waste disposal

Sister Blog: Small Business Innovation is Mushrooming

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Small Business Innovation is Mushrooming

By Judith Enck

Sometimes I worry that one of the enduring manmade wonders of our time will be the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. You know the Garbage Patch – the huge concentration of marine debris (mostly plastics) floating in the Pacific Ocean. It may still be there centuries from now. I wonder if a thousand years from now, tourists will visit the Garbage Patch the way we do the Roman Coliseum or the Pyramids. They’ll take pictures and stand there with their mouths agape wondering “how could they let this happen?”

Personally, I’m hopeful we can reduce the “greatness” of the garbage patch – and solve many of our other waste disposal problems – by reducing packaging or at least making it more sustainable.

Wine packaging

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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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A Second Chance for Homely Peaches, Part II

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By Lena Kim

Last week, I blogged about the sad plight of the Jersey peach. Each year, an estimated one million peaches in the Garden state are dumped unceremoniously into landfills, simply due to superficial blemishes or size discrepancies that prevent their sale. And this is just a drop in the bushel of what goes on throughout our country, while 14 percent of American families are struggling to put food on the table.

However, I promised a happy ending to this juicy saga, so here it goes:

The Food Bank of South Jersey (FBSJ) brainstormed with local growers how those peaches could be salvaged. The answer? A salsa makeover! They approached Campbell Soup Company, who agreed to produce the aptly named Just Peachy Salsa with rescued peaches. Campbell suppliers agreed to donate ingredients and packaging, and Campbell’s employees donated their time, developing a recipe, canning, even labeling this unique product.

From there, the food bank sells the salsa for $2.99 per jar through the FBSJ website, local events, and starting this holiday season, area ShopRite and Wegman’s Supermarkets. Profits from the sales of Just Peachy Salsa go directly to the FBSJ, helping to feed local families struggling to put food on the table.

Let’s go over this winning trifecta again: 1) Local farmers save good products they spent time and energy to grow while also saving on waste disposal costs; 2) The amount of food waste in local landfills is reduced; 3) A local corporation is able to give back with revenues helping to feed hungry families.

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. In this case, life handed the FBSJ a bunch of homely peaches… and they made salsa. Is there a lesson to be learned for the rest of us, who might not necessarily work at a food bank, farm, or food corporation? Absolutely.

The next time we see food that on first glance might appear disposable, let’s all take a closer look. That food just might be like that homely Jersey peach: edible, even delicious, yet in need of a makeover, say, a creative recipe or a different preparation.

Let’s all start rescuing America’s bounty- our Thanksgiving leftovers, our bruised or misshapen fruit, our slightly wilted veggies – from those depressingly large, ever-expanding, methane-spewing landfills. In other words, think of EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge’s rallying call: Feed people, not landfills.

About the author: Lena Kim works with EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge team. She lives in Center City Philadelphia, and frequents New Jersey orchards with friends & family. For more information about where to find the Just Peachy Salsa, click here.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Share Your Sustainability Stories for Rio+20

by Administrator Lisa P. Jackson

This week I join colleagues from across the US and around the world at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. On the 20th anniversary of the 1992 UN Earth Summit that set an early course for sustainability across the globe, we are working to shape the next 20 years of sustainable development with the help of governments, businesses, students, non-profits and global citizens.

Our work will be focused on new strategies to reinvest in the health and prosperity of urban communities. Today, more people around the world live in cities than in rural areas. As that trend continues in the coming years, we will stretch the limits of our transportation systems and energy infrastructure, and be challenged to meet crucial needs like supplying food and clean water, and safely disposing of waste. We’re taking this opportunity at Rio+20 to develop strategies for both improving existing infrastructure and building new, efficient, cutting-edge systems. Innovations in water protection, waste disposal, energy production, construction and transportation present significant opportunities for new technologies, green jobs and savings for families, businesses and communities.

During my time in Rio, I plan to talk about the great work happening in communities across our nation. I will be sharing the stories of individuals and organizations that are implementing new environmental education programs and creating the green jobs of the future, and we’re preparing to unveil videos submitted through the Youth Sustainability Challenge. We want to hear from you as well. Please send us your stories of sustainability this week on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #EPArio so that we can share them with the world.

Even if you can’t be there in person, I hope you will join Rio+20 online. Go to http://conx.state.gov/event/rio20/ to see and participate in all of the events being hosted by the US government, and be a part of our efforts to build a better, more sustainable and more prosperous future.

About the author: Lisa Jackson is the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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How Is Your Service Center Disposing Their Waste?

By Denise Owens

I took my car into my dealership for my routine oil change; the service writer asked if I would like to have my car winterized. Winterized? What’s that I asked? He then explained the procedures that will be taken to perform this maintenance. I decided to start my new year off right by having my car winterized, for the first time ever!

After my service was completed, I received my bill which had a charge for disposing of waste.  I normally don’t pay attention to my bill because I normally pay one set price for an oil change and I just didn’t notice the waste charge. So I asked what did they do with the waste?  He said a waste truck comes in and picks up the used fluids. He also said this crazy agency EPA would give us a huge fine if we didn’t dispose of it properly.  I replied you’re right; if you were to dispose it the old way, then it would cause a lot of harm to the environment.  So after our conversation I said to him, by the way I work for EPA and thanks for watching out for the environment.

Sometimes it costs to help keep the environment safe.  So I suggest asking questions when you get your car serviced, you might learn something. When having your vehicle serviced, have you ever asked your service center if they properly dispose their waste? Share your experience.

About the author: Denise Owens has worked at EPA for over twenty years. She is currently working in the Office of Public Affairs on the Web Team in Washington, DC

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.