Sustainable America recently launched I Value Food, an online campaign to publicize the weighty facts of food waste in the United States. The campaign, which links everyday food purchases and home cooking habits to a larger narrative about overconsumption, helps food lovers waste less food—and less money.
I Value Food uses interactive design elements to creatively communicate its message. A portion of the webpage breaks down the amount of food wasted by each meal of the day. A photo of a hearty breakfast elides into easy-to-read food-waste statistics; for instance, one glass of orange juice requires 45 gallons of water to produce. The site also includes an informative video and a waste quiz to help consumers understand the impact of their choices.
I Value Food exemplifies Sustainable America’s approach to sustainability—to not only advocate for less consumption, but to also pioneer the alternatives. The campaign does not shame consumers, but rather supports a more economically and ecologically sustainable purchasing ethic.
“I Value Food addresses the need for a consumer-facing website that lets people know the size and scope of the problem, and it also provides viewers with the tools to take action,” says Sustainable America’s executive director, Jeremy Kranowitz.
In addition to the dynamic presentation of food waste facts, I Value Food gives eaters actionable articles and resources, from tips on hosting a salvaged dinner party to a list of helpful waste-countering websites.
Sustainable America’s focus on food waste stems from its larger mission to address overconsumption in two interlinked industries in the U.S.: food and fuel. After shelter, food and transportation are the two largest expenses for Americans. These systems are very fragile—if food and fuel systems were more efficient and resilient, all Americans would benefit, especially those lowest on the economic ladder.
In conjunction with educational campaigns like I Value Food, Sustainable America works to create viable, ecologically-minded alternatives in the food and fuel industries. To do so, the organization funds seed or angel investments to socially responsible businesses creating innovative alternatives to large-scale agriculture and fossil fuels (a principle known as “impact investing”). As a 501(c)(3) public charity that invests in for-profit companies, the organization demonstrates a unique model. According to Sustainable America, it must balance the risk-taking necessary for the advancement of sustainability with proper stewardship of capital.
“I firmly believe that impact investing is going to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in the investment world,” says Sustainable America founder Nick Tiller. “There’s an enormous appetite for investments which earn strong returns and accomplish something good in the world at the same time.”
In 2014, Sustainable America, with partner organizations, pledged US$10 million in impact investments over a five-year period. With this growing investment budget, Sustainable America will push for an investment portfolio of 15 companies by the end of 2015, and act as a catalyst for sustainable impact.
“If you’re running a mutual fund and trading GE and IBM and Mega Cap stocks, you don’t have time to look at a company with half a million in revenues a year,” says Kranowitz. “We are looking at about 200 companies a year and selectively investing in four or five.”
Given this opportunity to select companies that best support Sustainable America’s mission, Kranowitz highlights the organization’s ability to help consumers, donors, and other investors discover companies that value long-term ecological health, but might otherwise fly under the radar.
By supporting a shift in personal food choices with campaigns like I Value Food, and by publicizing their impactful investments, Sustainable America addresses the need for a drastic change in the culture of consumerism in the United States.