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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ecofriendly Economics & Harsh Facts: Food Waste

Thank you for your understanding and patience about Monday's postponement. Again, please excuse the inconsistent formatting... I have sent a complaint to Blogger about that. 

Harsh Facts of the Week

These harsh facts will be part of a theme I have decided to focus on this week: food waste. I thought the topic of food waste would go along nicely with this week's Green Challenge, which takes some of your food waste and recycles it into rich, healthy soil. I pulled some of the facts from a web page entitled: "Americans go hungry in a land of massive food waste," which is starkly and sadly true. Stay tuned for Friday's "Suggested Reading" post, which will actually feature a video instead of a book: a TED Talk by Tristram Stuart on the topic of food waste. Stuart is mentioned in today's Harsh Facts.

Roughly one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year.

The average American wastes 209-254 pounds of edible food each year, while 17.2 million American households in 2010 were deemed “food insecure,” meaning it was difficult to provide food for everyone in the family. About 46 million Americans, or one in every seven people, relied on food stamps that same year. 

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated that the consumer level food waste in industrialized countries is almost as high as the total net food production of Sub-Saharan Africa (222 million tons of food waste as compared to 230 million tons of net food production, respectively).

Tristram Stuart visited British farms to understand how quality standards affect food waste, including M.H. Poskitt Carrots. In total, 25-30% of all carrots handled by M.H. Poskitt Carrots were out-graded. About half of these were rejected due to aesthetic defects (i.e., wrong shape or size, not orange enough, broken, having a cleft or blemish).

Do you waste 209-254 pounds of food each year? Don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach; start watching your food proportions. If you pile too much on your plate, chances are a lot of it will end up in the trash.


Ecofriendly Economics

Project 7 

Picture courtesy of:

Project 7 is an awesome new company with a fantastic mission. They sell typical products that we all use, such as bottled water, gum (sugar-free), mints, coffee (organic and fair trade!!), clothing, and accessories, but here’s the catch: each of their products comes in seven different varieties, inspired by the seven deadly sins. They are: Heal (the sick), Save (the earth), House (the homeless), Feed (the hungry), Quench (the thirsty), Teach (them well), and Hope (for peace). Depending on which variety you choose, that’s the cause your money goes to. For those of you looking to donate to the planet, your purchase helps Project 7 plant fruit trees back into the earth. According to their statistics, Save products appear to be the most successful. Project 7’s Save webpage claims that more than one acre of rainforest is lost every second.

            Here are the others: One Heal product goes toward paying for the cost of someone’s medication for malaria. One House product provides shelter, food, education, and health care for one day for an orphan. One Feed product supports seven meals in American communities. One Quench product provides clean water for someone who needs it for a whole year. One Teach product provides a week of schooling for a child in Africa. Finally, one Hope product supports a day of counseling for a child of war.

            Awesomely enough, Project 7 products have become very accessible. They are sold in Wal-Marts, Targets, and 7-Elevens. The Wal-Mart in my area consistently sells Project 7 gum. You can find a store with Project 7 merchandise near you here: Clothing and accessories are more readily found on the Project 7 website than in stores.
            To visit the other six pages, find all of the retail stores that sell Project 7 products, see running numbers of how much good the company has done so far, and to learn more about the company in general, go to their website:  

Cloth Bags
This is another simple green transition that many people, including my mom, are already doing and have been doing for a while. Instead of using plastic bags at the conclusion of every grocery trip, you can buy durable, capacious cloth bags. I have yet to see a grocery store that doesn’t sell them since they became popular, and they’re fairly cheap. They go for anywhere between pocket change and two dollars. I got the ones I keep in my car for free.  
In my area, store owners and employees don’t noticeably encourage cloth over plastic, but that’s not true for all places. Los Angeles and many other major American cities have taken cloth bags one step further, banning plastic bags from checkouts entirely. Bangladesh banned plastic bags in 2002 because they clogged storm drains and caused flooding. China did the same in 2008, eliminating 40 billion bags annually and saving 11.7 million barrels of oil needed to make them. Italy has also joined the no plastic bags bandwagon. Critics of plastic bag bans argue that it takes more energy to create cloth bags than plastic ones. However, ban supporters counter that the energy use doesn’t matter, since it’s the afterlife of the plastic bag that matters most. They blow out of landfills and kill many thousands of marine and land animals that ingest them. Furthermore, plastic bags are not biodegradable, so they just build up in landfills. Not to mention, plastic bags often go to the landfill after just a handful of uses, whereas cloth bags are sturdy, heavy duty, and reused over and over again. Cloth bags undeniably reduce our waste output. Source:
The trick about buying reusable cloth shopping bags is that once you buy them, you need to remember to use them! Mom has been using them for more than four years, and she still forgets them at home and in her car before going into the grocery store. If you’ve committed yourself to rejecting plastic bags,  it can become costly if you forget your bags each trip and have to re-buy them, not to mention you’ll eventually have a massive stock pile of cloth bags, which ruins the point of reduce, reuse, and recycle. To help, my mom leaves them in her car, both in the trunk and the back seat. The following site recommends brightly colored bags, which will catch your attention, and writing "bring reusable bags" at the top of your grocery lists:

Picture courtesy of

Many shopping centers, like my local Wal-Mart, now have plastic bag recycling programs, which include a bin at the front of the store where you can turn in your used plastic bags. If you make the switch to cloth bags, make sure you recycle your plastic bags! 
Picture courtesy of: Me
Reusable Cupcake Liners

Remember last week's Ecofriendly Economics post, which included reusable cupcake liners? My set of twelve that I ordered from my cousin's fundraiser came in, along with my WWF t-shirt!
Picture courtesy of: Me

Check out last week's Ecofriendly Economics post to see why reusable cupcake liners can help you reduce your waste output. It's pretty self-explanatory. There are, however, some important tips for cooking with silicon cupcake liners you should look at before you use them!  

Animal of the Month Update

Picture courtesy of: 

The Golden Capped Fruit Bat is named after the golden patch of hair on the top of its head. You probably could have figured that out for yourself, though! The ‘golden cap’, paired with an orange-yellow region on the back of the neck, contrasts with the brown-black fur on other parts of the head and the red-brown fur on the back. The fur on the underside of the body is black with silver-tipped hair.

The Golden-Capped Fruit Bat’s breeding season usually occurs between the drier months of April and May. Females usually produce no more than one young each year.

The Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project implemented a program in 2003 for the protection of the Golden-Capped Fruit Bat on the small island of Boracay, off the northwest corner of Panay. The project’s achievements included nearly eliminating all hunting of the local colony. Along with conservation efforts in the wild, captive breeding may become necessary to ensure the long-term survival of our Pilipino friend.
Learn more about the Philippine Endemic Species Conservation Project:

Thank you for reading! Come back tomorrow at 6pm for Wednesday's "Recycling Project for Kids" post! Be sure to check out last week's recycling project, if you haven't already!

Mentioned in this post:

  • TED Talks
  • Organic
  • Fair Trade
  • Seven deadly sins
  • WWF (World Wildlife Fund)

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