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Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

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Solutions to the Food Waste Fight


Food Waste Challenge –Launched 2 years ago

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is my go to source for what is officially happening here, and their website has a wealth of information. I particularly found the Food Waste Challenge launched in 2013 interesting, as well as the USDA’s Commitments and Deliverables through 2014. The Food Waste Challenge is a joint effort between the USDA and the EPA to call people along the food chain to help reduce, recover, and recycle (compost) more food so that it isn’t wasted, but instead used to its fullest potential. The specifics of the goal include 400 participants by 2015, and 1000 by 2020. Participants aren’t individuals, but schools, religious groups, businesses, or local government branches. Membership however is currently at 4,024, including 113 universities. Wow.

As part of this challenge there are also federal marketing orders that allow donations or alternate uses of fresh produce that don’t meet the federal marketing order requirements. These orders include crops of citrus fruits, avocados, kiwis, cherries, olives, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and dates. Since the launch of this program there have been fewer reports on food waste statistics, so we’ll see how effective it is. For tips and resources on how you can get involved, check out their Frequently Asked Questions page. Continue reading

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Food Waste Coming into the Limelight –Highlights from John Oliver


The issue of food waste is not just one here in Seattle—it’s a nationwide issue that starts with the way we produce food and only becomes more of a problem as food finds its way to consumers. John Oliver recently dedicated a segment of his show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver to this growing problem (Warning: It’s John Oliver, so be prepared for your facts to come served with a sprinkling of obscenity and a hearty side portion of dark humor). This caught the attention of many media sites, which is great news! The more people who become aware of this problem, the more we can do to change it. Here are some of the highlights of his 17 minute segment.

The Stats

In 2012, the Natural Resources Defense Council reported “40% of the food in the United States today goes uneaten.” The USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) Economic Research Service 2010 data puts the national percentage at a more conservative 31%. Roughly translated, this means that a third of all the food produced in America is wasted.

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Food Waste in a landfill in California

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3 tips from Zero Waste “Gurus”


What is Zero Waste?

Zero Waste is a philosophy of reduction and recycling that leads to the production of no (or very little) garbage. It is a way of living that changes how much garbage you produce, but doesn’t have to change everything about you. You can still be yourself, but a more resourceful version of yourself that is kinder to the planet and your wallet. There’s a graphic that I think is really helpful in explaining what zero waste is all about that I’ve pulled from our department’s main website.
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The top portion is a traditional waste stream that puts most items directly into the landfill while using lots of natural resources and energy to get them there.

The second graphic however, is a cycle that continues to reuse the same resources over and over again, with very little or nothing headed to the landfill. This cycle not only uses fewer natural resources, but also saves energy in production through reusing materials many times before recycling. Using recycled materials also reduces energy and cost for manufacturers. Continue reading


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S.P.A.C.E., Summer Veggies and the Benefits of Gardening


S.P.A.C.E. stands for Seattle Pacific Agriculture for the Community and Environment, and is a club on campus that stewards over the community garden for SPU. That garden is located on 4th Ave. W. behind the Dravus Lot, and is a great place to get involved over the summer. From my experience very few people I’ve talked to on campus even know that it exists, and that’s why I’m writing about it!DSCN1009

This garden I have visited a few times, but have yet to put much work into. I have contacted the club leaders and will start watering the plants this week. Summer is a great season for plants to soak up the sun here in Seattle, and there are many fruits and veggies that thrive in the warm weather that we’ve been having with the proper care and watering. I’m going to outline a few below, and use this research to help me narrow down which ones to plant in addition to the ones already growing in our garden. Continue reading


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Summer start up!


As the summer weeks are now in full swing, and the first official day of summer is coming up our campus is implementing compost! We’ll start placing bins in office buildings, with the residence halls to follow. The bin in our office This is the bin in our Facilities office that is right at home next to our recycling.

Our warehouse is filled with bins eagerly awaiting deployment, but in need of compostable bags to go with. Some bins will go out today, and others around campus have been re-labeled for composting capacity, in common spaces like the lobby of Demaray Hall and near Common Grounds in Weter.
Lg Compost BinsThese bins are part of the campus implementation of the city ordinance that started January 1st of this year that prohibits compostable or recyclable items from being disposed of as garbage. In addition to the many small bins on campus inside the buildings being added, there are 8 new pick up locations for all of our food waste to go.

Other bins have been ordered to increase recycling on campus and will be added to our indoor recycling program.Recycling & Counter top bins

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Spring has sprung! –Some spring cleaning ideas and ways to brighten the days with Seattle showers


The first step to enjoying spring (if you aren’t already) is to prepare for all the fun you’ll be having and carve out some space to enjoy the wonderful things that come with spring. Hopefully you’re already doing a few of these!

1) Spruce up your closet – (Donate, Shuffle, or Re-purpose)

Spring cleaning is not complete without going through your wardrobe. I know it’s time to do some rearranging when I have to dig past sweaters to get to t-shirts and tank tops. It’s helpful to go through clothing when the seasons change to see what you will continue to use as is, what you want to donate, and what you might want to give a face lift.donation-pick-up

A few ways I adjust my clothes for the new season is through creating cuffs on my jeans, or roll the sleeves on a t-shirt into a tank top. That way you don’t damage the clothes, and can still use them during the colder months.

Re-purposing clothes that have lived a long life in their current state, but still have integrity is another great way to adjust to the changing seasons. If you want to get a bit crafty you can cut up some tattered pieces and create interesting patches on a pair of old jeans or a new pocket on a t-shirt for a face lift. There are many other blogs and the infamous Pinterest for ideas and tutorials, so if you want to know more there are lots of options! Continue reading


Earth Day(s) Events around the country


I’m guessing that if you follow this blog or are even just checking it out for the first time, you know that Aprill 22nd was Earth Day! I wanted to highlight a few things I found going on at other universities and our own that reflect on the importance of Earth Day.

Food on the front page at George Washington University in Virginia:

At GW, food and agriculture were the main concern of an event that took place Thursday night. Experts spoke at the Feeding The Planet Summit and discussed the future of food and how to fight hunger appropriately using science and sustainability. You can also check out some of their highlights.

SPU’s Scientific Discussion Group:

Scientific Discussion for EarthDayOur own scientific discussion group that meets about weekly on campus honored Earth Day as well. On Tuesday there was a discussion on agriculture as well, regarding the conservation of the grasslands in the U.S. and livestock. The group watched a TED talk and then discussed points from it. If you’d like to, you can still catch the TED talk. You can also get involved by going to their upcoming event next week regarding water conservation.  Email crowderr@spu.edu if you’d like to know more or be added to their email list.

Berkley’s efforts shine at summit: Continue reading

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