America's 'Recycle Day': Feeding Mouths, Not Landfills

By: Saira Malhotra

November 15th marked the 12th successful year of Americas 'Recycle Day'. A prompt to tie up ones shoe laces, this day serves to remind and encourage Americans to both recycle and purchase recycled products. Apart from the basic lesson of avoiding wastage and the over-production of materials, such as plastic, cardboard and glass, there are other efforts being made to divert tons of material being dumped at landfills by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their partners: the New Jersey Devils, the National Hockey League and the Boston Bruins. The Boston Bruins has taken it a step further and as reported by the EPA, the team is spearheading efforts to redirect prepared, unused and safe-to-eat food from landfills to the Boston Rescue Mission.

The benefits of such steps are multifaceted. Not only does the food come to the assistance of people in need, it also brings about some relief to the ever-burgeoning landfills. The program is implemented by another key player, Rock and Wrap It Up!, who assist in redistributing 105 tons of prepared and safe-to-eat food throughout North America.

In a country where food insecurity is on the rise, each year, the United States is responsible for 35 million tons of food waste. A significant percentage of this food is safe and unused and could feed the mouths of millions of Americans. This is why the work undertaken by the New Jersey Devils, the National Hockey League, the Boston Bruins and Rock and Wrap It Up! has not gone unnoticed and as Ira Leighton, deputy regional administrator of the EPA states "Just as all of us in Boston celebrated our Bruins winning the Stanley Cup last June, EPA also applauds the great work being done by the Bruins, the Devils and across the NHL along with Rock and Wrap It Up! to keep edible food from filling up the nation's landfills....Donating untouched and completely edible food to shelters not only does a great public service to people in need, it also provides a great environmental benefit."

What's the low down of food wastage on the environment? The news is grim as the decomposition of food leads to the emission of methane gas, a gas that is 21 times stronger than carbon dioxide. In the U.S, landfills and food waste are responsible for 20% of methane emissions leaving the Greenhouse effect in full swing. If the food is edible and not tampered with, it can be passed on to mouths that welcome it. Scraps and left overs, can also be called into action in the form of compost which serves to reinforce soil and reduce the need for supplemental water, fertilizers, and pesticides.

Now, to turn the lens towards providing meals to families, the results have been remarkable. Among others, The New Jersey Devils have converted 9,550 pounds of food to approximately 7,346 meals and as a result have prevented the emission of 8,818 pounds of carbon dioxide. The Boston Bruins have managed to donate 3,796 meals within the 2010/2011 NHL season alone. The impact of these measures are critical and timely as efforts for straightening out the environment and helping people cope with their food insecurity challenges are on an all-time high.

Americas 'Recycle Day' has the objective of taking recycling from a level of conversation to a level of household implementation. This work has already led to millions of Americans understanding their role in this push for 'recycling'. They are responding by executing measures at home and in the work place and making consciously environmental consumer choices.

How often do you recycle?

Photo: andyarthur

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