Meet six determined, courageous environmentalists honored for making a difference

Can one person make a difference? Each Goldman Environmental Prize recipient has. But it wasn’t easy. These grassroots environmentalists faced down pollution, mining and drilling interests, entrenched officials and even assassination their efforts to save and restore natural lands, stop air pollution and encourage recycling. Read on for inspiration…

How we can cultivate a better food system in 2013

s we start 2013, many people will be thinking about plans and promises to improve their diet and health. But we think a broader collection of farmers, policy-makers, and eaters need new, bigger resolutions for fixing the food system – real changes with long-term impacts in fields, boardrooms, and on plates all over the world. These are resolutions that the world can’t afford to break with nearly one billion still hungry and more than one billion suffering from the effects of being overweight and obese. We have the tools—let’s use them in 2013!

KFC launches reusable container; here’s hoping it’s reused

Fried chicken mega-chain KFC has swallowed its share of criticism recently. The introduction of its artery-challenging “double down” bun-less sandwich this year left health experts slack-jawed. Some customers gobbled it up, but few argued that this “sandwich” of two deep-fried chicken patties stuck together with cheese and bacon would help anyone with their body mass index.

Next KFC came in for criticism of its unsustainably sourced paper buckets. The Dogwood Alliance attacked the fast food chain for using paper that was not certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), widely used by Walmart and others to verify its paper and wood products are coming from well-managed forests. (KFC uses a different certifier, which Dogwood claimed was a cover for bad practices.)
KFC may be trying to turn its image around with a series of packaging changes.

Don’t trash talk San Francisco; the city beats everyone at waste diversion

San Francisco knows how to not waste an opportunity. In case you missed the news, the Golden Gate city recently surpassed it’s goal of diverting 75 percent of its trash from the landfill by 2010. It’s already at 77 percent trash diversion by the city’s last estimation.

The side of a Recology truck makes the point that "Recycling changes everything." In San Francisco, it has dramatically changed how much trash goes to waste. (Photo: Recology)

That very likely makes San Francisco the continuing leader among U.S. cities for trash diversion. San Jose, Fresno, Long Beach, New York City and Portland are close behind. According to an independent ranking, those cities were all diverting at least 60 percent of their waste in late 2007. San Francisco led the pack back then at 67 percent diversion.

Waste News

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Ever on the look out for signs of the times, we noticed the other day that “Waste News,” a trade publication covering the waste, salvage and recycling industries, has changed its name to “Waste & Recycling News“.

While we’ll miss the unintentional double entendre of the previous name, we welcome the signal that the world can’t just consider its waste to be just waste anymore. Today, “scrap” or recyclables — stuff that could be re-crafted into something new, or turned into biofuel or compost or PETE plastic parkas — is the new waste. This is a good thing.

And while we’re thinking about tossing less, let’s also consider our food and how much we well-fed Americans send to the waste bin — nearly 100 billion pounds of food annually, according to one report.

Food indulgence in America: How attitudes weigh us down

By Paula Minahan
Green Right Now

Piles of cracked and broken shells. Gnawed bones pushed aside. Remnants of what tempted with shameless excess. And in the background, a young Army recruit observes, “This is what we fight for, you know. Not so you can waste food, but so you can have plenty.”

It’s just another day at one of Sin City’s copious casino buffets as depicted in the award-winning documentary, Buffet: All You Can Eat Las Vegas. The film, shown on PBS and at indie festivals nationwide, is MIT cultural anthropology professor and filmmaker Dr. Natasha Dow Schüll’s sometimes humorous, often outrageous look at American indulgence.

“Las Vegas is a great exemplification of things that are shared, that are afoot in American culture in a very extreme way,” says Schüll. “All over America, the buffet amplifies things endemic to our society. It doesn’t surprise me this kind of waste, which is celebrated as a public ritual at the buffet, is carrying over to the more private domain of the household. It’s very OK to throw out food.”