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Sustainability Council targets needless household food waste in 2017

Article adapted from the Steamboat Today article by Tom Ross

When the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council prepares a hearty soup for the community in mid 2017, it promises to be instructional as well as flavorful, as it makes an important point about food waste.

Anne Mudgett, YVSC’s Program and Development Director, said Dec. 7 during the group’s monthly meeting that the nonprofit, whose program runs the gamut from alternative energy to planting trees, will place a major emphasis in 2017 on food waste and keeping viable food out of landfills, with a campaign that launches Jan. 24.

Serving a soup made from produce that isn’t fresh, but still nutritious, will point out some of the community’s wasteful kitchen habits, she predicted.

Composting is good and so is diverting food scraps to livestock. But next year’s effort will emphasize avoiding the waste to begin with. It’s less about coffee grounds that shouldn’t go into the landfill, Mudgett said, and more about the natural resources squandered when food goes to waste.

“We want food to go to people (for consumption) first,” Mudgett said. “Think about the water and energy that goes into food production.”

In order to raise awareness in the community, YVSC will recruit volunteer families willing to keep track of the food from their refrigerators and kitchen cupboards that is never consumed — from wilted lettuce to lunch meat that’s lost its appeal — by setting it aside in a bucket they will be provided. The idea is that by carrying out that task they’ll fully understand how much food their household wastes. For more information on food waste or to be involved in the 2017 campaign, come to the January 24 Talking Green on food waste at Creekside 5:30-7 p.m.

On other fronts, YVSC’s plans for 2017 include:

• Hosting the nonprofit’s annual awards meeting at 11:30 a.m. January 11 in Centennial Hall, 124 Tenth St.

• Closely monitoring Routt County’s efforts to make the switch from the 2009 International Residential Building Code to the 2015 version, and the potential to require that all new homes here be built to be economical over the long haul thanks to energy-saving qualities.

• Helping a dozen households with modest annual income to retrofit their homes with several thousand dollars worth of energy saving windows, or appliances for example, through the Colorado Affordable Residential Energy program (CARE). YVSC’s Energy Outreach Coordinator, Suzie Romig, reports seven households have been identified and five more are being sought. To be eligible, their primary home heating must be through Atmos Energy. The contact e-mail for interested households is suzie@yvsc.org.

• Sponsoring ReTree 2017, which will include re-visiting projects from previous years to document survival rates. The trees will be digitally mapped to help assess what species of trees should be planted in the future.