Chicago City Council approves compost ordinance

Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago’s City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance to track and legalize donations of uncooked food scraps to urban farms and community gardens that make fertilizer…

Urban farms and community gardens accepting food scraps will now have to register with the city and maintain records of the scraps donated. The fertilizer, or compost, only is allowed in the site where it is created and cannot be sold unless the farm or garden gets a special permit from the city.

California’s Drought Changes Habits in the Kitchen

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Across California, home cooks and restaurant chefs are adjusting to a new reality in kitchens where water once flowed freely over sinks full of vegetables, and no one thought twice about firing up a big pot of water for pasta.



Know these three Vs of sustainability communication

Read the full story from GreenBiz.

You might be wondering why McDonald’s committed for 100 percent of the fish served in its U.S. and European restaurants to carry the Marine Stewardship Council ecolabel.

As you can imagine, it is no small task or expense to ensure traceability through to a fishery that meets MSC’s strict sustainability standards, especially for a huge volume of fish. Nevertheless, McDonald’s made the commitment and uses the ecolabel to tell consumers.

McDonald’s use of the MSC ecolabel is part of a broad commitment to sustainable sourcing. The company’s sustainable sourcing story, in its totality, is an example of what I call the three Vs of effective sustainability communications: Value; Viewpoint; and Vehicle.

Champaign’s Big Grove Tavern wins People & Planet Award

Green America announced that two small businesses in Illinois and a third in Florida have won the Spring 2015 People & Planet Award (PPA). The focus of the Spring 2015 PPA Awards was “green celebrations,” specifically small businesses that built social and environmental considerations into their catering and event services.

The three winners, which were selected by the public during a month-long online voting period, are: Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, IL; Collective Resource, Chicago, IL; and Sweet Peas Café, Dunedin, FL.

Alisa Gravitz, president of Green America, said: “We all live lives of tremendous interdependence.  As we celebrate our key achievements and life events, we ought to remain mindful of the environment and the working people all around that have supported us and made our achievements possible. The three small businesses we are recognizing today innovatively help Americans invite those considerations into their celebrations.”

The winning companies are:

  • Collective Resource, Chicago, IL is an innovative composting business that delivers collection containers and returns to pick them up filled with food scraps and other compostable materials. If customers choose to have the company staff their event, Collective Resource ensures the sustainable disposal of all organic food waste, as well as all other waste, including recyclables.
  • Big Grove Tavern, Champaign, IL serves fresh farm-to-table New American Cuisine. Almost 80 percent of their proteins come from farms within 60 miles, and 80 percent of their produce is sourced locally during the summer. The tavern also sources from local dairies and distilleries, uses no Styrofoam, and recycles and composts to minimize waste. With its Give Back Campaign, the tavern has been donating a portion of lunch sales to a different local charity every month.
  • Sweet Peas Café, Dunedin, FL is a community-centered, organic, parent-friendly café located in historic downtown Dunedin, FL. The café has 10,000 square feet of enclosed yard, which has been transformed into a combined play space, eating area, and garden. The yard is surrounded by a NABA-certified Butterfly Habitat and 20 percent of the yard is currently transitioning into a garden where the café will grow its own herbs and vegetables. Sweet Peas Café composts the food its customers do not eat, as well as food scraps, boxes, and coffee grounds from our daily prep work. The café also hosts environmentally responsible parties and community events for all ages almost daily.

Erlene Howard, founder of Collective Resource, said: “All of us at Collective Resource are very grateful to be a People & Planet Award winner. With the assistance of this award, we’ll be able to invest in automated container washing, which will not only increase our service capacity, but use less water while doing so. We’ll be in a terrific place to keep our green work going well into the future. Thank you to everyone.”

Beckie Kane, event coordinator for Big Grove Tavern. said: “We are excited to purchase new equipment that allows us to expand our menu and utilize even more products from local, sustainable farms.”

Danielle Pastore, owner of Sweet Peas Café, said: “We are very honored to accept this award. In a world of conventional restaurant models and business models, it is very challenging for small businesses to find extra resources that will fund ideas that are outside of the box. This award money is really going to be put good use. For four years, we have had a plan to use the west side of the property as an organic garden space where customers are able to eat, party, and play where food is grown. Thank you for helping to make our dream into a reality, to help us to give our customers a unique experience, and for enabling us to set an example not just on a business level but to inspire other to keep their ideas alive.”

The businesses that the public vote on are determined by public nominations and an expert panel of judges: Katie Galloway and Gigi Abbadie, Aveda; Justin Conway, Calvert Foundation; Deven Clemens, Clif Bar; Jenny Burns, Honest Tea;  Jonathan Reinbold, Organic Valley; Martin Wolf, Seventh Generation; and Andrew Korfhage and Fran Teplitz, Green America.


Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides the economic strategies, organizing power and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.

Upcoming webinar: Do you want your receipt? How simple steps can reduce use of and occupational exposure to BPA and BPS in thermal receipt paper

Jul 28, 2015 2:00 PM CDT

Are you a cashier? Own a business that uses thermal receipt paper? Manage point-of-sale operations or sustainable purchasing? If so, you may have wondered how to respond to news that thermal receipt papers are often coated with endocrine active chemicals BPA or its chemical cousin, BPS. Whatever your business — from one-register coffee shops to grocery stores, bookstores, or national retailers — you can take actions that will make a measurable difference.

Madalyn Cioci from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency will help you understand the issue and offer practical steps you can take to reduce exposure to these chemicals. Jolene Parker from Minneapolis’ Linden Hills Co-op will describe the challenges faced and successes achieved her business when they changed their receipt handling procedures.

The information and case studies presented are the result of a partnership project which tested thermal papers for concentrations of BPA and BPS and measured how much chemical and paper could be eliminated through a variety of actions.

Hosted by the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable.

New York’s New Solar-Powered Food Carts Are Cool — But Wait Until They Run On Food Waste

Read the full story in Fast Company.

Waiting in line for a giant pretzel or falafel at a New York City food cart usually involves listening to the roar of a generator, smelling a whiff of diesel or gas, or—for the more neurotic among us—idly wondering if the propane tanks near the hot grill might someday explode.

That will start to change this summer, as the city rolls out 500 sleek new carts that run on solar power, rechargeable batteries, and alternative fuel. Eventually, the new cart, called the MRV100, might even be able to run on fuel made directly from food waste.