U.S. is wasted, in that it never reaches the intended consumers. Unfortunately, the decision to purchase and then discard food has some serious ramifications for the environment and for food security.
Together, we can do something about this. On June 4th – the day before World Environment Day – USDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will launch the U.S. Food Waste Challenge and call on organizations spanning the food supply chain to join the fight against food waste. Together we can help reduce the amount of food that is sent to our landfills and increase the amounts that are recovered to help families in need. Read more »
Real Food Farms used EPA’s Brownfields Program to reclaim 6 acres in downtown Baltimore. Once the land was ready for production, Real Food Farms accessed USDA funds to build a greenhouse. Now, the farm grows food for the neighboring communities. Photo by MD Department of Agriculture
In Waterbury, Connecticut, vacant lots are becoming community greenhouses – growing jobs and growing food. Roanoke, Virginia is planning to build raised beds in empty lots to become community gardens that increase healthy food access. In Missoula, Montana, asbestos abatement is allowing a local food coop to expand its footprint to include a café and community kitchen and to increase their capacity to work with local farmers and schools. Read more »