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Wasting food wastes everything

Article adapted from Steamboat Pilot
Written by Cameron Hawkins, YVSC

Did you know an average family throws 40 percent of its food away, wasting approximately $1,500 every year? What if you could buy only what you need at the grocery store, save money and have less food waste?

This year, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council is launching a campaign to raise awareness about food waste and help community members reduce wasted food.

There are many reasons to reduce food waste. Not only does food waste target our wallets, but it also harms the environment. According to the EPA, 20 percent of waste that goes to the landfill is food. This rotting food releases methane, a powerful short-term greenhouse gas that is 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide through a 20-year period.

YVSC is partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency on a local food waste challenge, “Food Too Good to Waste,” to raise awareness of wasted food and change habits in our community to feed people, not the landfill.

As part of the challenge, YVSC is recruiting families to participate in a pilot program that will track and reduce household food waste. A food waste collection bucket will be provided to each family, along with weekly tips, tools and resources for waste reduction. The challenge will last six weeks, from Feb. 27 through April 10, and will culminate with a family-friendly celebration April 18.

Though composting is a great outlet for food waste, this challenge will focus on preventing food waste in the first place. By making small shifts in shopping, storing and preparing food, families can toss less, eat well, simplify their lives, save money and keep the valuable resources used to produce and distribute food from going to waste. Families that sign up for the Food Waste Challenge will receive tips and resources to do just this.

YVSC’s Talking Green, slated from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, will discuss anaerobic digestion, a process whereby methane is captured from decomposing food waste and combusted to generate electricity and heat or processed into renewable energy and transportation fuels.

To learn more about the Food Too Good To Waste campaign or sign-up, email cameron@yvsc.org or visit yvsc.org/waste-diversion/food-waste. If you have already signed up for the challenge, join YVSC’s Food Too Good to Waste Challenge Facebook group, where you can ask questions, share successes and difficulties and find useful resources.

Cameron Hawkins is the Waste Diversion Director with Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.