As an underground fire encroaches on nuclear material in St. Louis’ Bridgeton landfill, another half-eaten meal winds up in the trashcan. Food is the largest single category of municipal waste. As it rots underground, it generates flammable methane gas. When the gas ignites, the the resulting smolder is difficult to extinguish or contain. In Bridgeton it has been burning for five years, slowly creeping towards a large deposit of nuclear waste.
The world produces about four billion tons of food every year, and nearly a third of it is wasted. The resources used to produce that food are also wasted, amounting to a quarter of all fresh water consumption, 300 million barrels of oil, and millions of acres of deforestation. Millions more acres are sullied with pesticides and chemical fertilizers to grow food that is ultimately thrown away.
Meanwhile, a billion of Earth’s people are malnourished. Nearly 50 million Americans reported food insecurity last year. They are disproportionately southern, children, veterans, and seniors. Making sure they have enough food to eat is not simply a matter of charity. Hunger is at the root of social problems that affect entire communities.
Waste Not Want Not is a volunteer organization that rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and supplies it to other charitable groups that distribute the food to people in need. Food rescue is a model of efficiency compared to the old-school food drive. A consumer purchases food for about two dollars a pound, but Waste Not Want Not converts one dollar into 14 pounds of food. Everyday, volunteers recover and distribute upwards of five thousand pounds of rescued edibles.
Waste Not Want Not runs on muscle and money. Each week, over one hundred volunteers (from a pool double that size) donate over 500 hours to pick up, sort, and distribute food. The money comes from donations and an annual yard sale. Unsold building materials donated to this year’s yard sale were passed along to Eco Relics, a local architectural salvage company. Like Waste Not Want Not, Eco Relics is working to prevent usable items from ending up in landfills.
This coming March, Eco Relics is hosting a fundraising event for Waste Not Want Not at Eco Relics’ warehouse, an historic converted railroad depot in Jacksonville’s urban core. More information will be available soon, but you do not have to wait for the event to stop by Eco Relics and check out the largest collection of architectural salvage in the Southeast.
Waste Not Want Not contact info: