Cultivating Sustainable Food and Fuel for America
Sustainable America was founded in 2012. Our unique approach to improving the sustainability of our country’s food and transportation fuel systems calls for us to:
· Educate: raising awareness of the food and fuel issues facing our country;
· Engage: working with the public to change their behaviors to be more sustainable; and
· Invest: supporting new innovations in sustainability that can transform the marketplace.
We work to not only identify actions that can be taken, but to emphasize that all actions–however small or large–make a difference and that individual decisions do matter.
Our Areas of Expertise: Food
As the global population increases and demand from growing middle and upper classes in emerging nations rises, the amount of food needed to feed the world will continue to grow. This growth will need to be met by the world’s food production systems, which face many challenges stemming from the availability of arable land, questions over whether crop yields can continue to grow fast enough and increasingly unpredictable and extreme weather.
Sustainable America is working to improve the food situation by implementing two specific programs.
Food Waste Management in Stadiums, Hotels and Restaurants
In this program, we focus our food waste efforts on sport stadiums, hotels, restaurants and food retailers. We work with these institutions to reduce food waste at its source, and to divert otherwise wasted food to food rescue organizations or to other valuable products like compost or natural gas. We educate patrons about these issues, and give them information to reduce their food waste at home. We work with restaurant owners to help them save money on their food costs. We also work with community leaders to help them launch their own programs to advance this important cause. The stadium aspect of this effort, known as Greening the Field, is pursued in partnership with the Natural Resources Defense Council, which works with major sports stadiums across the country.
Zero Waste Event Support
We have a range of services to organizations to help them run their events in a more environmentally responsible manner–approaching zero-waste. These services include identifying and helping to procure compostable materials, securing and training volunteers, separating waste streams, working with a hauler to carry the waste streams to the right destinations and identifying a compost or anaerobic digestion facility to receive it all and turn it into valuable products. We have implemented this program at events throughout the country, including SXSW Eco Conference, LiveGreen Connecticut and the Kentucky Derby Festival.
Our Areas of Expertise: Fuel
Americans consume almost 19 million barrels of oil every day, and fully 70 percent of this oil is used for transportation. Globally, spare capacity is less than 3 percent, meaning the ability to produce more oil in response to potential crises is extremely limited. Much of this oil comes from politically volatile regions in the world, and indeed, recent events in places like Russia place uncertainty on global fuel supplies.
Sustainable America is working to improve the transportation fuel situation by implementing two specific programs.
Anti-idling in Vehicle Fleets
The Department of Energy notes that Americans waste 200,000 barrels of oil every day idling their car and truck engines unnecessarily. Each of us can do a few simple tasks to save $50-100 in gas per year. That’s a free tank of gas. Multiplied by all Americans, we can reduce our dependence on oil, improve the air we breathe and save money.
We are expanding our anti-idling campaign work to larger-scale users of fuel in vehicle fleets. We are working to help companies recognize the fuel savings and environmental benefits of reducing engine idling, and to give drivers of company fleet vehicles the tools to reduce their own fuel use. We saved one partner $5,000 in fuel in just over a month, and will work with other fleet managers to help them find similar cost savings.
Sustainability Improvements in Universities, Colleges and Municipalities
Universities and municipalities have the ability to influence a large number of drivers, including professional drivers (piloting dump trucks, buses, police cars, maintenance equipment and shuttles) and private drivers such as parents, teachers, students, commuters and government employees. Our engagement in this program considers vehicle use across this fleet of different vehicles and drivers. We have made inroads on this project in universities throughout New England.
Our Areas of Expertise: Investments
Sustainable America believes in investing in companies that are developing new advances in sustainable technologies to bring these ideas to market and make sustainability more attainable and more economical. We identify promising companies through our own due diligence and through partnerships that we have developed with a number of incubators, universities and accelerators in various parts of the country. Our investment approach follows four principles:
1. Focus on opportunities that support our food and fuel sustainability mission;
2. Scalable companies that can grow and make a wide-spread, systemic difference;
3. Measureable products that can impact food or fuel sustainability; and
4. Profitable enterprises that can eventually provide a financial return, so that the proceeds from an investment can be re-invested into other ventures.
Sustainable America is a non-profit environmental organization. We serve an important goal, but we can’t do it without your support. Make a tax-deductible donation to support our work in improving the sustainability of our nation’s food and fuel systems.
Sustainable America is working constantly to make America’s food and transportation fuel systems more resilient. You can follow our activities by signing up for our weekly email newsletter. Sign up. Stay informed. Stay engaged.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.