Video: Why Does Almost Half of America’s Food Go To Waste?

Roughly 40 percent of food produced in America never makes it to the table. Whether it rots in the field, is trashed at the supermarket, or thrown out at home, NPR’s Allison Aubrey looks at why good food is being discarded, and what can be done to prevent it.

 

Three energy videos from It’s Okay to Be Smart

From It’s Okay to Be Smart. The playlist consists of three videos.

Will We Ever Run Out of Oil?

We’ve heard news of “peak oil” and “the end of the oil age” for years now, but we keep coming up with ways to find and pump more of it to the surface. Rising CO2 levels and the changing climate that results from burning fossil fuels mean that we should probably stop using oil sooner rather than later, though.

Let’s take a look at history and see how we’ve used different fuels, so that we might figure out when and how to make oil a thing of the past.

The Essentials of Energy

The world of energy is a confusing place. What’s better, nuclear or solar? What’s the difference between fluorescent bulbs and LEDs? What’s the difference between energy and power? And what the heck is a kilowatt-hour?! In this video, we give you a tour of the essential principles behind the energy machine that puts fuel in our tanks and brings electricity to our homes. To be a good energy citizen, you need to speak the language.

The Surprising Places We Waste Energy

We use a LOT of energy, but we waste a lot too. Where that waste happens might surprise, you though. We don’t just waste energy when we leave the lights on or the thermostat cranked down too low. It happens at the dinner table and the water faucet as too!

Learn more:
Special thanks to Sheril Kirshenbaum and the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin for their help with this series. Check out their awesome online course “Energy 101” to learn about energy and energy policy from A to Z. And to find out what people think about energy, check out the UT Energy Poll

Why Are The Bees Dying? [video]

Video created by It’s Okay to Be Smart.

Bees, wild and domesticated, are in big trouble. Bee colonies are dying off at alarming rates, and the cause isn’t clear. Pesticides, habitat loss, disease… there’s a laundry list of likely culprits. We rely on these tiny pollinators for a majority of our fruits, veggies, and nuts… if they disappear, could we be next?

Links/Sources

Puesta del Sol School Food Waste Program w/ EPA [video]

Principal Jonathan Shearer of the Puesta del Sol School in Bellevue, Washington describes how they partnered with EPA to avoid food waste. Students collect unwanted, uneaten lunchtime food and dairy for donation to the local food bank.

100% renewables: Is ambition easier than environmental incrementalism?

Read the full story from Treehugger.

Every little bit helps.

That seemed like a mantra for many environmentalists when I was first getting into the green movement. From switching off lights to reusing plastic bags, we focused on individual action, and we begged for—and often cheered—incremental improvements from our governments, communities and corporations.

Yet a new kind of environmental action is emerging, one that is not afraid to champion all-out, systemic change. It’s happening on many fronts:

• Engineers are mapping out roadmaps to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.
Utilities are committing to complete decarbonization, and reshaping their business models around renewables.
• Authorities are planning to “make cars in cities pointless.”
• Mainstream builders are building homes with 90 percent lower heating bills, largely out of straw, at a comparable cost to conventional homes.
• Apple is buying up forests the size of San Francisco to promote sustainable forestry.

Webinar recording: Student Affairs Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing and Event Coordination

Need ideas about going green with purchasing? Planning large events and want to be as environmentally responsible as possible? Wondering if you really can go green? Get some tips in this archived networking and learning opportunity sponsored by the Higher Education Associations Sustainability Consortium (HEASC). The online gathering featured ideas and examples of how Student Affairs units have implemented green practices in purchasing and event coordination. Hear from experts from the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council and from colleagues who’ve made green a reality in their day-to-day operations.

 

The Big Waste: Why Do We Throw Away So Much Food?

Watch the video at Yale Environment360.

A glaring paradox of the U.S. food system is that while no country produces food as efficiently, no country wastes as much. Every year, 30 to 40 percent of what is grown and raised in the United States is thrown away or rots between farms and kitchens. That’s a startling 133 billion pounds of food — more than enough to feed the 800 million people worldwide who face hunger every day.

In this Yale Environment 360 video, we present the first of a two-part e360 series, “Wasted,” on the vexing global problem of food waste. Filmmaker Karim Chrobog visits two cities — Washington, D.C., and Seoul, South Korea — to examine why so much food goes to waste and what can be done about it. Washington, and the U.S. as a whole, has taken only minor steps to reduce this enormous waste and its related human and environmental costs. By contrast, Seoul has adopted innovative programs to minimize the amount of food that ends up going to landfills to rot.

This U.S. video explores the various links in the food chain in the Washington, D.C., area, including organizations working to cut down on food waste. Chrobog speaks with people in the trenches of this food fight, such as workers at the D.C. Central Kitchen, which collects healthy food that otherwise would be discarded and uses it to help provide 5,000 free meals a day to the needy.

The environmental impact of our wastefulness is extraordinarily high, considering the huge amount of fuel, fertilizer, pesticides, and other resources needed to grow and transport food. And when it is dumped in landfills, decaying garbage releases vast amounts of methane. If global food waste were a country, it would rank third in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

The bounty most people in the U.S. enjoy has given rise to a culture of waste. “I think if you really dig down to what’s going on here,” one expert tells Chrobog, “it’s that people don’t value their food.”