We’re highlighting a really unique partnership we’ve seen blossom in our community. Teens for Food Justice has partnered with Bruce Randolph School (one of our Mobile Food Market locations) to launch a hydroponic farm run entirely by the students! We discovered this program when Bruce Randolph sought us out to distribute excess student-grown produce at our Mobile Food Market. That should give you an idea of how successful these students have been at running this farm!
Teens for Food Justice operates high-capacity hydroponic farms on five school campuses across New York City, and one in our hometown of Denver. The students in grades 6-12 use real-world 21st-century science and technology to grow up to 10,000 pounds (per school) of hydroponic produce annually. Vertical hydroponic farming uses less space and just a tenth of the water resources compared to an outdoor farm, which allows students to grow more produce, more quickly.
The process of growing, caring for, harvesting, and eating the produce equips students with the expertise and hands-on experience needed to combat food insecurity. The locations of these hydroponic farms are not a coincidence. These programs are started in areas specifically chosen based on their need for food access.
Schools are natural community anchors, and Teens for Food Justice combines STEM education, nutrition education, and food-justice advocacy to mold the next generation of agricultural experts. By partnering with We Don’t Waste and servicing our distribution network, TFFJ and WDW are working together to create an immediate and inter-generational impact on ending food insecurity in Bruce Randolph’s neighborhood.
We Don’t Waste has received hundreds of pounds of excess greens for our Bruce Randolph markets since the program kicked off in the summer of 2022. At each of these markets, we typically serve between 150 to 200 families. The students’ view of food is transformed, and their community can reap the benefits as well!
Produce is one of the most culturally universal foods, and one of the most requested food groups across all of We Don’t Waste’s Mobile Food Markets. We are thrilled to be able to receive this produce from the Bruce Randolph School, and are grateful to Teens for Food Justice for making this program possible!
Despite the fact that everyone needs to eat to survive, food means different things to different people. From our Distribution Center where we move dozens of pallets, to our 90+ partner organizations to whom we directly distribute the food, there are hundreds of people who come into contact with the food, and each holds a different relationship with it.
I did some investigative research on what comes to mind when people think of food, and got some awesome responses!
Food is community. Art. Life. Life-giving. Energy. Everything. Family-time. Home. A blessing. Essential. Happiness.
One thing I heard across the board was that no matter what, gratitude and appreciation for food access were overwhelming themes of my conversations. Speaking with our Mobile Food Market participants, you can feel the positivity radiating from each person I spoke with, so I’d like to share a sampling of some of the conversations I had.
Jessi was one of the first people I spoke with during one of our Mobile Food Markets. She started attending our Mobile Food Markets in the summer of 2022 after her friend told her about We Don’t Waste. Grocery bills had been getting more and more expensive, and with the arrival of her first little one, Declan, her relationship with food changed quickly. She loves to cook, but she was thinking about eating healthily, introducing foods to Declan, and balancing all of this on top of her new responsibilities as a mother.
“Food is community. And I really believe that! I’m really all about the verse that says “taste and see that the lord is good.” I was thinking about it today, it’s even cool standing in line and seeing people in front of me and behind me. And often, people start talking and sharing their story and what is bringing them here. Maybe I never would have met this person before, but here we are standing in line together. And we have the opportunity to chat about our lives and circumstances, and come together.”
For Manuela, food is one of the things that brings her large family together, quite literally, around a busy dinner table! Manuela prepares three meals a day for her husband, four children, and her grandmother.
“Food. I’m thinking about it all the time. I’m thinking of it the night before, what am I going to make tomorrow, what am I making for breakfast, dinner? I don’t want to make the same thing over and over. I look up recipes.”
Between taking care of her four kids and her grandmother, she’s got her hands full! Her oldest is 17 years old, and her youngest just hit one year, but they all stick together like glue, with food being one of the things that unites them. She has the kids help with preparation, and she creates meals inspired by her grandmother’s home in Guatemala.
“Usually, dinner is a big deal. When everyone gets home, we found out how our days went. Usually, Oscar goes to bed pretty early, so we have dinner early, and we just watch TV. The older kids do homework and we stay together.”
Even though money is tight for this family, it’s evident by the stories Manuela tells that her family is even tighter, and meals for them are an important piece of their quality time.
“Food helps you do everything! Food is going out for adventures, and going out with the kids to have fun! It gets you out the door to do new things.”
A huge portion of the food We Don’t Waste distributes goes to local nonprofits serving our neighbors in a variety of contexts. I spoke with Jone, who works at the Mariposa House with The Empowerment Program. One of the organization’s services is providing shelter for women who have been victims of domestic abuse, and preparing them with the resources and the skills they need to restart life independently and healthfully.
Jone was kind enough to show me around the Mariposa House, and guide me through the kitchen and pantry where the food from We Don’t Waste is stored. Each woman has her own cupboard and section of the fridge, and Jone prepares meals for the women to share.
“Every day I prepare dinner for them, and we all sit down together to eat and talk. We’re really about building a community here. And the women, they love it! Every day they say ‘Miss Jone, what’s for dinner, what are you making?’ and we talk and laugh and have a good time.”
The women in the house also practice food recovery of their own and save seeds from the produce they receive to grow as much food as they can in the garden. Jone showed me the garden by the side of the kitchen, with some herbs and squash displayed proudly.
This house was creating a safe space and a family for these women, and Jone was proud to share stories about the women who had recently found full-time work, and were able to transition out of the Mariposa House. She thanked We Don’t Waste profusely while breaking down the ground meat for their spaghetti night.
“With this food, we can take one less thing off of these women’s minds. They focus on themselves and where they’re going. We are just so grateful for the food you give us.”
A good meal can be easy to take for granted, but for so many Coloradans, it means so much to have a full plate. This Colorado Gives Day, you can help us provide more recovered food to organizations serving our community, and directly to families and individuals.
With the match from our friends at CoBank and PB and K Family Foundation, a gift of $50 will provide over 600 meals to families like Manuela and Jessi’s, or will provide two weeks of meals at the Mariposa House.
We’re getting into the time of year when friends and families start to come together to sit down and enjoy meals together. But, while we gather around a table in gratitude for our food, it is important to be conscious not to produce more food waste. Out of all of the holidays, Thanksgiving is one of the most wasteful days for food waste in America. Around 305 million pounds of food will go uneaten on Thanksgiving day alone.
Here are some tips to help reduce the amount of waste produced in your home.
Plan your meals
If you have trouble buying the right ingredients, look up some recipes ahead of time, and plan meals that will feed the number of people you plan to serve. If you stick to a recipe, you will have an easier time using up all of the ingredients you purchased
Buy the correct-sized turkey
You should purchase 1 and a half pounds of turkey per guest, or 8 ounces per person if it is boneless. This should give you enough meat to make sure everyone is satisfied, but not so much that finishing the leftovers is impossible.
Save the scraps
As you cook, you’re probably chopping off bits and pieces here and there. Save these in an airtight bag to make some delicious and nutritious broths! Use the vegetable bits for a veggie broth and the bones from the turkey to make a bone broth. (Don’t combine your veggie scraps with bones!) Save these in the freezer until you are ready to prepare the broth. The scraps will keep for up to 6 months! These are great recipes if you’ve never tried a bone broth or a veggie broth from scratch before.
Prepare food with what you have leftover in the kitchen
No matter how prepared you are with the recipe and food prep, you’ll probably have some food leftover. What do you do with the bag of carrots you have left? Look up recipes based on the ingredients in your pantry with sites like SuperCook and MyFridgeFood.
Save the leftovers
Throughout the year, leftovers are one of the biggest food-waste culprits. Make sure that you label your leftovers, especially if you have them in an opaque container. It’s also helpful to write the date you prepared the food on the leftovers so that you know what to eat first. Masking tape is great for this. Move these leftovers to the front of the fridge. Play some Tetris if you have to!
Have a day dedicated to eating your leftovers
Bring them to work with you and eat them for lunch. Get creative with the leftovers. Make the turkey into sandwiches and combine with the cranberry sauce for a tasty treat. Or throw some barbeque sauce on it. If you have a hard time finishing the leftovers because you get bored of the taste, mix it up with other foods! Throw some turkey in the broth you’ve made out of the scraps and prepare a stew.
Compost the rest
If you’ve got food that’s inedible, or you just can’t finish it and it’s gone bad, the best thing to do is to compost it. By letting food decompose in the correct environment, you are allowing it to break down much quicker and reduce the carbon emissions the rotting process gives off. If composting is new to you, check out our beginner guide on composting.
Recovered turkeys from grocers during the 2021 holiday season.
Donate the extra to food drives
If you have unopened cans or nonperishable goods you didn’t end up preparing, local food banks would be happy to take it! There are always lots of good options run by local organizations for food drives if you don’t happen to know of any within your community.
While you celebrate the holidays, consider making a donation to We Don’t Waste to help provide meals for families and individuals experiencing food insecurity. Your gift provides our community with health, strength, and happiness; and the impact is DOUBLED thanks to a gift match!
You are the special ingredient in improving our community!
Boo! Is there anything spookier than food waste? We don’t think so. That’s why we’ve compiled some ways to make your upcoming Halloween celebrations more sustainable and waste-free!
Use a reusable bag for your trick-or-treating! The classic pillowcase has never gone out of style and can fit a massive amount of candy.
Use eco-friendly alternatives to treats. Use bulk candy in cardboard or cloth reusable bags for your friends. As for the neighborhood kids, individually wrapped candy is definitely the safer way to share food with strangers, but throw in other 10-cent treats like pencils, temporary tattoos, and more if you don’t want to buy the large plastic bags of candy full of many smaller plastic bags!
Don’t recycle candy wrappers. Most recycling plants do not accept the plastic wrap and will have to turn away massive loads of recycling if too much of the load isn’t recyclable. It’s best just to put these in the trash to ensure your recycling is actually recycled.
But keep your aluminum! Aluminum foil covering like on Hershey’s kisses can be recycled if clean and clumped into a larger ball. Keep combining the aluminum foil with more aluminum products until it’s about the size of your fist, and it’s good to recycle.
Hosting a party? Save the leftovers and compost the rest. Those trays and trays of spooky treats you made shouldn’t go to waste! Send people home with leftovers, or compost the remaining ghoulish greens.
Use compostable silverware and cups! It will make the clean-up easier, and you don’t have to throw away more plastic.
Prepare for the pumpkin-pocolypse! About 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in the trash at the start of November (which creates a HUGE amount of methane). Here are 46 pumpkin-centric recipes that you can try to use up the remaining pumpkins after the festivities. And don’t forget, compost what you don’t eat (but only if they aren’t painted, acrylic paint doesn’t decompose well). The graveyard of pumpkins will eventually break down into a nutritious treat for your garden or someone else’s if your city has a composting program.
Thrift your costume! Most costumes now are made with a lot of plastic fabrics, and despite costing an arm and a leg, you probably don’t want to wear the costume more than once. Get more bang for your buck by using your creativity and thrifting pieces for your costume.
To build on the last point, donate your costume! You may have worn it three times in one weekend, but your costume will be brand new to someone else.
Today September 28th, the White House will gather with hundreds of advocates, educators, health care professionals, lawmakers, cabinet officials and everyday Americans to discuss the state of hunger and food security in the U.S. This conference aims to identify the solutions to hunger and nutrition-related diseases and create clear courses of action on a systemic level and an individual level.
The hope is that the focus on these issues will be transformational for the systems in place currently, and can lead to the addition of entirely new programs. The first conference that took place over 50 years ago led to the creation of the first major underpinnings of hunger-relief programs that still run today, including:
Significant expansion of the National School Lunch Program and the Food Stamp Program (known today as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP),
Permanent authorization of the School Breakfast Program,
Launch of a pilot program that would later become the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and
The first ever Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
These programs quickly became integral resources for Americans. Over the last 50 years, our federal nutrition assistance programs have grown to serve about one in four Americans each year. For so many Americans, balancing the increasing costs of food, rent (we’re looking at you, Colorado) and utilities leave little room for savings or emergencies when wages remain slower to grow.
This conference comes after one of the biggest jumps for food costs in one month, with food prices rising 13.5% year-over-year in August according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the largest 12-month increase since 1979, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Recently, the free school lunch program ended across the country, leaving millions of families scrambling to rearrange their budget to cover their children’s additional meals each week. Some 330,000 students, or 37% of total enrollment, were eligible for free or reduced school meals in 2021 across the state.
This November, the Healthy School Meals For All policy goes up for vote in Colorado. This would reinstate the free school lunch program, and make nutritious meals available to every growing child in our state. Ashley Wheeland, public policy director for Hunger Free Colorado, estimates the program would save struggling Colorado families $78 million a year. Those savings in turn can help them keep up with bills and other needs. With the expiration of the child tax credit and other pandemic-era help, the help is even more desperately needed, she said.
Hunger rates also rose this summer when supply chain interruptions began to impact local grocers. Food insecurity for families with children climbed to 16.21% by July 11, when nearly 1 in 6 families reported sometimes or often not having enough to eat, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey, the highest since December 2020.
Escalating food prices are eroding the reach of SNAP dollars, which average around $231 per person per month in 2022, according to USDA data, sending more people to food pantries, which are in turn receiving less food from the government. In August 2022, the agency announced a cost-of-living adjustment beginning Oct. 1, increasing maximum monthly SNAP allotments for a family of four from $835 to $939 a month.
So there are a lot of moving pieces, but where does this leave food banks, food recovery agencies, and more? Supply chain issues are still causing issues in stocking our grocery stores, leaving costs inflated and less food available for recovery. And it’s not just individuals who are feeling the squeeze, as food pantries and other hunger-fighting organizations are also spending more on their grocery bill each week.
If you would like to help, please consider supporting We Don’t Waste. Our vision is that nutritious food will be accessible to all, and with your support, we can make it happen. Let’s do this!
Last year, we shared our seven essential reads on food systems covering many different aspects of food systems and food cultures. This year we have an updated collection of books for you to add to your summer reading list! Whether you’re interested in growing food, cooking it, eating it, or just learning more about food and all of the many ways it plays into our lives, we’ve got something for you!
Retail Inequality by Kenneth H. Kolb
We Don’t Waste in the business of making sure everyone, no matter their background, has equal access to nutritious food. For us, that means we provide free food to communities across Denver in areas considered to be “food deserts” or “food apartheids.” These are neighborhoods that lack multiple options for affordable, nutritious food. “Food apartheid” addresses the nature of intentional scarcity by the strategic placement of retail stores and whole-food markets in wealthy neighborhoods. Kolb takes a deep dive into two neighborhoods in Greenville, South Carolina, that have spent decades without access to nutritious food, and how the retail and food industry, and even public policy, contribute to the unequal access present in these communities.
Foodtopia by Margot Anne Kelley
Food isn’t just about nutrition and survival, but is also intrinsically tied to our lifestyle. Throughout America’s industrial and capitalistic history, there have continually been surges of the “back of the yard” counterculture movement. Through gardens, homesteads, and moving out to land far from the city centers, Kelley covers 5 groups—from the 1840s up through the COVID-19 pandemic—that have taken food production into their own hands in a form of radical self-sustenance. Fueled by the drive for furthering the sustainability of our land and water resources, racial equity, anti-consumerism, and control of their health through food, these groups found independence and their own “Foodtopias” in their backyard.
To Boldly Grow byTamar Haspel
Part memoir and part how-to guide, self-proclaimed “crappy gardener” Haspel shares the story of how she and her husband decided to reclaim their diets by growing their own food, keeping chickens, fishing, and even going out into the woods to forage for mushrooms, root bulbs, and anything else they find that is edible! Haspel’s goal is to prove that going out and making food or finding it ourselves really isn’t as difficult as it’s made out to be, as she shared her stories of triumph in MacGyvering harvesting tools, and by sharing the spectacular failures that ruined Thanksgiving dinner. In the end, Haspel discovers how the way we interact with and consume our food can change the way we think about our food—and even ourselves.
Getting Something to Eat in Jackson by Joseph C. Edwoozie, Jr.
Edwoozie, Jr. takes a deep dive into the way “foodways”—food availability, choice, and consumption—are changing in Jackson, Mississippi, and how the changing culture surrounding race is impacting food culture, and vice versa. Historically, food in Jackson had been a unifying force for Black Jacksonians in Mississippi, but as Edwoozie, Jr. discovers, the way people consume food has changed because of the existence of food deserts, the perception and reality of class differences, and how vegetarianism and veganism as a way to address health outcomes have all but displaced the traditional culture of “soul food” in the urban south. Edwoozie, Jr. spends a year following a diverse socioeconomic array of Jacksonians and discovers the habits and trends of the modern food culture and how it reflects societal changes in the area.
I Am From Here by Viswath Bhatt
There are few things more comforting than a home-cooked meal, and for Bhatt, this would be a combination of American Southern food and traditional Indian cuisine. Bhatt has been the executive chef of the Snackbar in Oxford, Mississippi since 2009, earning him Best Chef: South (2019 James Beard Awards) and induction into the Fellowship of Southern Farmers, Artisans, and Chefs in 2022. This collection of stories and instruction includes over 130 recipes inviting you to grill, fry, and boil your way into a more delicious dinner evoking the flavors of an evolving southern cuisine.
What Your Food Ate by David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé
When you think of the quality and the health benefits of the meat you eat, you’re also probably thinking about the things that animal was eating while it was alive. Montgomery and Bilke argue that the same standard should be applied to the plants we eat as well! Combining multiple scientific disciplines and weaving them into one cohesive story, Montgomery and Bilke show how the health of our soil has a direct impact on the quality of the food we consume and the health of humans as a whole. Can we produce enough quantity and quality food? We’ve got to heal the sick soil to do that, and the results of this could help reverse the modern epidemic of chronic diseases and mitigate climate change.
The Regenerative Garden by Stephanie Rose
Discover how you can work with nature, as opposed to against it, by employing permaculture techniques in your garden. Through 80 different DIY projects, you can explore how to make your garden more eco-conscious and more resilient. Whether you’re working with an acre, a small raised bed, growing a grove of trees, or a single tomato plant, there are plenty of tricks and habits for you to implement to make permaculture accessible and working hard for your garden.
Iwigara by Enrique Salmón
The belief that all life-forms are interconnected and share the same breath—known in the Rarámuri tribe as iwígara—has resulted in a treasury of knowledge about the natural world, passed down for millennia by native cultures. Ethnobotanist Enrique Salmón builds on this concept of connection and highlights 80 plants revered by North America’s indigenous peoples. Salmón teaches us the ways plants are used as food and medicine, the details of their identification and harvest, and their important health benefits, plus their role in traditional stories and myths.
How We Eat by Paco Underhill
In this upbeat and witty approach, How We Eat reveals the future of food in surprising ways. Go to the heart of New York City, where a popular farmer’s market signifies how the city is getting country-fied, or to cool Brooklyn neighborhoods with rooftop farms. Explore the dreaded supermarket parking lot as the hub of innovation for grocery stores’ futures, or how marijuana farmers, who have been using artificial light to grow a crop for years, have developed a playbook on indoor farming for mainstream merchants like Walmart and farmers across the world. In How We Eat, Underhill shows how food intersects with every major battle we face today, from political and environmental to economic and racial, and invites you to the market to discover more.
Recovered food is sourced from countless businesses, and is donated for equally as many reasons. Some food comes from the excess that is produced intentionally to cover customer satisfaction in the event of an exchange or return. Other food items get caught in traffic during transit and arrive too late for grocers to meet the “sell-by” date. What is common across the country and throughout the entire food industry is the immense amount of food that never makes it to people’s dinner plates.
The Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act was passed in 1996 to shield food donors from criminal and civil liability, and as a result, encourage more food donations. The burden of food safety is transferred to the nonprofits and organizations receiving the food, and businesses are free to decide what food they donate.
It seems counterintuitive, but the Act is regularly cited by businesses as the reason they choose not to donate food. Something has to change when the Act that is meant to protect donors becomes a confusing and discouraging hurdle.
This is where the new, proposed Food Donation Improvement Act comes into play. It would update the 1996 Act, making it easier for people to donate food and to feel more comfortable with the process. The current Act does not have a specific agency in charge of clarifying the details, nor does it explicitly address many of the common circumstances in which a business or farm might donate food. Many business owners find the vague language concerning, and don’t have an immediate or official source of guidance.
The update would require the USDA to release regulations clarifying the protections that exist, the businesses and agencies that can donate, and which businesses (nonprofits, schools, food banks, etc.) they can donate food to.
In addition to the clarification, it would also extend liability protection to food businesses and farms that want to donate food directly to people in need without going through a registered nonprofit. A restaurant shut down by the pandemic that wants to serve community meals would be protected, as would a school that wants to send surplus food from meal programs home with low-income families. Finally, it would also cover organizations and companies that want to take surplus food and sell it at a very low cost—such as nonprofit grocery stores that accept donations.
The response to the Food Donation Improvement Act has been overwhelmingly positive from lawmakers and policy experts, with the sentiment being that making food donation easier is just common sense. It is a straightforward way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a national scale and will increase food access as well.
And while activists acknowledge that the bill alone will not solve hunger, it represents an important step in reducing food insecurity and protecting the environment. Chef and advocate Tom Colicchio also argues that preventing food waste is a matter of showing respect for the food that nourishes eaters and the workers who produce it. By wasting food, he says, “we’re devaluing not just the food, but we’re devaluing the people who are responsible for feeding us.”
We Don’t Waste has signed the petition in support of this act, as it directly aligns with our goal of using food recovery and distribution as a means to support our environment and increase food access in our communities. To learn more and support this initiative, sign the petition here.
It’s Pride Month—a time to celebrate the diversity in Denver and the richness it brings to our community! But, while we celebrate, it is also important to reflect on the inequities in the present that we can work to solve. Though LGBTQ Americans have seen rapid advancements in both societal acceptance and civil rights protections in recent years, food insecurity continues to affect the community at higher rates than the general population.
In 2021, (for the first time ever!) the U.S. Census Bureau asked about sexual orientation and gender identity in the Household Pulse Survey. This survey was sent to measure different social and economic experiences of U.S. households throughout the pandemic, and as a result, can compare the experiences of LGBTQ adults with other groups.
Of the more than 64,000 people who responded to the bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey, over 13% of LGBTQ adults reported living in a household that experienced food insecurity in the past seven days, compared to 7.2% of non-LGBTQ adults. If there was any uncertainty about a discrepancy in the demographics, there is none now.
The survey also revealed the extent to which many LGBTQ Americans are struggling with economic insecurity. According to the results, 36.6% of LGBTQ adults reported living in a household that struggled to pay for expenses in the past seven days, with over 8% saying they were not confident they could afford to make their next housing payment on time. By comparison, just over one-quarter of adults who do not identify as LGBTQ reported experiencing economic insecurity.
A recent Gallup survey shows that 5.6% of the American population currently identifies as LGBTQ. The problem is not insignificant.
Fortunately, there are lots of organizations in Denver working to support LGBTQ youth and adults. Some of the larger organizations like The Center on Colfax and One Colorado are working to support the community through a long list of programs and free resources from mental health to legal representation.
There are a few organizations We Don’t Waste works with directly that help fight food insecurity in the LGBT community as well. We provide food to the Colorado AIDS Project as a part of the Colorado Health Network, and The Delores Project, which provides shelter to women and transgender individuals experiencing homelessness. We Don’t Waste began working with the The Delores Project in 2011 and has been delivering food to support their food programs on-and-off since.
“What began as a winter-only shelter has now morphed into a robust 24/7 low-barrier, housing-focused 50-bed shelter with rehousing case management and wrap-around support. Our team embraces a housing-first model of care, working to get individuals out of the shelter system and into housing as quickly and safely as possible while providing the necessary support before, during, and after the transition into housing,” says Stephanie Miller, CEO of The Delores Project.
Being a 24/7 shelter means providing regular food to their program participants, and lots of it! The Delores Project serves three meals and two snacks a day to their residents alongside many other essential services. Food program costs can be a massive financial burden for nonprofit organizations, especially with rising grocery costs due to recent inflation rates. Fortunately for The Delores Project, they receive some help from the community.
“About 52% of the meals served in our shelter is donated,” Stephanie says. A few thousand pounds of that each month comes as a recovered food from We Don’t Waste!
In addition to the meals, they offer a food pantry for their residents in shelter and those transitioning out of shelter and into permanent housing. It’s just one of the many ways they help create longterm solutions for the women, seniors, and transgender adults that seek support through their programs. Through free shelter, meals, mental-health education, and transitional housing programs, The Delores Project has created a system that allows for dozens of adults each year to transition from homelessness into stable and secure independence.
One of the ways We Don’t Waste is unique as an organization is our network of nonprofit partners, through which we are able to distribute millions of servings of food each month. Through our connection with The Delores Project, we are able to contribute to hundreds of free, nutritious meals each month for transgender and gender-expansive people in an environment where they can thrive in a community of specialized support.
Eco-anxiety, climate change anxiety, environmental paralysis. It goes by many names but can be described as the overwhelming feeling of stress and despair you get when you consider the environmental damage done by humans in the last century. It’s a complex feeling, and can be a different experience from person to person.
You’re browsing the news and you see that another species has gone extinct, or a photo of our oceans full of plastic. This can inspire feelings of guilt, stress, anxiety, or even grief. It is concerning, and you should respond with concern to news like this because you care about the future of our planet; that said, it is important to re-center ourselves, and not let the despair prevent us from taking action.
After all, there is more news coming out and studies published every day that show that many environmental problems are reversible, and with some effort, we have seen some pretty major environmental impacts out of efforts made around the world.
So what do we do to get over that feeling?
Do something about it!
It can feel impossible to make an impact when a lot of the damage is being done by multinational corporations, but there are ways you can make a major difference in your own neighborhood! Action is the best way to get over the feeling of hopelessness. Volunteer with a local organization working to make a change in your backyard! We Don’t Waste works to support our local environment by preventing as much food from going to our landfills as possible (which prevents highly volatile methane emissions). DUG and RE:Vision both allow you to participate in local community gardens and create free food for those in need.
Take a break from the news.
It can be hard to escape bad news when it seems to be the only kind of news presented to us on a daily basis. Try to go a day or two without looking at the news. Unless your job requires you to stay up to date on everything the minute it’s happening, you won’t be too out of the loop by giving yourself a short break. In fact, studies show that we often consume too much media, which causes our nervous system to be overloaded with information and can lead to increased stress and anxiety in our daily lives.
Focus on the GOOD
Believe it or not, there are countless groups working around the clock, all over the world, that are making a difference every day! There have been incredible innovations in green technology, more global political support, greater importance placed on systemic issues, and measures being taken to protect the most at-risk and important ecology. Did you know that there is a species of fungi that can eat and decompose plastic? And there are kelp forests being planted in the ocean to absorb atmospheric carbon and sink it deep into the ocean where it can be consumed by fish and completely removed from the cycle. How cool is that!
If podcasts are your thing, the Intersectional Environmentalist runs a podcast, The Joy Report, that focuses on news in climate solutions and environmental justice, but exclusively from an optimistic and joyful perspective!
Let the feelings out, and let others know
You are not the only person experiencing these feelings. As more and more people become aware of the importance and the severity of climate change, more are experiencing eco-anxiety. In the first tip, we mentioned volunteering with local environmentally-based nonprofits. These can be a great way to connect you with other people working to heal our planet. There are also lots of clubs and groups that meet virtually and in-person that can offer you some support. Look for Facebook groups in your area focused on conservation efforts, or organizations supporting political action in your local government.
Make sustainable changes at home
Sometimes even the smallest changes in your daily routine can lead to a larger personal impact, and can help reduce those feelings of helplessness over time. You can reduce your single-use plastic by swapping out products you currently use with others using more sustainable packaging like recycled cardboard or glass. Buy fruits and vegetables that aren’t packaged in plastic, and use your own produce bags when you shop.
It can be small changes like setting a timer for your showers or something as large as installing solar panels on your home. Everyone has access to different solutions, and what you can incorporate into your lifestyle will be different from your neighbor. Just figure out what makes sense for you, and don’t try to change everything at once! Not only will it feel good to make these changes in your life, but you’re voting with your dollar, a powerful tool for change.
Learn more about climate solutions
By better understanding the issues surrounding climate change and environmentalism, you won’t fall prey to the dramaticized and melodramatic news stories meant to make you click on an article out of fear and confusion. It can also help you feel more connected to the planet, and inspire feelings of wonder and admiration for the planet we live on.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer is an excellent example of compassion and appreciation for nature from an indigenous lens, and one that sees plants as our partners on the planet, not as tools.
How to Be a Climate Optimist by Chris Turner covers a dozen climate-related projects around the world, all working to save our planet with innovative technology and proactive communities.
There are many ways to consider eco-anxiety and how it may play a role in our sustainability journey. Remember to validate your concerns without dismissing your power to drive change. Feel your feelings and let them motivate you to take action. Eco-anxiety may be a familiar or foreign feeling to you, but regardless, we have many opportunities to healthily manage our emotions and transform our worries into meaningful action.
Food Waste Prevention Week is April 4th – April 8th, and we invite you to celebrate with us! Food waste is something many American households struggle with, but, fortunately, there are some easy ways to reduce it and make a BIG impact.
Food waste costs you! Every year, the average household spends $1,600 on food that ends up in the trash. Nobody wants to lose that money!
It also wastes the time and the effort of the countless people working hard fertilizing, watering, harvesting, and delivering that food to your door. And that’s not all; the wasted food does further damage to our beloved outdoor space.
Let’s get started!
Follow us on social media! We will be sharing tips and tricks and playing food waste prevention bingo all week. We will be giving away some sweet prizes to random winners who participate in the bingo!
After you have saved or printed your bingo card, try to complete as many of the bingo squares as you can throughout the week. Take a photo of yourself completing an activity on the bingo card and tag us @WeDontWaste on Instagram and @WeDontWasteDenver on Facebook. You can also send it through direct message, or email Caroline@WeDontWaste.org to share your entry! Random winners will be selected at the end of the week to receive We Don’t Waste merch!
You can also play Save The Food’s Bingo Card for another chance to win a prize!
Subscribe to our Newsletter! We will send more tips and tricks and keep you updated on We Don’t Waste’s impact on the community!
If you’d like to get the young ones at home involved (or just want to relax with a good coloring session, print out our Food Recovery coloring page!
Keep reading for more tips! We have compiled some tips from SaveTheFood.com on storing some of the most popular and common foods you’ll find in any home. Next time you find yourself looking for an easy trick to make a change, refer back to this guide!
These days avocados are everywhere. Here are some tips to keep them ripe and ready:
• Your avocados ripen best if you keep them on the counter.
• Avocados adore the dark, so keep them out of direct sunlight.
• Once they are ripe, you can keep them a few days longer if you store them in the fridge.
• Once you open an avocado, if you are not eating the full thing in one sitting, you can keep it fresh in the fridge by placing the side with the pit still in it face down in a little water in a container. Or dampen with water, oil, or lemon juice and store in a bag in the fridge.
Potatoes, Onions, Garlic
These common comfort food ingredients prefer to be alone in the dark:
• Keep them cool and dry —To keep your potatoes and onions fresh for longer, store them in a cool, dry place.
• Keep them separated — These vegetables don’t play nice together in the cupboard. Potatoes stored with onions will sprout and rot more quickly than if they are stored separately. So keep them away from each other.
To keep your oranges and grapefruit sweet and juicy, you want to keep them cold and dry:
• Citrus will last about a week on the counter but can keep fresh up to a month in the fridge.
• Make sure your oranges and grapefruits are dry before you store them in the fridge. This will reduce rot and prevent spoilage.
As for lemons, they retain their punch if stored in the fridge in a sealed bag or container.
Cold, fresh milk beats spoiled milk any day. Here’s how we can make the most of our milk, keeping it freshest longest:
• Milk stays best in the coldest part of the fridge — If you can, store it towards the back of the fridge, and on the lowest shelf (that’s normally the coolest part of your fridge). And check your fridge temperature if you can — the best temperature for milk to prevent it from going bad is just above freezing between 33 to 37 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Milk can be frozen to keep even longer — If you have more than you need, you can freeze milk to preserve it for up to six months. Pro tip: Milk expands when frozen so remove 1 cup of milk from the container before freezing. Once ready to drink, defrost in the refrigerator.
Asparagus is one of the first vegetables of spring. Farmers cut young stalks when they peak six to ten inches above the soil line and rush the tender green shoots to our tables. The season is short and plentiful, and we can buy in bulk when it’s cheapest and save for later. Asparagus will keep 10 days to 2 weeks in the fridge and can be frozen too. A few tips for keeping it crisp and happy in the fridge:
• It likes to be cold, but not too cold — Keep it in a crisper drawer or towards the front of the fridge.
• Asparagus is thirsty — If possible stand it up in a couple of inches of water to keep it from drying out. Trim the ends ¼ inch before putting it in a jar with water as you would fresh flowers. Change the water if you see it getting cloudy.
• If you don’t have room to stand it up, wrap it and let it lie down — Trim and wrap the bottom of the bunch in a damp paper towel and store in a crisper drawer or on a shelf toward the front of the fridge.
•To freeze, a little prep time will go a long way: Trim and Blanche – Cut or snap off woody bottom of the stems (bonus: store separately for asparagus soup). Drop-in boiling water for 2 minutes to blanche then drop in ice water to stop the cooking. Dry it well, if possible freeze it first on a cookie/sheet pan and then transfer to a storage container. It’ll last for up to one year.
•Cook it straight from the freezer — No need to defrost. When ready to use, cook straight out of the freeze
As the weather turns warmer, fresh crisp salads and lighter foods, in general, maybe on the menu more often at home. But what if we’re getting our greens only every week or so?. Here are a few tricks to keep our greens from turning limp and mushy:
• Keep them dry — Washed or unwashed, wrap them loosely in dry paper or cloth towel to absorb the moisture that rots them quickly.
• Keep them cold but not too cold — Keep them in the crisper drawer or on a shelf towards the front of the fridge.
• Give them air and space — Place wrapped greens directly in the fridge or place in a covered but unsealed container that lets airflow. Keep them away from other fruits that produce ethylene gas and will accelerate the rotting of your greens, such as apples, peaches and pears.
More than half of all kids say that strawberries are their favorite fruit, and it’s easy to understand why. This bright, sweet, colorful early summer treat can be eaten alone or as the star of a recipe. Some tips to keep them from going soft on us too quickly:
• Keep them cold and dry — Store them in the original container in the fridge and hold off on washing until you’re ready to eat them. This is a good tip for all berries!
• Don’t let a bad strawberry spoil the rest — Sort through your berries before you refrigerate and pick out any that are moldy or spoiled.
• Freeze for later — To enjoy the bright sweet taste of summer throughout the year, you can freeze fresh whole or sliced berries. To freeze, rinse, remove the green stems and caps, dry well, and freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen solid, place in sealed containers and return to the freezer.
Cherries love the cold. Store them in the fridge and they will keep fresh longer. An hour of room temp storage is equal to a week in the fridge when it comes to preserving taste and texture.
•Don’t wash until you are ready to enjoy your cherries.
•Freeze cherries whole, first in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen solid and then transfer to a sealed storage container and return to the freezer.
Peaches should be stored at room temperature and eaten when you feel a ‘little give’ with a gentle squeeze.
•Once peaches are ripe, you can move them from the counter to the fridge to keep ripe for about a week.
•Peaches prefer to hang out alone – keeping them separated from other fruits will keep them fresh and tasty longer
•Freezing peaches when fresh and in season is a great idea — you can rinse and cut peaches into slices, soak in a water/ lemon juice bath (to prevent browning use about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to 4 cups of water) and freeze first on a cookie sheet for 4 to 24 hours. Next transfer to an airtight storage container and return to the freezer, where they will last up to1 year
Room temperature is best – Tomatoes retain their flavor and ripen best at room temperature rather than in the fridge. So best to store on the counter, out of direct sunlight in a single layer stem side down.
•Happiest alone – Tomatoes ripen best if kept apart from other summer fruits and vegetables.
•Extend their life in the fridge – Once ripe, if you’re not using them immediately you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge, where they will generally retain their form and flavor for up to a week.
•Freeze whole – If you have an excess of ripe tomatoes, you can freeze whole to use later for soups, stews or sauce. Just remove the stems and freeze (optional, remove core). If you have the space and time, flash freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet until frozen solid then move to sealed containers and return to freezer. Or simply place fresh tomatoes in storage containers and set in the freezer. Defrost, core and use as you would canned tomatoes.
Broccoli is delicious. Here are a couple of tips to keep this favorite fresh:
• Broccoli prefers to be cold and slightly damp and likes air circulation. The best two options for storing it in the fridge for up to a week:
• Wrap in a slightly damp towel before putting your broccoli in the fridge.
• Stand a full head of broccoli in the fridge in a glass so air can circulate around its head as if it were flowers in a vase.
• If you want to keep it fresh for longer, you can prep and freeze:
• Cut the florets (the bushy part) from the stem, drop in boiling water for just a minute or two to blanche, let it dry well, and then store in a sealed bag or container in the freezer. This will keep in the freshness –blanched, frozen broccoli can last up to 1 year in the freezer.
If you’re looking for more active ways to get involved throughout the year, check out our volunteer opportunities! You can also make a lasting impact by making a donation. However you choose to get involved, your support helps us recover more food and feed more Coloradans.