How the Northwestern University community
is helping the earth by recycling uneaten food

by Sherry Jiao

Since 2005
of food produced in the US
is being thrown away

*According to a study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases

The issue

Everyday, we throw away unimaginable amounts of food. The culprit of this problems is none other than ourselves! As consumers, we waste about 209 to 253 pounds of food per person in the U.S. According to the USDA, the average person eats about 4.7 lbs of food each day. The amount of food we each waste in the U.S. per year could feed us for two months. This means we have a lot of leftover food we shouldn't just be throwing away.

The Solution

The national food waste problem affecting America is the reason a small town in Illinois, Evanston, is implementing food recycling into citizen's daily lives. Whether it is composting your breakfast or getting smaller portions, everybody can join in this fight against throwing away food.

Composting at Unicorn Cafe

Behind Unicorn Cafe's counter: composting from Sherry Jiao on Vimeo.

After Unicorn Cafe started composting all the uneaten food from the customers, their food waste went down about 80% according to the owner, Tracie Dahlke. She works with a local composting business, Collective Resources, started by Erlene Howard. Howard provides Dahlke with big 5-gallon containers to hold all the leftover food. After a week, Howard comes by Unicorn Cafe to collect the container from Dahlke. They have been doing this weekly process for about two years now. Instead of going to landfills like other waste, these containers will go to a composting site, where the leftovers are turned into ground again.

Campus Kitchen donates leftovers

Campus Kitchen makes good use of leftovers from Sherry Jiao on Vimeo.

Campus Kitchen is an organization at colleges across the nation that helps build a more sustainable approach to food on campus. Here at Northwestern, these group of students meet as often as they can to collet uneaten food in the dining halls. They then pack the food to donate to local residents who are unable to feed themselves. Many people are dependent on their services and look forward to these deliveries every week.