Recycling: It’s Also About Food

John Martin

This isn't garbage, so don't treat it that way.

This isn’t garbage, so don’t treat it that way.

It’s America Recycles Day— a time for all of us to take a good hard look at what we’re throwing out, and committing to do less of it.

Here in NYC, recycling is a way of life. For people living in apartment buildings, walking your empties to that recycling room down the hall is a daily routine. For those living in houses, dragging those iconic blue bins out to the curb is one of the many ways you let your neighbors know you care. Although most of us wouldn’t think of throwing an empty bottle in a regular old trash can, tons of trash still piles up every day across the City, to be shipped to landfills throughout the country.

A major culprit of this scourge? Food waste.

Americans throw out enough food every day to fill Yankee Stadium. Wasted food makes up 21% of the “trash” in our country, yet millions of Americans still lack consistent access to a safe and healthy diet. This thrown-away food burdens landfills and generates greenhouse gases. It also costs a lot, wasting an estimated $100 billion annually.

Thankfully, a growing number of businesses are doing their part to help solve this problem.

The EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) works with companies and other organizations to help reduce food waste by minimizing unnecessary food purchases, donating edible food to feed hungry people, and by composting. Here in the New York City region, over 10 organizations have signed up to become partners and endorsers of the FRC, with two New York City mainstays– D’Agostino Supermarkets, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden– signing up this past year.

These newest members are having a real impact already. D’Agostino, for instance, has donated 400,000 pounds of fresh produce, canned goods and prepared food to local food charity City Harvest this year. City Harvest has taken all of this food and distributed it to its network of soup kitchens, food pantries and other organizations that help feed hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each week. Because of D’Agostino and City Harvest, more people are getting the nutrition they need, and the planet becomes a little bit cleaner in the process. It’s a win-win.

If you’re looking to make a difference this America Recycles Day, share what you’ve learned about the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge with your favorite grocery store or restaurant, or any other organization that may be interested in wasting less.