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Austin Food Businesses Required to Compost Leftover Food by 2017

Austin Food Businesses Required to Compost Leftover Food by 2017


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New legislation has mandated that Austin restaurants recycle all their food waste by 2017

After a year and a half of planning, Austin, Texas implemented new legislation that will require all food businesses in the city to compost their extra food by 2017, Waste & Recycling News reports. This is the city’s latest move towards achieving their goal of rerouting 90% of waste away from landfills by 2040.

However, some establishments might be less willing to comply. It costs roughly $300 to maintain a recycling program each month, and financially shaky restaurants might not have that freedom. Additionally, restaurants located in downtown Austin might not have room to compost.

This regulation seems to be a step in the right direction for the city. Downtown Austin’s “Dirty Sixth,” a street known to be popular for bars, tourists and students, is occasionally covered in trash. Drew Curren, chef and partner at the ELM Restaurant Group, told the Austin Chronicle that in 2012, “we had to call 911 two to three times a day.” However, an initiative has been implemented to clean the area by way of clean up crews and introducing new ways to dispose of waste.

There has also been some recent news about using food waste to enhance other foods, although we're not sure how we feel about that. ScienceDaily noted that the PROSPARE project in Europe encourages reusing discarded meat proteins to enhance the nutritional value of ice cream, and using excess fish proteins to make sports diet supplements.


3 Ways to Start Composting

This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure policy here.

Creating compost and using it in our gardens is one of the best things you can do for the environment and for your garden. Here are 3 ways to start composting.

Compost is nature&rsquos recycling bin by taking all the vegetative and brown waste and turning it into soil that is rich in nutrients. Compost is the best amendment you can add to your garden or potting soil. A big misconception is that compost is smelly and attracts bugs. Having microscopic bugs and earthworms in your compost pile is essential as they are the ones eating the refuse and producing that awesome compost. Bugs and the compost they produce is part of the circle of life and essential part to a healthy well-balanced garden. Here are three ways to start composting today.


Food Waste Restaurant Challenge Guide

In our Tackling Food Waste in Cities: A Policy and Program Toolkit (strategy #7), we note that cities interested in reducing food waste should consider ways to involve business sectors in their efforts, particularly those sectors most often linked to higher food waste generation, such as food service. The NRDC report Estimating Quantities and Types of Food Waste at the City Level found that restaurants were the largest (estimated) business sector generators of food waste in all three cities studied. Some cities, including Nashville and Denver, have successfully engaged restaurants and other sectors, including hospitality and retail, through food waste challenges that encourage local businesses to adopt specific practices to reduce the amount of food going to waste, donate surplus food, and recycle food scraps. This guide to implementing a restaurant (or other business) food waste challenge is based on the models in Nashville and Denver.

Linda Breggin of the Nashville Food Waste Initiative and Susan Renaud of the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment contributed to this guide.

Click here to download this restaurant challenge guide as a PDF.

Visit our resource library to download editable versions of the materials and customize them for your city.

Jump to Section

I. Goals

The first step in setting up a restaurant challenge is to determine what your goals are and how you would like to articulate them. For example:

Environmental

  • Up to 40 percent of the food we produce in the United States goes uneaten. When we waste that food, we waste all the water, energy, agricultural chemicals, labor, and other resources that go into growing, storing, and transporting it. Most food waste at the city level occurs among consumers, restaurants, grocery stores, and institutional food service.
  • A challenge can engage restaurants of different types (and possibly other businesses) in reducing and raising awareness about food waste, following the principles of the food recovery hierarchy: preventing food from going to waste in the first place, donating surplus food, and recycling food scraps.

Social/financial

  • Participating restaurants can save money by reducing food waste one study found that for every dollar invested in food waste reduction, half of the restaurants in the study saw a return of six dollars or more.
  • Participants can create positive PR by adopting practices that reduce food waste. Cities can also gain positive PR by using challenges to raise public awareness about food waste, which can help in securing buy-in for future programs.
  • Participating restaurants can learn from other participants and build a culture of reducing food waste. Restaurant staff can also learn from one another and potentially take ownership of food waste reduction strategies. Participating in or leading a socially and environmentally responsible initiative can build staff pride and contribute to increased employee retention.
  • Benefits to the broader community include increasing the amount of donated food, reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfills, and raising local awareness.
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II. Who to Involve

Participants

Determine which businesses you would like to target through the challenge (e.g., restaurants, hotels). Consider identifying the largest industrial, commercial, and institutional (ICI) food waste generators in your community and focus on the sectors where you will realize the biggest impact. The largest-generating ICI sector is likely to be restaurants other potential large generators include grocers, hospitality providers, food wholesalers and distributors, universities, and health care facilities (see Estimating Quantities and Types of Food Waste at the City Level). NRDC can provide resources to help municipalities develop baseline metrics and measure impact. Although restaurants are likely to be the ICI sector generating the most food waste in your community, this represents aggregate generation the restaurant sector is composed of many individual facilities, each of which is likely a relatively small generator, so gaining sector-wide collaboration is key to overall success.

Partners

Determine who can work on this initiative (e.g., city staff, local nonprofits, local restaurant associations or other trade groups, local PR organizations, chef advisory groups) and who will be responsible for each component. Identify local champions, stakeholders, and influencers and meet with them early on to get their input. These can come in the form of city agencies, programs, and task forces external business groups and associations in the target sector neighborhood groups and business owners. Also approach groups that could pose a barrier to your work and try to get their buy-in. Learn what their concerns are, and design a campaign that is sensitive to their needs.

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III. Challenge Setup Logistics

Structure a campaign that is in concert with your existing resources, goals, and opportunities. Consider the following elements of setting up a challenge in advance of outreach. (See Maintaining the Challenge: Partner Responsibilities for suggestions on running challenges.)

Timeline

Is this a time-limited challenge or an ongoing one? (Nashville first conducted a three-month pilot during which restaurants were required to implement food-saving practices for at least 30 days this was followed by a permanent, ongoing challenge.)

Informational materials

Will there be a website, posters, and/or other ways to provide information on the challenge? Who will host and maintain the website, and who will create other informational materials?

Recruitment

How will challenge participants be recruited (e.g., via cold calling, mailings, referrals from other challenge participants, a kickoff/recruitment event, etc.)? Will you target specific neighborhoods or types of restaurants, or will you otherwise focus recruitment? Who is responsible for recruitment?

Participant requirements

What practices will participants be requested (or required) to implement? (See Sample Requirements for Participation.)

Metrics

What metrics are you hoping to collect (e.g., number of participants, number of specific practices implemented, pounds of food scraps collected for composting, pounds of surplus food donated, etc.)? Consider desired metrics when designing your campaign, and talk with your target audience and partners to verify that your goals are attainable. Make sure that waste haulers are willing to provide data on waste collected and to adjust service levels (if relevant) if waste reduction measures are successful.

Incentives/recognition

Are there any incentives available for participation (e.g., discounts on organic waste collection service, decals or other promotional materials for participant facilities, promotional and/or recognition events, press opportunities, etc.)?

Waste audit

Do you intend to include any waste audits? If so, who will conduct them? How will you finance them, obtain materials, solidify logistics, etc.? It is important to note that you’ll probably be able to conduct waste audits only once or twice for each facility, due to cost and logistics therefore, they are best characterized as “snapshots” rather than comprehensive analyses of a facility’s normal waste generation pattern. However, challenge participants often find that the information gleaned from even a single waste audit can illuminate areas where they may be able to make improvements and adopt specific food waste strategies. For waste audits, we suggest following the protocols we developed for our baseline study, Estimating Quantities and Types of Food Waste at the City Level, and include report-backs to participating restaurants as an incentive (see Appendix M in the baseline study’s Technical Appendices for report-back templates). If resources for waste audits are very limited, a simple model of waste audit that separates materials into three categories (recyclables, compost/food waste, and other) may still allow you to make rough estimates of baseline generation and organics recycling potential. This simpler model can also entail gathering anecdotal information and photos of items that could be kept out of the garbage through prevention, rescue, or recycling.

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IV. Sample Requirements for Participation

Basic Requirements for Participants

  • Register for the challenge by completing a short initial survey identifying food-saving practices you will implement or expand. (See Food Saving Practices for examples.)
  • Implement or expand a minimum of a given number (e.g., five) of the food-saving practices listed on the challenge website on an ongoing basis (or for a specific period, if time-limited). This can include practices used prior to the challenge, but at least one new practice must be added.
  • Report on activities to reduce food waste at scheduled times (e.g., twice a year, at the end of the challenge period, etc.) in a brief online survey received via email. The survey will take no longer than 20 minutes to complete and will include questions about your successful practices and your challenges. In addition, the survey will ask for any information you might have regarding measurable results, which could include anything from recipes created to make use of leftover food to meals donated to buckets of compost generated.

Food-Saving Practices

The best way to reduce the impacts associated with food waste is to prevent waste altogether, so we suggest prioritizing prevention strategies in food waste challenges. The next most important strategy is to donate surplus food to organizations that can direct it to people in need. Finally, after maximizing prevention and donation, direct any remaining food scraps to animal feed, compost, or anaerobic digestion. See the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Food Recovery Hierarchy for more information on the food waste hierarchy, and refer to our Resources list for more information and guidance on these practices.

Reduce/Prevent Food Waste
  • Measure back-of-house and/or front-of-house food waste (this can be as simple as separating food waste into a bucket and counting the number of buckets generated each day for a week every month—or see our Resources list for information on other measurement tools).
  • Adopt new practices for food purchasing, storage, and right-sized cooking quantities to minimize waste if possible, track any changes in amounts of food purchased.
  • Use foods that might otherwise be discarded (like imperfect fruits and vegetables and unusual plant parts), and take a “nose to tail” approach with animal products record any new or modified recipes.
  • Creatively repurpose surplus foods and record any new or modified recipes.
  • Be flexible on portion sizes (e.g., offer smaller portions, half-size options, etc.).
  • Cook in small batches and/or cook to order.
  • Make side dishes and bread optional for your customers, and ensure that garnishes are edible.
  • Actively encourage the use of (appropriately sized) carryout containers.
  • Educate your customers by participating in the Save the Food campaign.
  • Engage your staff through training on food waste reduction and food donation, and through recognition for practices that reduce food waste.
  • Enlist at least three other businesses to sign up for the challenge.
  • Since you know your business best, adopt other changes that reduce wasted food in your facility.
Donate Surplus Food
  • Set up a partnership with a local charity that rescues food and make regular donations. (See Resources for a list of potential rescue organizations.) To the highest degree possible, keep track of how much and how often you are donating. (Tracking your donations allows you to get the fullest tax deduction for donating.)
Recycle Food Scraps
  • Recycle food scraps by composting them (compost on-site, deliver to a composting facility, or contact a local hauler for pickup services see Resources for a list of potential recycling organizations). Keep track of how much you collect for composting, or if you use a hauler, ask the hauler to do so for you.
  • Donate or sell food scraps for animal consumption (for instance, hog farms may accept baked goods and other foods) and keep track of how much and how often you donate.
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V. Maintaining the Challenge: Partner Responsibilities

Consider what actions need to be taken to maintain the challenge (e.g., ongoing recruitment, technical support, participant networking, participant report collection/tabulation, media outreach, recognition events) and which partners will be responsible for each of these tasks. (See Appendix B for specific examples of outreach emails, social media posts, and talking points.)

Here is a sample of challenge maintenance tasks allocated to specific supporting partners Adapted from Nashville's Food Saver Challenge.

Local Restaurant Association

  • Develop and update a website for the challenge that explains the initiative, outlines the steps required to participate, and lists the participating restaurants.
  • Periodically disseminate educational materials on food waste and the initiative on the website and social media and at meetings.
  • Recruit participants (e.g., through membership communications, by asking other local business associations to share the challenge through their channels, by developing a list of restaurant owners for the mayor to reach out to personally, etc.).
  • Send an introductory email to new participants that outlines the process and resources available include a link to the initial survey that participants are required to take.
  • Maintain a list of participants, track their dates of participation, and communicate with them periodically.
  • Send out reminders for reporting and collect/compile reports when due.
  • Host semiannual workshops to train restaurant staff in practical food waste reduction skills.
  • Assist participants with logistics, and direct their questions to other partners who can provide technical support.
  • To acknowledge participation, provide participants with a decal or other sign that can be posted in their restaurants.
  • Send to the mayor’s office a list of participants to receive certificates each year.
  • Optional: Coordinate an annual event with the mayor’s office to recognize participants.
  • Optional: Although everyone who participates is a winner, develop special recognition for categories such as most creative use-it-up dish, most improved, innovative practices, top donors, etc.—possibly by business type (large, small, chain, etc.).

Mayor’s Office

  • Recognize participating restaurants on an annual basis by, at a minimum, mailing certificates of participation that can be framed and posted.
  • Potentially cohost with partners an annual event or meeting with chefs at which participants are recognized and progress is discussed.
  • Incorporate success stories provided by partners into the mayor’s social media periodically.
  • Update the mayor’s website to direct interested restaurants to the challenge website.
  • Respond to media inquiries about the challenge.

Local Nonprofit

  • Assist with development of and updates to the challenge website.
  • Coordinate technical support to participants, including in-person, on-line, or phone meetings to troubleshoot or answer practical questions as needed. Work with experienced chefs to provide tips. Make site visits as needed.
  • Send regular emails to participants with highlights of best practices, media coverage, solicitation of questions, and discussion of any new resources or developments.
  • Cosponsor and help plan meetings and events for the challenge.
  • Help identify participants for recognition.
  • Use social media and the email list to promote and highlight the challenge throughout the year.
  • Highlight the challenge in events hosted by the nonprofit.
  • Help develop a participant recruitment plan.
  • Assist with the analysis and interpretation of reported results.
  • Publicize results (in aggregate and/or with specific examples, if challenge participants allow it).

PR Partner

  • Provide content for the mayor’s social media channels and email list.
  • Provide content for participants’ social media channels.
  • Develop promotional materials for participants (e.g., window decals, etc.)
  • Help garner media attention for the challenge.
  • Develop content for all partners’ social media and email lists to promote and highlight the challenge throughout the year.
  • Reach out to key players in the city’s food scene—including bloggers and influencers—to ask that they feature the challenge on their social media (and perhaps include an invitation to attend and cover any participant events).
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VI. Appendices

A. Sample Resource List

Adapted from Nashville’s Food Saver Challenge resource list. These resources should be customized to fit your community.

The EPA’s Wasted Food Programs and Resources Across the U.S. may be helpful in putting together your list. The EPA has developed a commonsense approach prioritizing best practices in food waste diversion. The best way to reduce the impacts associated with food waste is to prevent wasting food, so prioritize these practices in your business. The next most important strategy is to donate surplus food to organizations that can direct it to people in need. Finally, after maximizing prevention and donation strategies, direct any remaining food scraps to animal feed, compost, or anaerobic digestion. Visit the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy for more information.

Reduce/Prevent Wasted Food
Donate Surplus Food

Here are some resources that can coordinate pickup and delivery of surplus food in Nashville, work with you to address other logistical questions, and even provide information on tax incentives (replace with links to your local rescue organizations):

The following links contain information that may help you donate surplus food:

Recycle Food Scraps

The following companies offer food scrap composting collection services in Nashville and can work with you to establish a collection system that works for you (replace with links to your local collection services):

    (discount for challenge participants) (first month is half-off for new members participating in the challenge) (fourth month is free for new members participating in the challenge) (first month is half-off for new members participating in the challenge)
Additional Resources

B. Sample Outreach Emails, Social Media Posts, and Talking Points

Sample email to chef/restaurant participants post-registration

Thank you so much for signing up to participate in the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge for Restaurants. We appreciate your dedication to reducing food waste in Nashville.

Please share your participation widely and encourage other restaurants to sign up. Getting other restaurants to sign up counts as a food-saving practice outlined in the challenge, so we encourage you to spread the word about your participation. We’ve drafted a few Facebook posts and tweets below that we hope you’ll consider using. Your restaurant is also listed as a participant in the challenge on the mayor’s website.

  • We are proud to be one of the restaurants in Nashville coming together and signing up for the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge in an effort to reduce food waste. To see all the restaurants that are participating, visit [link]. #NashSavesTheFood
  • We have signed up for the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge. We are committing to expand our food waste reduction practices. #NashSavesTheFood
  • Nashville restaurants are coming together for the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge in an effort to reduce food waste. Visit [link] to sign up.
  • We’ve signed up for the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge! Check out the restaurants participating: [link]
Sample email to ongoing chef/restaurant participants

We hope that the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge is off to a great start for you and your team and that you all are adjusting well to your new food-saving practices!

What have you learned so far? Please share your participation on social media.

  • Take a selfie with your Food Saver Challenge window decal.
  • Show what food-saving practices are being implemented in the kitchen.
  • Use the hashtags #WasteLessNash and #NashSavesTheFood.

We’d like to applaud you and the other participating restaurants for your commitment to reducing the amount of food going to waste.

Thanks again for your participation and hard work in reducing the amount of food going to waste in Nashville. Please be in touch if you have any questions.

P.S. In case you missed it, the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge was featured on Nashville Public Radio and also aired across the country on NPR’s “Here & Now.” You can check out the story here: http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/04/18/nashville-food-waste

There will be additional media opportunities over the next month. Please reply to this email to let us know if you are interested in participating.

Examples of social media posts

Restaurant challenge social media posts for the mayor’s office

  • Restaurants around Nashville are taking a stand against food waste by joining the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge. Up to 40 percent of food in America is wasted, and a family of four loses about $1,800 in wasted food each year. Nashville, we need your help to ask your favorite local spot to participate in the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge. [link]
  • I’m challenging Nashville restaurants to reduce food waste in our community and join the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge. These restaurants are committing to expand their food waste reduction practices. To see which restaurants have signed up to participate, visit [link].
  • I launched the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge for restaurants to help us learn about what we can do to reduce food going to waste. Ask your favorite Nashville restaurants if they are participating in the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge to help reduce food waste in our community. There is still time to sign up. And thank you to all participants! [link]
  • In 2019 and beyond, I’m challenging Nashville’s restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues to take steps to reduce food waste in our city. More than 30 Nashville restaurants have accepted the challenge so far, but it’s not too late to sign up. Learn more about the challenge and register here. [link]
  • During the holidays, it’s important to remember the people without enough food on the table. More than 100,000 Nashvillians are food insecure, and that’s one reason why I’ve decided to launch the Food Saver Challenge. Restaurants, hotels, and event venues across the city are participating in my Food Saver Challenge to reduce the amount of waste in our landfills while donating quality food to local nonprofits. Is your favorite Nashville business on the list? Tell them to sign up here: [link]
  • Visit [link] to see which Nashville restaurants have signed up for the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge.
  • Nashville restaurants are participating in the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge to help reduce food waste. See who’s joining the effort: [link]
  • In 2019, I’m challenging Nashville’s hospitality and food service businesses to reduce food waste in our city. More than 30 businesses have taken the challenge so far, but it’s not too late to sign up. Learn more about the challenge and register here: [link]
  • During the holidays, it’s important to remember the people who are hungry. More than 100,000 Nashvillians are food insecure, and that’s one reason why I’ve decided to launch the Food Saver Challenge. Make sure your favorite business is signed up: [link]

Restaurant challenge social media posts for participating restaurants

These samples are adapted from Nashville’s Food Saver Challenge. All communications should be customized to fit your community.

  • Did you know up to 40 percent of all food in the U.S. goes uneaten, with 95 percent of that wasted food ending up in landfills or incinerators? There are many ways to prevent this, including donating food and composting food scraps. Follow this link to sign up for the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge and find a list of local compost haulers and food rescue organizations: [link]
  • Composting is one of the many ways Nashville businesses are committing to preventing food from going to waste in the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge. @CompostNash CEO and compost hauler Matthew Beadlecomb says it’s the easiest way to keep food out of our landfills. Participating businesses qualify for a discount with @CompostNash. [link]
  • Did you know 95% of wasted food ends up in landfills or incinerators? Stop the cycle by preventing food waste, donating surplus food, and composting food scraps. Sign up for the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge and find a list of local resources here: [link] #WasteLessNash
  • Composting is one of the many ways Nashville businesses are preventing food from going to waste. Businesses participating in the Mayor’s Food Challenge qualify for a discount with Compost Nashville. Learn more from Compost Nashville’s CEO here: [link] #WasteLessNash

RT NashvilleMCC: Proud to be part of the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge in an effort to reduce food waste. To see all the businesses that are participating, visit https://t.co/ViRisBwGnd #WasteLessNash #foodwaste #savethefood #nashsavesfood MayorBriley NR… pic.twitter.com/1vNZ22mmWU

&mdash EmporiSolidaliER (@EmSoEmRo) January 9, 2019

Proud to be part of the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge in an effort to reduce food waste. To see all the businesses that are participating, visit https://t.co/HfmDd951ID #WasteLessNash #foodwaste #savethefood #nashsavesfood @MayorBriley @NRDC pic.twitter.com/5ezYEfgrX5

&mdash Music City Center (@NashvilleMCC) January 9, 2019

NEWS FROM NASHVILLE FARMERS' MARKET & MAYOR DAVID BRILEY 'S #FOODSAVERCHALLENGE W/HELP FROM NRDC . WE ARE PROUD TO BE A PART! #wastelessnash #nashsavefood
Clay Ezell - IMPACT - Mayor's Food Saver Challenge Press Conference (2018) https://t.co/EwNvfa3eIt via @YouTube

&mdash The Compost Company (@thecompostco) December 10, 2018
Sample script for outreach staff to recruit restaurants to the challenge
  • My name is [name], and I’m with [organization].
  • I am reaching out on behalf of Mayor [name]’s office and [partner organizations] to tell you about an exciting opportunity for Nashville restaurants.
  • Our mayor recently issued a challenge to the restaurants of [city] to reduce the amount of food being wasted.
  • Restaurants are being asked to implement or expand a minimum of five food-saving practices between now and [date].
    • Our mayor understands the importance of the restaurant industry to our economy.
    • This challenge is intended to engage restaurants in reducing, and raising awareness of, food waste.
    • Offer to text them the link to learn more and register.
    • Ask for their email address. Offer to send them an email.
    • Encourage them to visit the challenge website.
    Sample script for an event to recruit grocers to a retailer food waste challenge
    • We throw away up to 40 percent of food in this country, and cities like ours can play a critical role in reducing the amount of food going to waste in the United States.
    • In 2015, the Natural Resources Defense Council selected Nashville as its pilot city for developing on-the-ground approaches to addressing food waste.
    • The Nashville Food Waste Initiative is working on
      • preventing food from going to waste
      • rescuing surplus food and
      • recycling food scraps.
      • preserve natural resources
      • mitigate climate change and
      • feed people who are food insecure in our community.

      C. Nashville’s Food Saver Challenge

      This description is written from a local perspective for Nashville’s Food Saver Challenge. The description and mission of your restaurant challenge should be customized to fit your community.

      Back in January 2017, the James Beard Foundation came to Nashville and hosted an advocacy workshop for local chefs that focused on food waste. Included in the training was a discussion of what a challenge for restaurants might look like. The Nashville Food Waste Initiative (NFWI) used that discussion to shape and develop the program. NFWI organizers listened to the people they wanted to participate and got their buy-in on the front end.

      In the chef community, it really matters what their peers say.

      With that feedback in hand, NFWI put together a proposal for a challenge and approached then mayor Megan Barry’s office about partnering to execute it. A food saver challenge had also been discussed in meetings of our Livable Nashville Committee, a group of community leaders and stakeholders working at the time to develop a shared vision for protecting and enhancing Nashville’s livability and environmental quality and to initiate ambitious sustainability goals, policies, and projects.

      In the spring of 2017, Nashville launched a pilot of the Mayor’s Food Saver Challenge, and more than 50 restaurants participated for a period of 30 days. It was a small but highly visible pilot. The chef community was positioned to be a trusted authority for Nashvillians about what they could do in their own homes. Using local chefs and sharing their stories about how they made a difference rescuing food from going to waste, we were able to attract extensive media attention.

      Following the pilot, Nashville Originals (a local association of independent restaurants) and the National Restaurant Association’s local chapter approached NFWI about partnering on a permanent continuation of the challenge and broadening its scope to include the hotel sector as well. The Greater Nashville Hospitality Association later signed on too.

      These industry groups came to NFWI to be a part of this voluntary effort because of their members’ interest in the issue and the PR value.

      When the organizers got ready to relaunch the challenge with a new mayor, they were able to ensure that the involvement of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County (Metro) required only a limited amount of staff hours and resources, because the private sector—with support from NFWI—was prepared to manage the implementation of the challenge. The Mayor’s Office’s partnership enhanced the profile of the challenge and provided visibility and outlets to market the initiative, but the Challenge was possible only because such strong partners were sharing responsibilities for its administration.

      Even before the project was relaunched, the industry partners launched a website, D. Denver’s Restaurant Challenge

      This description is written from a local perspective for Denver’s Food Waste pilot program. The description and mission of your restaurant challenge should be customized to fit your community.

      Denver was fortunate to have had an assessment performed by NRDC that showed households to be the largest generator of food waste (41%) and restaurants to be the second-largest (25%). Given that Denver restaurants were the largest commercial food waste generators, and given the city’s longstanding business sustainability program with strong ties to the restaurant community, it was a no-brainer to choose to work with this sector.

      Denver hosted a two-month food waste pilot for eight restaurants in the Highlands neighborhood. The pilot was structured after ReFED’s simplified food waste pyramid and added a fourth module to ReFED’s three: Close the Loop. The modules are:

      • Prevention: Denver provided restaurants with a list of options for food waste prevention that were developed in Nashville by NRDC, chefs, and the James Beard Foundation. Each restaurant was asked to adopt at least one measure from that list or craft its own.
      • Rescue: Denver partnered with We Don’t Waste, a local food donation group that picked up usable food from restaurants twice per week and redistributed it through its channels. The group also tracked the donated food and provided reports to each restaurant.
      • Recycling: For the pilot, Denver provided free compost service to restaurants for two months. The city also provided custom signage, infrastructure, kitchen setup, troubleshooting, and staff training.
      • Close the Loop: Denver worked with the Parks Department to apply finished compost to a park in the pilot neighborhood to demonstrate the importance of closing the loop. It held a community film screening of Just Eat It at the park to celebrate the accomplishments of the restaurants and to educate the residential sector on the importance of reducing food waste.

      Denver collected metrics from the pilot through surveys, interviews, anecdotal information, waste audits, hauler data, reports of cost savings or increases, employee engagement, and more. Denver provided participating restaurants with public-facing recognition including a tool kit that featured a window decal, a POS/table tent info piece, a card that could be attached to takeout containers linking to household composting options, and social media tiles. The city also put out a press release, which was picked up by all four major network news stations and additional publications, with a reach of more than 15 million impressions.

      In-house materials for staff included a kitchen poster with information on prevention, donation, and compost and a more detailed manual with all pilot details, contact information, and a calendar. Denver held kickoff and wrap-up meetings for all participants and held trainings and exit interviews with restaurants individually. Officials found this to be a good format for collecting and disseminating information. Surveys were not a successful means for gathering data. Denver recruited one restaurant in the neighborhood to act as a champion for the others. Workers at this restaurant were already successfully preventing food waste, donating excess food, and composting food scraps. They presented as a peer at the kickoff meeting offered to give tours of their kitchen to show how they had set it up to facilitate prevention, donation, and compost and were available as a resource to the other restaurants throughout the pilot.

      • Prevention: Most restaurants had a hard time coming up with prevention strategies in the beginning. The majority adopted prevention strategies after implementing composting collection, which showed them how much they were wasting.
      • Rescue: Very few restaurants were able to donate food through the program because they cook to order. There were some opportunities for donation at times of menu changes and upon receipt of incorrect orders.
      • Recycling: Free compost service, training, and infrastructure enticed restaurants to participate. Results surprised restaurants and served as a catalyst for prevention and behavior change.
      • Behavior Change: All participants liked composting and reported cultural changes around food waste prevention both within the restaurants and for employees at home. Six out of the 8 participating restaurants plan to continue to compost.
      • Diversion: While the data were imperfect, anecdotally, Denver saw the restaurants increase their waste diversion from approximately 18 percent to about 70 percent during the two-month period. Waste audits showed that they have the potential to divert between 85 and 90 percent of their waste from the landfill.
      • In-house point person: Denver saw the most successful outcomes with restaurants that had strong buy-in from the ownership/chef and also had a strong in-house point person to champion the day-to-day implementation.
      • Pilot format: The participating restaurants liked the small-scale format of working closely with the city and haulers. They felt that the format allowed them to develop a community with other, like-minded restaurants in the neighborhood.

      Going forward, the city plans to host a series of two-month, neighborhood-based restaurant projects incorporating the format and lessons learned from the pilot.


      The Perfect Compost Recipe | How to Get Your Compost Heap Cooking!

      If you don’t have a compost pile, fall is great time to start one. Turn dead and dying foliage, weeds, and kitchen waste into a nutrient-rich material that will enrich your soil and nourish your plants for super-healthy growth. Compost is the very best food that you can give to your plants. Here’s our compost recipe.

      Compost is nutrient-rich organic material that you add to your soil to enrich the soil and help plants thrive. It’s made from nature—shredded leaves, your own plant debris, and food scraps—that you might otherwise just throw away and waste.

      1. A very simple compost pile can be a heap of leaves that you leave for a couple years.
      2. A better compost pile layers your “brown” (eq., shredded leaves) and “green” (plant debris, clipped grass), keeps the pile slightly moist, and turns it once in a while to mix the contents.
      3. But to make really great compost that “cooks” quickly and decomposes quickly into plant food, you’ll want to watch the video and read the instructions below.

      Some folks just have a big pile in the corner of their yard. This is fine, but it’s easier to set up a compost “center” to contain your compost and keep leaves and debris from flying away with a bin(s) made of lumber or concrete or even chicken wire on wooden stakes.

      If you have a small garden, you could buy a compost bin at your local garden center or mass merchant.

      How to Compost

      While you will indeed get compost that way, you can produce much better compost and get it much more quickly if you follow these simple guidelines for the perfect recipe.

      There are 4 ingredients for good compost: 1. greens, 2. browns, 3. air, and 4. moisture. These 4 need to be balanced correctly for best results.

      The ingredients you add to a compost heap contain carbon and nitrogen. The ratio of carbon to nitrogen determines whether we label it a ‘green’ or a ‘brown’.

      • GREENS : Ingredients that have a relatively high nitrogen content and a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio below 30:1 are called ‘greens’.
      • BROWNS : Ingredients with a lower nitrogen content (in other words a higher carbon-to-nitrogen ratio) are called ‘browns’.

      Color isn’t always a reliable indicator of what is a ‘green’ or a ‘brown’ material. For example, fresh grass clippings when spread out and left to dry are still considered a ‘green’ ingredient even though they’ve turned a brownish color, because really all they’ve lost is water. On the other hand, straw is always considered a ‘brown’ because before it was cut, the main stems had died and much of the plant’s nitrogen had gone into the seeds as protein.

      1. Greens

      Good examples of greens to add to your compost pile are

      grass clippings (which haven’t been sprayed with weedkiller), vegetable waste, fruit peels, annual weeds before they’ve developed seeds, and old bedding plants.

      Don’t compost animal products such as meat, and try to avoid adding diseased plant material, or fats and oils.

      2. Browns

      Good examples of browns include sawdust, straw, woodchippings, shredded brown cardboard, and fallen leaves.

      Bedding from herbivorous pets such as guinea pigs is ideal, as their manure adds a bit of extra nitrogen into the mix.

      Compost decomposes much faster if you chop the ingredients up, so shredding woody materials and tearing up cardboard speeds up the process because there is then more surface area exposed to the microbes that decompose the compost.

      However, avoid shredded evergreen trees such as Leylandii because they don’t compost well and the pine resin can inhibit seed growth.

      3. Balance

      When making compost you want to aim for 2 to 3 times more brown materials than greens, at least initially, although some more greens can be added as the compost cooks.

      For most gardeners, the biggest challenge is therefore collecting enough brown materials and not just piling in loads of greens which will result in a soggy, smelly mess.

      Never add lots of grass clippings in one go as they will just form a slimy matted layer.

      Air is vital to the composting process so it’s important to mix the ingredients in together, and never squash them down.

      By turning or remixing the compost more air is introduced, which speeds up decomposition.

      4. Water

      The fourth vital ingredient is water. If like me you stockpile brown materials, you’ll need to water the pile to things going when first mixing it.

      Build the compost pile up with layers of browns and greens, watering it where necessary to produce a moist (but not soggy) mixture.

      A good compost heap has a slightly sweet composty smell. If it smells sour or rotten then it either has too many greens, or is too wet.

      In either case, the remedy is to mix more brown materials in to compensate.

      By getting the right balance of 2 or 3 parts browns to 1 part greens with moisture and air, you’re giving the microbes that decompose the materials the best conditions to work in.

      As they break the organic matter down they give off heat, which in turns speeds up the decomposition.

      In a well-mixed heap temperatures can easily reach over 150 degrees Fahrenheit, or 65 degrees Celsius.

      The heap in the video, for example, was mixed several days ago and it’s already been cooking nicely, although it’s starting to cool a little now.

      After a few more days, I will remix it to introduce more air and to bring materials from the edges into the center.

      Several weeks later the heap will cool, and worms can move in to finish the process.

      If you follow this recipe you should get a fine, crumbly-textured compost. Any remaining large bits can be sieved out and put into the next compost heap you build, leaving you with the very best food for your plants.


      How do visitors compost?

      Last year, more than 25 million people visited the San Francisco area, according to the San Francisco Travel Association.

      It’s safe to say that most of those people are not required to compost wherever they call home. They’re probably used to seeing a bin for trash and maybe a second one for recycling but probably not a third for compost.

      “If you’re used to throwing all of your trash in one bin, then suddenly having more than one bin can be a bit overwhelming,” said Lauren Sively of the Ferry Building, a popular food hall and tourist attraction on the city’s famous Embarcadero. “We try to make it as user friendly as we can.”

      The Ferry Building’s Big Belly trash cans are color-coded (black for landfill, blue for recycle and green for organics) and labeled in English, Chinese and Spanish. Large posters on the front show what can be thrown in each bin.

      Lauren Sivley, Assistant Property Manager, Equity Office, for the Ferry Building in San Francisco, stands in front of three Bigbelly bins for waste (landfill, recycle, and compost). (Photo: Cheryl Evans/The Republic)

      The photos of food, containers and other materials are of things people would probably have to throw away after a visit to the building. An image of a Kikkoman soy sauce packet, likely from Delica Japanese delicatessen, is on the landfill sign. Newspaper, perhaps from the Book Passage bookstore, goes into recycle and soiled paper from a Cowgirl Sidekick grilled-cheese sandwich goes in the compost bin.

      “You see people come up to bins and there’s some hesitation and looking at the signs … trying to figure it out,” Sively said.

      The photos are an extra layer of helpfulness, intended to let visitors who can’t read the signs understand what goes in each receptacle. Bins at parks and restaurants from Union Square to Golden Gate Park, Market Street to Alcatraz have signs showing what goes inside, too.

      A detail shot of some of the sign used to help people on which bin to use for their waste at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. (Photo: Cheryl Evans/The Republic)


      (Apple) Core Values

      By Jessi Cape, Fri., May 10, 2013

      The East Side Compost Pedallers team has become a staple member of the Austin sustainable food system less than one year since its birth. The stated mission of Dustin Fedako's brainchild is four-fold: sustainability, community, simplicity, and creativity. May is National Bike Month, and with the first tomatoes of the season ripening, it is prime time for the Pedallers.

      Last week, the Austin City Council voted unanimously to expand the universal recycling ordinance, requiring all Austin restaurants to start composting by 2017 (restaurants larger than 5,000 square feet only have until 2016). "We are proud and honored to live and operate in a city with such progressive goals around waste reduction," says Fedako. "[The ordinance change] is a massive step towards a zero-waste Austin, and we are excited to play our part in redirecting those organic resources to enrich our soil and our community." The Zero Waste initiative aims to make Austin waste-free, with one specific goal of reducing the amount of trash sent to landfills by 90% by 2040. Although all restaurants will be required to compost, the method has not been mandated. Other Austin businesses provide composting services, such as Break It Down Austin and Green Thumb Compost, but so far the Pedallers are the only business to actually pedal their loot.

      Four regular Pedallers ride three specialized Metrofiets cargo bikes (personalized with names like Lily) throughout the area from Manor Road to I-35 to Wilshire Boulevard to Berkman Drive, transporting heaps of organic waste. Once individual bins are picked up from customers' front doors each Friday morning, the collections are weighed and added to the big bike buckets. Several partners, including Springdale Farm, Urban Patchwork, and the University of Texas' Concho Community Garden and Micro Farm, use the material for compost, and in turn, for growing more local food. ESCP is also on site every Sunday at HOPE Farmers Market and Mueller Farmers Market, engaging in community outreach and collecting compost. The Pedallers' website includes a large list of acceptable and unacceptable items for the bins, such as the predictable fruit peels, veggie scraps, stale beer, and old bread. But many of the green-lighted trash-turned-treasures are rather surprising: the contents of your vacuum cleaner, nail clippings, receipts, and even nonglossy junk mail. To protect compost quality, there are a few restrictions &ndash no meat or dairy, for instance. The airtight lid reduces odors and keeps pests (and curious pets) at bay.

      Because ESCP's transportation method burns only Pedaller fat, the entire process uses zero fossil fuels &ndash meaning zero emissions. Additionally, the ESCP service contributes to a reduction in methane. Since December, the Pedallers' business has prevented 1.71 tons of methane from being released to the atmosphere. Landfills emit approximately one-third of the methane produced in the United States, thereby increasing toxicity via greenhouse gasses and decreasing air quality. The anaerobic conditions (standard for landfills) are created by combining organic material (such as compostable kitchen scraps) with nonbiodegradable items (such as old computers or even plastic bags) the resulting scenario blocks the natural decomposition process, sometimes for decades. By composting organic material, carbon dioxide forms instead. A variety of methods can reduce methane production, but none are as simple or inexpensive as throwing banana peels into a bin in the kitchen.

      The new ESCP zine (also available in digital format), illustrated by Fedako, states, "The average American throws away 4.43 [pounds] of trash every day," and specifies that 30% of garbage is actually compostable. ESCP coined a term for this valuable resource: Scrapple is "compostable food scraps and other organic materials," or gardener's gold. The natural fertilizer is essential for producing locally grown food without the use of pesticides or chemicals on urban farms and community gardens. Since their first scrapple collection ride in December 2012, the Pedallers have prevented 11,104 pounds of scrapple from reaching the landfill, created 2,776 pounds of compost, saved 747 gallons of diesel fuel, and burned more than 60,000 Pedaller calories. For $16 per month, residential customers become members of the ESCP resource cycle and receive a green airtight compost bin, weekly bin cleaning service and collection, a personalized impact stats card, and a yard sign &ndash with all services delivered on those beloved bicycles.

      In addition, last week ESCP launched their new rewards program, the Loop. For every pound of compost, customers receive one point, redeemable for prizes. T-shirts, Homegrown Revival tickets, even a free bicycle are offered by 12 local businesses, including East Side Yoga, Cherrywood Coffeehouse, Windmill Bicycles, and Austin Daily Press. In.gredients, a package-free, zero-waste grocer in East Austin, also participates. The team plans to incorporate more businesses as the service area and company grow, with the specification that the new organizations chosen to participate are accessible by foot or bicycle and are "embedded in these new service areas." Since the kick-off contest in October 2012, in which votes from Austinites chose Cherrywood as their first route, the Pedallers' waiting list of neighborhoods eager to participate has grown steadily. Expansion is certain with "plans to open service to [the] Holly neighborhood in May," but keeping the operation close-knit and manageable is the top priority. Fedako reiterates, "Keeping the Loop close to home is just another way we are creating the conditions for Eastside communities to grow."

      Community is an enormous slice of the Pedallers' pie, and the company set its headquarters in East Austin, where the Pedallers roost, because of a heartfelt desire to facilitate neighborly conversations. "Of course we are a composting program, but we are also all about community." Fedako is also a co-founder of the Food Is Free Project, a gardening nonprofit focused on reforming the agricultural system by encouraging neighborly conversations and building front yard food gardens with salvaged resources and harvests open to anyone. Since becoming a Slow Money Austin Spring Pitchfest finalist, Fedako says, "We had a lot of great preliminary conversations with potential investors at Earth Day Austin and plan to meet for further discussion in the coming weeks. We are also applying for a grant from the city of Austin's Urban Agriculture department as well as the upcoming RISE Social Good Fast Pitch Competition."

      Where entrepreneurial spirits meet genuine concern for community and environment, we find the Pedallers engaging East Austin. The personality of the Pedallers shines through in every endeavor &ndash from business cards fashioned from upcycled cardboard food boxes and an active social media and Vimeo presence to Good Samaritan deeds. East Side Compost Pedallers will gladly take your scraps, but no bones, please.


      GROUND TO GROUND

      About a year ago, Lindsay Razzaz was blown away by a community meeting she attended with members of Compost Coalition&mdasha volunteer-based network of individuals and groups working to divert organic matter from the landfill through education, outreach and activities such as transporting kitchen scraps to local chickens. &ldquoI was impressed by the great service Compost Coalition was providing for local businesses and for the environment,&rdquo Razzaz says. &ldquoI loved that there was very little money needed to effect this change.&rdquo

      In fact, Razzaz&mdashwho works in the horticulture office of Travis County&rsquos Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service&mdashwas so inspired that she began researching different composting programs around the world and soon found one in Melbourne, Australia, called Ground to Ground that she thought would dovetail nicely with the goals of the coalition. &ldquoIt was a community composting program for coffee, and I thought that would be an incredible fit since used coffee grounds are a really wonderful, nutrient-rich resource for your garden.&rdquo

      Thus was born Austin&rsquos own Ground to Ground project, a partnership that includes Compost Coalition and Travis County&rsquos Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office, which uses their army of master gardener volunteers to recruit cafés to offer their used grounds freely to anyone who asks and to educate the community in general about their myriad benefits. &ldquoCoffee grounds actually contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium,&rdquo notes Razzaz, &ldquowhich are the three major nutrients in conventional fertilizer, and they contribute a range of micronutrients such as magnesium, copper and calcium that you don&rsquot typically find in synthetic fertilizers. They add organic matter to your yard or garden, which helps retain moisture, and are just a fantastic soil amendment overall.&rdquo

      &ldquoI say that using coffee grounds in your garden is a gateway drug to composting,&rdquo Compost Coalition founder Heather-Nicole Hoffman adds with a laugh. &ldquoYou can actually put them directly on your soil, so you don&rsquot even have to compost them first.&rdquo Not to mention the fact that they&rsquore free.

      So far, the Ground to Ground program has enlisted about 20 participating coffee shops citywide that will provide free grounds (and even reusable containers to transport them in) through a bucket-exchange program. Program leaders say they&rsquore always looking to expand, by adding either more businesses or outreach educators. &ldquoThe beauty of it is that it&rsquos simple, sustainable and community-driven,&rdquo Razzaz says. &ldquoGround to Ground reduces waste, builds our soil and strengthens local businesses.&rdquo


      Austin's new recycling plan makes local restaurants rethink food waste

      Eco-education is now on the menu at Austin restaurants as they teach customers about new rules regarding how organic materials and other trash items are discarded. The change was made necessary by the City of Austin’s Universal Recycling Ordinance, part of a multi-pronged plan to make the Capital City zero-waste by 2040.

      Among other environmental initiatives, the city seeks a 90 percent reduction in landfill trash. As it stands now, 40 percent of that waste is organic material. The city is addressing it with organics diversion requirements, which covers lawn clippings, discarded flowers, paper towels, paper napkins, and food-soiled paper. Although the city started phasing in the new rules in 2016, food businesses were granted a grace period until October 1 of this year.

      Under the mandate, bars, grocery stores, farmers markets, and restaurants must find a way to “responsibly” get rid of food leftovers and scraps. This change has prompted many of these businesses to embrace composting and other green practices behind the scenes, but it can be a different story in the front of house.

      Joe Ritchie, director of hospitality at ELM Restaurant Group (24 Diner, Irene’s, and Cookbook Cafe), says that at Fareground, a food hall in downtown Austin, diners sometimes have trouble deciphering the waste-disposal “puzzle.”

      “There are times that glass or aluminum gets mixed in with our compost, and we need to get the gloves on and sort them because the public is still learning,” says Ritchie.

      Susanne Harm, a spokeswoman for the Austin Resource Recovery Department, says Austin restaurant-goers are being educated about the recycling ordinance through local media coverage, public events, social media posts, inserts in utility bills, and 250 neighborhood recycling evangelists called “block leaders.”

      Given that a lot of restaurants and other eateries are handling organics diversion in the kitchen area, many customers won’t even know it’s happening, according to Harm.

      That doesn’t mean that the eateries didn’t put in a lot of prep work to get ready for the ordinance deadline. Skeeter Miller, owner of the County Line and Flyrite Chicken restaurants, says his businesses have been collaborating with the City of Austin for about five years on its zero-waste push.

      Both currently divert about 80 percent of their trash — including organic waste — from landfills. To help accomplish that, they converted to reusable to-go containers, use real silverware instead of plastic utensils, and supply cloth napkins rather than paper napkins.

      “We did a pilot program for almost a year to help find better ways to divert trash from the landfill and create a zero-waste initiative that would be sustainable. I support what the city is doing,” Miller says.

      Some restaurants, however, have tackled the ordinance with a more hands-on approach. At Fareground, workers try to clear every table, rather than customers doing it on their own, so diners don’t have to figure out which trash goes where, Ritchie says. For customers who want to assume that responsibility, they can throw food leftovers and scraps, as well as other compostable items, in a green-colored composting bin.

      “The most impactful change we’ve made to simplify the effect on our guests is using all compostable products so there’s no sorting necessary,” he says.

      For employees, the transition has been smooth, Ritchie says. In anticipation of the final phase of the city’s Universal Recycling Ordinance, Fareground implemented composting at the beginning of this year, he says, and employees have adapted “quite well.”

      “Service industry professionals tend to be quite comfortable with change,” Ritchie says, “and are particularly motivated when that change has such a positive impact on the world.”

      However, not everyone has been so quick to embrace the new rules. Hoover Alexander, owner of Hoover’s Cooking and president of the Texas Restaurant Association’s Austin chapter is concerned about the financial impact the city’s new waste requirements could have on local restaurants.

      “We want to do the right thing, and it’s not like we’re anti-environmentalists, but … folk[s] are going to have a hard time, one, not knowing about [the ordinance] and, two, paying for it. I think that’s going to be true at least initially,” Alexander told radio station KUT.

      Disobeying the city’s recycling rules can result in a $100 to $2,500 fine for a food-selling business.

      Austin Resource Recovery points out that businesses with permits to prepare and sell food are able to pick organics diversion methods that work for them, such as donating leftover food to homeless shelters, sending food scraps to local animal farms, developing on-site composting methods, or hiring a private company to haul away the extra food.

      The City of Austin “is committed to helping companies, large and small, find effective solutions to ensure employees have access to diversion programs that puts unused food to a higher and better use while meeting ordinance requirements,” Sam Angoori, interim director of Austin Resource Recovery, says in a statement.

      Many Austin eateries have even seen the rules as an opportunity. “There are a large number of farm-to-table restaurants, farmers’ markets, and even food trucks in Austin that are actively promoting their zero-waste methods,” Harm says.

      Bryce Gilmore, chef/owner of Barley Swine, Odd Duck, and Sour Duck Market, says cutting down on generation of landfill waste through composting and recycling, for instance, has been part of the mission of his three restaurants since they opened. Therefore, he says, little has changed in response to the organics diversion requirement.

      “I think this is very important,” Gilmore says of organics diversion. “ I wish it was mandated a long time ago. I look forward to discovering new ways to divert organics and keep our businesses sustainable.”


      Homemade Plant Food: 7 Easy Natural Fertilizer Recipes

      Make homemade plant food with these seven easy natural fertilizer recipes using ingredients you already have on hand.

      Seaweed Tea

      Don’t be scared by the title, you can still make this fertilizer even if you don’t live near the ocean.

      Here's a quick look at how to make seaweed tea.

      1. Collect any “marine weeds” in your area, including freshwater seaweed.
      2. Check your state or local guidelines to make sure foraging for seaweed has been permitted in your area. Depending on protected species and lands, there may be different regulations in your area.
      3. Walk along the shoreline of a local lake, pond, or ocean, and look for washed-up seaweed on the shore.
      4. Rinse off the seaweed to remove any dirt, bugs, or salt (if you have an ocean nearby).
      5. Chop the seaweed then submerge it in a bucket with a few gallons of water, enough to steep the seaweed for a few weeks.
      6. As the seaweed breaks down, the water absorbs most of the nutrients. After 3 - 4 weeks of steeping, strain out the seaweed and use the tea mixed with 50% regular water for your plants.

      Epsom Salts, Baking Powder, and Ammonia

      By combining some inexpensive and common household products, you can make a natural fertilizer that gives your plants all of the nutrients they need. And this is a great solution to try if you're trying to save money off the grid.

      Epsom salt contains high levels of magnesium and sulfur, which plants need to create healthy foliage and absorb nutrients from the soil.

      Baking soda helps plants bloom and protects them from fungal disease, while ammonia contains nitrogen to assist in growing a healthy root system.

      These three simple ingredients conveniently contain most of the nutrients needed to grow a healthy plant, and you most likely have them in your homestead kitchen or around the house. If not, they cost just a few dollars and can be found at most grocery or superstores.

      Here's a quick recipe for using Epsom salts, baking soda, and ammonia homemade fertilizer.

      1. Use an old 1-gallon plastic jug or watering can to mix the natural fertilizer.
      2. Add 1.5 tablespoons of Epsom salt, 1.5 teaspoons of baking soda, and just under half a teaspoon of ammonia.
      3. Once you’ve added these to your empty jug, fill up the rest of the container with water.
      4. Shake well to mix. Let sit for 15 minutes or until all the ingredients have dissolved.
      5. Apply to your vegetable garden or houseplants.

      Burying Banana Peels

      What makes bananas so healthy for us to eat? Potassium.

      Well, it turns out plants need potassium to grow just as much as we do. If you’re anything like our family, you probably go through quite a few bananas every week.

      Save your banana peels (if you don’t already compost) and bury them in a hole a few inches below the surface next to plants like rose bushes or other plants that require high levels of potassium. You can even do this with overripe bananas if you don’t feel like making banana bread!

      If you want to take it a step further, steep the bananas in water similar to the seaweed tea process. Once the mixture has steeped long enough, use the water AND the peels to add some natural fertilizer to your garden.

      Animal Manure

      The original and most effective natural fertilizer available: animal manure. Our ancestors have been using animal manure as a homemade (or animal made) plant food ever since humans began farming.

      It obviously comes with no cost, other than the cost of owning and feeding animals. But you would be paying for those costs anyway, people don’t own animals just to make compost!

      Whether you raise chickens, cows, turkeys, rabbits, or other homesteading livestock, their manure will have awesome benefits for your garden.

      Keep in mind, you need to dry and age the manure for about 6 months before adding it to your garden. Also, don’t use the waste from any household pets or meat-eating animals, as these may contain harmful parasites and bacteria.

      To learn more about how to properly compost animal manure, check out North Dakota State’s free guide.

      Aquarium Water

      If you have an aquarium or fishbowl that you clean every few weeks, save the water to use in your garden. As you know, aquarium water will get cloudy, smelly, and dirty over time due to fish waste. This same waste is what makes aquarium water so good for your plants, adding natural fertilizer and nutrients to your soil.

      The aquarium water also has a high level of nitrogen, one of the most vital nutrients for healthy plants.

      Before you try any of these fertilizers on your whole garden, test it on a few plants first. Every soil, plant, and garden has different needs and deficiencies, and as a result, will react better to different types of fertilizer. By testing out your homemade plant food first, you will be able to find which one works best for your situation.

      Compost Tea

      We've listed compost tea separately from regular compost because it can be used on its own, and gives apartment homesteaders an easy option if you have limited space. Here's how to make compost tea.

      1. Simply keep a glass jar on your counter, or in a closet or cupboard.
      2. Fill the jar about ⅓ - ½ of the way with clean water.
      3. Whenever you have food scraps, like eggshells, coffee grounds, tea bags, or vegetable trimmings, crush them up and add them to the jar.
      4. Add more water as necessary, just make sure all the compost is covered.
      5. Once you’ve almost filled the jar, top it up with water and shake once daily for a week.
      6. Let it sit away from direct sunlight, and don’t put a tight-fitting lid on the jar. You don’t want it to explode by accident if fermentation occurs and you forget about it. If you see the liquid begin to ferment, add it to your garden before it ferments any further.

      Homemade Compost

      This one seems like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people don’t bother composting.

      Organic matter contains incredibly high amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and other essential nutrients needed in your garden. Save these nutrients rather than throwing them out. When you have food scraps or any organic waste, add it to your compost pile.

      The nutrients in expensive store-bought fertilizer will be similar (if not less) than the levels of nutrients in your own compost, so why would you pay for something you already have at home?

      Make composting a family affair - learn more about composting with kids and get started today.

      Before you try any of these fertilizers on your whole garden, test it on a few plants first. Every soil, plant, and gard en has different needs and deficiencies, and as a result, will react better to different types of fertilizer. By testing out your homemade plant food first, you will be able to find which one works best for your situation.

      These seven natural fertilizers represent just some of the total amount of fertilizers you can make at home or find for free. Cost should never be an excuse not to garden, so start getting creative and use these recipes to make your own ultimate plant food.


      I think what you guys are doing is a great thing. People really don’t realize how much food we waste and discard on a daily basis. It’s amazing to think that Singapore alone wastes that much food, that’s just one country out of all of the many on this planet!

      Glad I can be part of it! It’s about time that we focus on reducing food waste. From food production to food waste, lots of resources (i.e., land, water, fuel, etc) go into putting our food on the table. I hope people recognize the need to focus on using what we NEED (EAT).

      Besides doing our part for the environment, we are also saving our pockets. Wasting foods = wasting money. Plan and buy whatever we need. Keep track of the food inventory. Don’t fall into the temptation of attractive offers. If we don’t need the item, don’t buy. If we don’t need that much, buy in small quantity. Try the sample or buy in small size if we do not know how good the product is. Understand family’s eating traits. Cook right quantity.

      Just sharing from my experience. Thanks for giving us a platform to learn more about food saving :)


      Watch the video: Τα 10 πιο καρκινογόνα τρόφιμα (May 2022).