Recognizing Our Sustainable Materials Management Award Winners

By Rachel Chaput

EPA’s Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Program represents a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles. It represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. By looking at a product’s entire lifecycle, we can find new opportunities to reduce environmental impacts, conserve resources and reduce costs.

The group of winners all helping to divert solid waste from landfills. Keep up the great work!

The group of winners all helping to divert solid waste from landfills. Keep up the great work!

Each year, EPA issues SMM awards at the national and regional levels, to recognize our best performers within the program. On January 11, an awards ceremony was held at our Region 2 office in New York City, to distribute the awards.  Links to the award announcements can be found below.  Region 2 would like to announce our regional award and certificate winners for three SMM challenges, and thank them for their great efforts and contributions toward improving our environment and our lives.

The Food Recovery Challenge (FRC) Partners pledge to improve their sustainable food management practices and report their results. FRC Endorsers educate others about the value of the FRC program. Organizations are encouraged to follow the Food Recovery Hierarchy to prioritize their actions to prevent and divert wasted food. In 2015, Region 2 FRC partners diverted 30,077 tons of food from the landfill through their collective activities.

The EPA WasteWise program encourages organizations to achieve sustainability in their practices and to reduce select industrial wastes. Participants demonstrate how they reduce waste, practice environmental stewardship and incorporate sustainable materials management into their waste-handling processes. Region 2 WasteWise partners diverted 925,352 tons of municipal solid waste from landfills during 2015. Regional WasteWise winners:  Kearfott Corp., Curbell Inc., and Brown’s Superstores: Shoprite at Brooklawn.

The Federal Green Challenge (FGC) challenges EPA and other federal agencies throughout the country to lead by example in reducing the federal government’s environmental impact. In 2015, Region 2 FGC partners diverted 7,678 tons of municipal solid waste from the landfill, and saved 59,536,360 gallons of potable water and 18,371,639 kWh of energy through their conservation activities.

Click here for a list of the Food Recovery Challenge regional award winners (scroll down for Region 2): https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-challenge-results-and-award-winners#2016Regional

Region 2 has one national FRC winner, the Town and Village of New Paltz.  Follow the link and click on ‘Town of New Paltz’ for more information about New Paltz’s good work: https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/about-2016-food-recovery-challenge-award-winners.

Click here for both national and regional Federal Green Challenge Award winners: https://www.epa.gov/fgc/2016-federal-green-challenge-awards.

For information on WasteWise and national Award winners, visit: https://www.epa.gov/smm/wastewise#awards

About the Author: Rachel Chaput has worked with the Region 2 office of the US Environmental Protection Agency for 24 years.  Before working in Sustainable Materials Management, she worked in Indoor Air programs and managed the Asthma grants program for ten years. 

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Flying for the Holidays? Follow our Tips to Manage Your Carbon-Footprint Guilt

By Sophia Rini

I usually avoid travelling for the entire time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. But occasionally it’s unavoidable. Despite taking public transportation to work every day, just one holiday season and it seems like I’ve undone all my good climate karma. The fact is that for those of us who aren’t lucky enough to have family nearby, sometimes flying is the only option. To help my fellow airborne travelers with their jumbo-jet sized guilt, I did some research on how to minimize our environmental impacts, even while travelling in the most un-ecofriendly of ways.

Although some of the suggestions below might seem small, since almost one-quarter of all travel occurs during the holiday season, if everyone followed them, the impacts would certainly add up.

Tips for decreasing the environmental impact of flying:

  • Use electronic tickets whenever possible and save the unnecessary paper.
  • Bring your own water, snacks etc. and pack them in reusable containers. Now that airlines charge for everything, this is both economically and environmentally smart. The last time I was at LaGuardia Airport, I was impressed by a water bottle refill station in one of the terminals. I hope these become more common in public places around the country.
  • Travel light. Don’t bring disposable items or things that will become waste, ask your hosts where you’re going if you need to bring shampoo and other toiletries or if they will be able to share. Alternatively, divvy up the items with your travel companions – your partner can bring the toothpaste, no need for two tubes. Packing lighter means less fuel is used and less shoulder strain too. In addition, consider giving experiences or gift cards rather than lugging a pile of presents across the country.
  • Go before you fly. Use the airport bathroom instead of the one on the plane. I read this tip on the Go Green Blog and though it sounds funny, according to them, the fuel for every mile-high flush could run a car for six miles.
  • Decrease your emissions getting to and from the airport. Take public transportation or carpool.
  • If you can, opt for non-stop flights and avoid flying on older, fuel-guzzling jets like first-generation 737s and MD-80s.
  • Take direct flights. If you do have to stop over, try and have the layover be at an airport that supports recycling or other green initiatives. Chicago O’Hare recently installed an urban garden that is not only visually appealing, but also supplies vegetables to airport restaurants (just in case you didn’t follow tip #2 and forgot to bring your own snacks).
  • Review which airlines are the greenest before purchasing your tickets.
  • Consider participating in a carbon offsetting program. Find out your personal carbon footprint to determine how big an impact your regular lifestyle has on climate change. You can also calculate the extra amount your flight will add to your emissions and choose to offset the carbon dioxide. Carbon offsetting neutralizes the carbon emitted when you travel from point A to point B. Offsetting is performed by organizations that channel funds to carbon-reducing projects such as tree planting or solar panel installation. Remember to investigate the plan before you purchase: check how the donations are used, if the results are guaranteed, and if there is a seal of approval.
O'Hare Garden

The urban garden at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport provides vegetables to the airport restaurants.

Do you have any suggestions for decreasing the environmental impact of airline travel? Add your tips to the comments section.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

A Call to Action to Reduce Food Loss and Waste

Mathy Stanislaus Mathy Stanislaus

By Mathy Stanislaus

Last November I co-hosted the Food Recovery Summit, bringing businesses, non-profits, governments, and community groups together in Charleston, South Carolina to reduce the problem of wasted food. There are successful efforts underway across the country that tackle wasted food – saving money, feeding the hungry, and acting on climate change.

Mathy CharlestonEPA and the US Department of Agriculture announced an ambitious national goal of reducing food loss and waste by 50 percent by 2030. To reach our goal, we will need to harness and amplify these best practices and creative thinking. This effort is a triple win for the environment, economy, and social well-being of those who are the least fortunate among us.

Large piles of food in a field with a stack of boxes next to them.We worked with numerous stakeholders to gather some of the best thinking into a resulting summary we are releasing today: U.S. 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal: A Call to Action by Stakeholders. This Call to Action records the demonstrated practices of leaders throughout the food industry, divided into the categories of production, manufacturing, retail, consumers, recovery and regulators. As its name suggests, this summary is a call to action, calling the leaders of these sectors to take the best practices, innovative ideas, and key strategies within it and, not only put them to use locally, but to scale up their efforts nationwide.

This Call to Action contains key focus areas, opportunities, demonstrated practices and suggested actions identified by experts in the private and public sector. Just a few of the innovative practices inside A Call to Action include:

  • farmers starting ugly produce markets and offering gleaning opportunities
  • manufacturers using technology to make food storage easier and reduce spoilage
  • retailers establishing new networks to bring excess catered or unsold food to those who need it most
  • communities setting up composting programs to keep food out of landfills
  • advocacy groups and faith-based organizations creating recipe books, volunteer opportunities, tips and apps for consumers
  • universities educating students through strategies like starting tray-less dining, offering taste tests and sharing the results of their waste audits.

Everyone has a part to play to help us reach our goal, from families to the largest food producers. The Call to Action is a first step towards creating a pathway to get us there.

To check out the U.S. 2030 Food Loss and Waste Reduction Goal: A Call to Action by Stakeholders, visit: http://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/call-action-stakeholders-united-states-food-loss-waste-2030-reduction

For more on food recovery visit: www.epa.gov/foodrecovery

To learn how your organization can track food inventories and set food waste prevention goals, visit https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-management-food/food-recovery-challenge-frc

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Urban Green

Even the smallest of balconies can host a few plants and add some much needed greenery to the urban jungle.

Even the smallest of balconies can host a few plants and add some much needed greenery to the urban jungle.

By Sion Lee

I have always had an affinity for all things green. I love the feeling of cool grass beneath my bare feet, the smell of the bouquet of roses sitting on my kitchen table, the gracefulness of a weeping willow… I am easily enamored by plants and trees. The New York Botanical Garden is my favorite place to be – ever. It is not a surprising confession then, when I say that one of my goals in life is to have a huge garden where I can plant my own collection of greens.

It’s slightly difficult, however, to maintain such a garden in New York City. While it is true that certain boroughs have more space than others (basically all boroughs except Manhattan), space is limited and expensive. As a resident of Queens, New York City, I am fortunate enough to live in a building that has a balcony. The balcony is made of concrete, but it has enough space to place potted plants and small trees. My family grows green peppers and ruby red cherry tomatoes each year. Yes, they’re delicious – but they are not enough to quench my need for seed.

This is where community gardens come into play. A community garden is self-explanatory: it is a garden for the people, created by the people. It is not uncommon for vacant lots to turn into community gardens. It is place where the people living in the community can come together to grow fresh produce. A community garden has many environmental and health benefits. For one, more plants would mean more oxygen restored into the air. This would reduce air pollution, which is especially crucial in highly polluted urban areas. Participating in a community garden would also increase environmental awareness.

Locally grown fruits and vegetables are often said to taste better and to be better for the environment. While there have not been any comprehensive studies to support these claims, I believe that just reaping what you have sowed is a truly more rewarding experience than buying produce from chain grocery stores. Furthermore, while buying locally might be more expensive than regular produce, growing your own food is the cheapest option of all. This has a great health implication for people of lower socioeconomic standing; community gardens make healthier foods more accessible to those who usually cannot afford it.

Besides, community gardens are fun. They allow you to interact with people from your community who share the same green interests as you do. Having a strong sense of community can create an opportunity for neighborhood crime rates to decrease. Go with your child, best friend, partner- or just go alone. No matter what, you are guaranteed to have a wonderful time.

About the Author: Sion (pronounced see-on) is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She is an intern in the EPA Region 2 Public Affairs Division. She is a native of Queens. Sion’s favorite hobbies include eating, listening to Stevie Wonder, and breaking stereotypes.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Spring Cleaning Can Be Even Healthier using Green Products

The welcome return of spring sunshine makes me think of one thing – grimy, winter-weary windows. And then there’s the fridge, the baseboards, the carpets, the bathroom grout, the kitchen cabinets. All these little spots we ignored all winter are now ready for a thorough scrub. No wonder nearly 75 percent of Americans like to do a good spring cleaning.

Good thing you can use the EPA Safer Choice label to help you find cleaning and other household products that are made with ingredients that are safer for people and the environment.

Healthy Choices

That’s a great assurance, considering household cleaning products are one source of indoor air pollution, which can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Products with safer ingredients improve indoor air quality and can lower the risk of health hazards, including respiratory conditions like asthma; allergic reactions, which can cause skin rashes, hives or headaches; and a variety of other conditions. Children and older people, in particular, are more susceptible to risks — so they’re better off in spaces cleaned with safer products and wearing clothes cleaned with a laundry detergent that uses safer solvents and surfactants.  And what about parents and those who regularly clean and do the wash, coming in close contact with cleaners and detergents? Safer is certainly better for them. Safer Choice recognizes that everyday cleaning products make a big difference to your family’s well-being.

Cleaners also affect the quality of our local streams, rivers and lakes. When Safer Choice products get rinsed down the drain and make their way into the watershed, they are less toxic to fish and other aquatic life. That’s good news for New England’s iconic waterways, whether it’s Lake Champlain, the Charles River or Long Island Sound… or the ponds, streams and wetlands found throughout New England.

IMG_0749

Here’s something that may surprise you. Unlike food producers, cleaning product manufacturers are not required to list ingredients on their containers or make them public. But to display the Safer Choice label, manufacturers must list all of their product’s ingredients either on the product or on an easy-access website.

Safer Choice is the first federal label for cleaning products and it is proving incredibly popular. More than 2,000 products have already earned the right to carry the logo. They’re available in local grocery stores and hardware stores, and include cleaners for use at home, offices, schools, hotels and sports venues.

The agency’s website (https://www.epa.gov/saferchoice) lists all the products that proudly carry the Safer Choice label. We also offer interactive tools to find the best cleaning products for your home and for businesses like schools, hotels, offices, and sports venues. And my personal favorite – cleaners for those grimy windows.

By Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator, US EPA Region 1 (New England Region)

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Leadville, Colorado: Some great environmental happenings

by Wendy Dew

I’ve spent a lot of time in Leadville, Colorado.   Also known as the Two-Mile-High City, Leadville is the highest incorporated city and the second highest incorporated municipality in the United States. In the late 19th century, Leadville was the second most populous city in Colorado, after Denver.

An image of Leadville, ColoradoBut what I know most about Leadville is EPA’s work on cleaning up the California Gulch Superfund site and a local conservation group’s efforts to educate citizens on energy and environmental issues.

The California Gulch site covers 18 square miles in Lake County, including Leadville and a section of the Arkansas River. Former mining operations contributed to metals contamination in surface water, groundwater, soil and sediment. Over the years, EPA has worked with the state, the local community and the site’s potentially responsible parties to clean up the site, coordinate ecological restoration work and redevelop specific portions of the site.

While there are still portions of the site that are being cleaned up, 11 miles of the Upper Arkansas River have been restored and the area was added to the Gold Medal Trout Waters in Colorado.  These fishing areas are noted by Colorado Wildlife Commission as places where trout are plentiful and larger.  The designation has been 20 years in the making, and although anglers have enjoyed the improved conditions for years, it is an official acknowledgement of the myriad efforts by state and federal agencies, local governments and stakeholders to turn an impaired river into one of the most popular fishing destinations in Colorado.

Gold medal waters are not the only great environmental happenings in Leadville. The Cloud City Conservation Center (C4) was awarded two EPA grants for environmental justice work and environmental education work.  I got the chance to visit C4 and see firsthand how they are making a difference in the community.

The environmental justice project focused on helping low-income and minority residents in Lake County reduce energy use and address under-insulated and leaky housing. It focused specifically on residents who have limited access to information due to language barriers, immigration status and other hurdles facing this EJ population. C4 conducted workshops using EPA grant funds to educate the community about conservation and efficiency measures they could implement in their homes to save energy and money. Thirty home energy audits and follow up support services provided participants the opportunity to improve the energy efficiency of their homes while becoming more knowledgeable about energy conservation.

An image of a corroding vent.

Vent that is corroding due to corrosive combustion gases coming from the boiler

As a result of this initiative, the community enjoys lower greenhouse gas emissions and more comfortable homes. Additionally, the impact of global climate change is addressed through local solutions, thereby empowering the community to make a difference on the sustainability of our environment.

The environmental education project, awarded in 2015, seeks composting materials stored in one placeto make Lake County youth the environmental leaders of the community, ultimately expanding Lake County’s capacity for environmental stewardship. Approximately 1,100 Lake County K-12 students will increase their environmental understanding through daily composting and hands on education.

This will increase capacity in each Lake County School to reduce waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a valuable environmental product, establishing a model program Compost poster.for the community as a whole. The compost will be used in a future greenhouse project for the local schools.  The kids who are involved in managing the compost bins are incredible proud of the positive local environmental impact they are having at their school.

The transformation from mines to parks, gold medal trout waters, environmental justice initiatives and future environmental leaders is impressive. Visiting grantees is one of my favorite things to do in my job.  It gives me a chance to see for myself all the great work EPA grant funds make possible.  Talking to kids who are excited about the environmental changes they are making is amazing.  It motivates me and makes me feel like I am part of a very large movement to restore, protect and improve our environment.  C4 is continuing to work with the Leadville community to address environmental and public health issues.

About the author:

Wendy Dew is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for EPA Region 8.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Celebrate New England’s National Parks

By Gina Snyder

This is a year of anniversaries for the Boston Harbor and Islands. Twenty-five years ago the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority announced that no more sludge would be dumped into the harbor. After over 100 years of discharges to the harbor, this was a real milestone and it opened the way for the Boston Harbor Islands to become a unit of the National Park System 20 years ago. And just a decade ago, Spectacle Island, reclaimed from a former landfill, was opened for visitors.

While the first National Park was created on March 1st, 1872, it wasn’t until 100 years ago this year that we had a National Park Service. What better way to celebrate the first National Park and the 100th anniversary of the Park Service than for New Englanders to visit the island jewels in Boston Harbor and celebrate the environmental milestones at the same time?  Ferries run in summer to some of the 34 islands in the park, including Spectacle Island and George’s Island (www.nps.gov/boha).

Visiting our National Parks is a great way to enjoy nature. As of this year, Massachusetts has sixteen National Park locations DeerIsland.NPservice(www.nps.gov/ma) among twenty-seven national parks plus several national historic sites and scenic trails in all of New England. Ranging from small historic sites to a 2,180-mile long public footpath known as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail that runs from Maine to Georgia, these parks give you a variety of choices for celebrating the centennial.

If it’s a small historic site you want, why not head to JFK’s birthplace in Brookline or Washington’s headquarters at the Longfellow House in Cambridge. And if it’s a wilderness hike in nature, check out one or all 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail as it runs through the scenic, wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains, through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont each have one National Park – Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in New Hampshire and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont. Maine and Rhode Island each have two sites. In Maine – well-known Acadia National Park and Saint Croix Island International Historic Site, home of the earliest French presence in North America. And in Rhode Island, Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence and Touro Synagogue National Historic Site in Newport.

Celebrating our national parks lets us get outside to enjoy the environment. Here in the Boston area, it’s an advantage that you can get to many of our nearby parks by public transit. The three right in Boston are easily accessible: Besides the Harbor Islands, Boston’s National Historic Park is at Faneuil Hall (www.nps.gov/bost) and the Boston African American National Historic Site and meeting house is centered on the north slope of Beacon Hill (www.nps.gov/boaf).

In this year of centennial celebration for the National Park Service you are invited to get out and find your park, ( www.nps.gov/subjects/centennial/findyourpark.htm) but with the success of the Boston Harbor clean up, you can get out and find your island.

-30-

About the author:  Gina Snyder works in the Office of Environmental Stewardship, Compliance Assistance at EPA New England and serves on her town’s climate committee.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Green Infrastructure: Innovative Solutions to Stormwater Pollution

By Barbara Pualani

EPA identifies stormwater as the number one threat to our waterways. Stormwater pollution is the result of development and the heavy use of impervious materials, such as concrete and metals, in our everyday construction. These surfaces discourage water from soaking into the ground, so when it rains, stormwater runs off these surfaces and into our water bodies, carrying solid waste and pollution with it. Green infrastructure provides an effective solution to the stormwater pollution problem by taking advantage of nature’s inherent properties. By using pervious surfaces that allow water to soak into the ground, pollutants can be filtered out before entering waterways. In a joint project, Nassau County Soil and Water Conservation District and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation produced an educational film “Stormwater Pollution and Green Infrastructure” (shown below), in order to highlight this very important issue. Director of the Clean Water Division at EPA Region 2, Joan Matthews, featured in the video, touts the success of green infrastructure projects everywhere – “green infrastructure works and it helps to reduce pollutants.” Watch, learn, enjoy – we all have a role to play in reducing stormwater pollution.

To learn more and for more stormwater education resources, visit: www.NassauSWCD.org

About the author: Barbara Pualani serves as a speechwriter for EPA Region 2. Prior to joining EPA, she served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic. She resides in Brooklyn and is a graduate of University of Northern Colorado and Columbia University.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Water with your meal?

By Jennie Saxe

This time of year, you might find me sampling the last of our Valentine’s Day chocolates, or cooking up a hearty stew – enough to ensure there will be leftovers for my busy family. In past blogs, we’ve written about the water footprint of our food, and ways that sustainable food management protects water resources. This got me thinking: how much water goes into producing some of my family’s favorite foods?

You can calculate the “water footprint” of your favorite foods.

You can calculate the “water footprint” of your favorite foods.

After doing a little research, I found that there’s a lot of water hidden in my go-to chicken stew recipe: the chicken alone – about 2 lbs. of it – requires around 1,100 gallons of water to produce. That’s enough water to fill about 25 bathtubs! If my famous beef stew were on the menu, the same amount of beef requires almost quadruple the amount of water – 91 bathtubs’ worth. And believe it or not, those Valentine’s Day chocolates have the largest water footprint on the menu: it takes a whopping 454 gallons of water to produce a standard-sized (100g) chocolate bar. According to EPA’s WaterSense program, that’s more water than an average American family of four uses in one day.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the water footprint of your favorite meals. Buying only what you need for your recipes reduces potential food waste, and minimizes the waste of everything that went into producing the food, including water!

You can also look for foods that are locally-grown. Lower transportation needs for local food translate into a smaller environmental footprint overall. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and urban gardens are great ways to support your community and get healthy, local foods. EPA is a partner in the Local Foods, Local Places program which helps communities like Allentown, Pennsylvania, Crisfield, Maryland, and Williamson, West Virginia stimulate economic development through local food enterprises.

With simple steps, you can be a water-savvy home chef – and still make mouths water at the dinner table.

About the author: Dr. Jennie Saxe joined EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region in 2003 and works in the Water Protection Division on sustainability programs.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

A Tribute to Maurice Strong

By Alan Hecht

Mr. Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of of the 1992 Earth Summit talking in the Special Ceremony to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Rio de Janeiro - Brazil. 15 Jun 2012. UN PHOTO/Maria Elisa Franco

Mr. Maurice Strong, Secretary-General of of the 1992 Earth Summit talking in the Special Ceremony to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Rio de Janeiro – Brazil. 15 Jun 2012. UN PHOTO/Maria Elisa Franco

On November 27, 2015 Maurice Strong of Canada died at the age of 86. No one deserves more credit than him for advancing the goals of sustainability. Delegates at the recent Paris climate conference payed tribute to his vision and accomplishments.

He organized the Stockholm Conference in 1972, subtitled “Only One Earth” and the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, subtitled “Our Last Chance to Save the Earth.”  The Stockholm Conference is recognized as a major landmark in launching a new era of international environmental diplomacy. After the 1972 Summit he served as the first Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

His leadership in 1972 was crucial to beginning to address a host of emerging threats to the natural environment and advancing the critical role of the United Nations.  He was clever enough to commission an historic study (“Only One Earth”) by Barbara Ward and Rene Dubos which underscored the growing industrial stressors on the environment and depletion of natural resources.  This was the first “State of the World” Report

The 1972 Report was the first to emphasize the potential for depletion of natural resources and to project that the impacts of global population growth and urban development would be critical lessons of world history.  The Report was a flashing yellow light of caution. Today global population is projected to be 9 billion by 2050 and 10 billion by 2100, with more people living in cities than ever before. This has prompted the current UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to note that, “our struggle for global sustainability will be won or lost in cities.”  Today this is a flashing red light.

Twenty years later Maurice Strong was key in organizing the Rio Earth Summit. It was there that the head of the US Delegation, EPA Administrator Bill Reilly, and I met with him. Since then he played a key role in many UN activities helping to advance a more sustainable and resilient world. In his book in 2000 “Where on Earth Are We Going?” he predicted that in three decades environmental catastrophes could wipe out as much as two-thirds of the world’s population. He strongly pushed for business-government collaboration to get out front on key issue. After the Earth Summit, Strong continued to take a leading role in implementing the results of Rio through dozens of international organizations.

Over his life time he strongly advanced the concept of sustainability.  Unfortunately what he advanced in 1972 and 1992 is still an issue today.  Today, achieving the goal of sustainability is even more urgent. While it has taken decades to reach this point, there is a need for accelerated action due to pressures and trends that will impact society over the coming decades. It is here that EPA can help shape and protect the future world.

About the Author: Alan Hecht is the Director for Sustainable Development in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

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