Art. Clarity. Transformation. (ACT)

OneGreen Society is an environmentally-focused collaborative that meets at the intersection of art, food equity, and education. 

We believe that education can be as inspiring as it is informative and aim to empower young artists and innovative thinkers bringing a unique perspective to environmental education. 

We view art as a form of advocacy and a catalyst for social change that will improve and protect our world. We believe art has a transformative effect that can educate and inspire people to better sustain the Earth and themselves through clean, green, and creative living.

Mission

To inspire conservation efforts by reconnecting individuals with nature. Recognizing the connection between our environment, food access, and health, we promote food equity on the local level.  

Vision

To provide environmental education and support sustainable efforts that transform economically disadvantaged neighborhoods into thriving, vibrant communities. 

The average carbon footprint of OneGreen Society collaborators is lower than the average in America and we plan to keep it that way.


4 ways to start upholding the commitment to a lower carbon footprint are:

Calculate your carbon footprint to set your personal emissions reductions goal.

Leverage the flexibility of current technologies such as video conferencing to prevent unnecessary driving to meetings and informal gathering.

Walk or bike instead of driving, when possible.

Learn why reducing our carbon emissions matters and know that these suggestions are only the beginning of this journey!

LEAD ARTIST 

Amanda Racine

Amanda's illustration style blends semi-realism with moderate influences from anime.

Amanda's Sketchbook


"I’m a mother to two amazing children, with a heart of a child myself. I’ve been an artist as long as I could hold the utensils in my hand. The halls of my childhood home were decorated with my drawings and paintings." - Amanda Racine

Why Support Locally Grown Foods


Local products lower negative environmental impacts, and foods that are naturally in season taste better and stay fresher longer. This partly comes from the decrease in food transportation, but it also comes from organic growers using higher quality soil and healthier practices.

Local food is typically grown with more care and under better standards, using systems that aim to replenish the soil every growing season. This is hard to do on industrial scales due to the pressure of supply and demand; so much industrial growing depletes the soil by a percent each year.

On an economic scale, buying local food puts more money into the local economy. Farmer's markets also attract tourists and builds stronger community while increasing local jobs and keeping farms in operation. 

Buy and Consume More Local Products

Local food products are grown, harvested, and sold in close proximity to where you live. There are so many benefits to being more mindful about where our products are coming from; not only to us as consumers, but to labor workers, small businesses, and the environment.

Buying local cuts down on the transportation between source and retailer, and exponentially decreases the emissions associated with product life cycles from farm to plate. This is significant if we take a moment to imagine the emissions associated with products shipped from the west coast to the east coast, or even overseas. In fact, it’s estimated that we can lower our own carbon footprint by 7% if we shop local more often.

Fast food, chain marketplaces, and similar retailers have transformed our traditional and more meaningful relationship with food. Local farmers were once the key to every community. With today’s fast-paced society, we often choose convenience over what is best for our planet and community.

However, the more we normalize the choice to put small businesses and farmers first, we can shift the popularity towards farmers' markets and local producers. Awareness alongside practice is the key to change.

Adopt A Plant Based Diet

Adding more plants and vegetables to our diets are good for our health and environment. The United Nations has reported one of the best ways we can individually combat climate change is to adopt a diet more full and rich with plant foods. This includes legumes, vegetables (especially seasonal ones to your area), fruits, and grains. 

*Note that many local farmers do crate their produce organically, but don’t have the funds for USDA certification.

There are ways to sustainably source meat and dairy, but the truth is most traditional methods wreak havoc on the environment and are hard to sustain, especially with the growing population of our country and the world. 

Meat products take more land and water to reach harvest and take more energy to process per pound.

While it’s not essential for all of us to adopt entirely plant-based diets, it is a healthy habit and one of the best and most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases associated with climate change.

Vegetarianism and veganism are the lifestyles that use the most plant-based foods and products. But it is also understandable that not everyone has the means to adopt a plant-based diet.

An alternative to a plant-based diet is to start by cutting meat and dairy out of your diet. For example, many people try “Meatless Mondays.” 

How Our Food Choices Impact the Environment


Our lifestyles continuously impact our immediate surroundings and the world. These lifestyle choices include what car we drive, where we live, what activities and hobbies we partake in, and even if we decide to have children or not..

When multiplied by the millions, our diets determine our air, soil, water quality, pollution, and the climate. According to the United Nations, there’s no other lifestyle choice that could more influential to our environments than what we choose to put on our plates.

We consume food from all over the country, and the world, on a daily basis. It’s fair to say that when buying, cooking or ordering, and eating our food, we seldom reflect on the systems that supply food to 327 million Americans. Some of these systems are in operation twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week.

The foods we purchase and consume have a direct effect on the soil. Emissions are also released during the processing, packaging, and transportation of goods - not to mention the additional waste we produce during each stage of processing and selling food.

We can all make more informed choices about where and what we buy. This would cause domino effects in the supply and demand chain. When more people consciously make better food choices, it lessens environmental and climate impacts.

What We Really Need to Digest About Food Waste

Our food waste is accelerating climate change.

Aside from the food waste we naturally generate, it’s estimated that ⅓ of all food produced worldwide goes to waste before it can be consumed. The excess, along with the remains of our consumed or purchased food waste, creates an accelerant to climate change as it decomposes. As food waste decomposes, greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere, in particular, methane.

Methane is a greenhouse gas over five times more damaging to the climate when compared to carbon dioxide and is released into the atmosphere, largely, from decomposing material.

It’s estimated that halting our food waste would be the equivalent of removing 37 million cars from the road per year in America.

Food waste is energy waste. 

Every time we waste or throw out food, we hardly consider the energy that went into the production. Landfills contain more than just the remnants of our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners; they are visual representations of every ounce of water, fuel, and electricity that went into each phase of a food’s life cycle.

The life cycle of food includes the growing, harvesting, transporting, and packaging phases of each product.

Most of us grew up hearing our parents say, “Clean your plate --- there are starving people out there who would be grateful for what you have.” There is a lot of truth behind this saying.

Wasting food is a direct disrespect to the labor, energy, and purpose that goes into making sure we are nutritionally sustained.

Our obsession with expiration dates is out of control. 

How often have you checked the expiration date on a food product and immediately tossed it into the garbage when you saw it was one day over? We’ve all been there.

Unfortunately, the expiration dates on our foods have been misinterpreted for years. These dates cause us to fear the quality and safety of our food based on a number that holds little to no weight.

The USDA has openly stated that even if your product has exceeded the expiration date, the quality and longevity of the product will surpass it and is safe to use until spoilage is absolutely noticeable and evident.

To decode our products, the “Best if Used By/Before” date is a suggestion to consume for the best flavor, and is not in any way a food safety posting. The “Sell By” date is only a guide for retailers to sell the product on their shelves and is also not related to the safety of the product. And lastly, the “Use-By” date is the recommended date to consume the product for the best experience and does not state that the food or product has spoiled.

This aspect of food waste remains understudied. But if Americans were more educated on the dates stamped to our products and what they mean, the reduction in food waste would be astronomical. 

Food Waste is a Humanitarian and Environmental Concern

On average, 39.7 million tons of food waste is generated each year in the United States, meaning our food makes up roughly 15% of all municipal solid waste, or MSW, that we create annually. These numbers are estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which includes food waste created by residential homes and facilities, and commercial and institutional sources; totally excluding the amount created from massive industrial sources.

What happens to the majority of that food waste? More often than not, it’s shipped to the nearest landfill and remains there with other components included in municipal solid waste: plastics, wood, metals, glass, textiles, and organic matter from yard trimmings. This makes up the additional 13%, 7%, 9%, 4%, 6%, and 13%, respectively, of MSW, on average.

Managing all the food waste from a population of 327 million Americans is a hefty responsibility. As years pass, the population is growing, the climate is changing, and the demand for food, agriculture, and manufacturing is increasing. It will be imperative in waste management to develop more comprehensive plans that address the mitigation of our waste.

It seems like the fight against plastic has taken over the waste world, and that’s important; but we can’t forget about food waste, which accounts for a large majority of our waste in total. Creating some waste is normal, but we must address the commonality in our society of being wasteful. Reducing food waste largely depends on us as consumers.

Easy Ways to Stop Wasting Food

Don’t over serve and be creative with leftovers 

Most of us have the habit of overfilling our plates at meal time. Instead, we should focus on portioning our meals with more care, starting with one serving, and going back for seconds if we’re still hungry.


Leftovers from meals should never be discarded. Find creative ways to integrate your leftovers into other meals the next day or throughout the week.

Combining these two strategies are guaranteed to help reduce your food waste.

Compost  

Composting is an excellent way to keep your food waste out of landfills. It allows more oxygen to reach the decomposing material and drastically lowers its methane output. Plus, it creates nutrient-dense fertilizer to use for growing crops and flowers.

More recently, many municipalities have developed curb-side composting programs for a flat fee.

If you don't have the space for composting on your own property or have access to curbside composting, many community gardens and local farmers welcome food scraps to use for their growing seasons.

Composting is a great way to help the planet, and it’s a wonderful way to feel good about yourself while becoming more active in your community.

Buy less food

While it can be convenient to stock up on groceries on a weekly or biweekly basis, this habit makes it easier to end up with uneaten or spoiled food by the end of the week. You may be surprised by how much money you toss into the garbage every time you leave food uneaten, uncooked, or unused.

Try meal planning. You can start by simplifying your grocery list, especially with perishables. Be mindful at the end of the week while you are cleaning out your fridge to make room for the next grocery order. What did you use all of and definitely need more of next time you shop? What didn’t you use at all? What items did you throw away? 

Estimate how much money you spent on the excess food entering the waste stream. The planet and your wallet will thank you once you develop less wasteful grocery shopping habits!

Food equity is the concept that all people have the right to healthy and fresh food under quality standards. The idea is that no matter if richer or poorer, or where you live, you have the right to access food that will benefit the health of you and your family; without question. It’s a concept that has been discussed for years, but has blossomed into a form of its own alongside the environmental movement. 

Food is a staple in human life than cannot be skipped or replaced. On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, food serves as the basic foundation of human life, next to water, warmth, and rest. Without it, humans are unable to focus on other pillars of society: work and careers, self-accomplishment and exploration, belonging and community. 

In a spiritual sense, food is a uniting force that brings people together and creates a common bond. It also strengthens (figuratively and literally) the one society that we all share.

So, how is it that we can expect our nation and society to function at its highest potential and progression, if over 41 million Americans, including 13 million children, are food insecure this year? Inequality is not only seen in political, institutional, or gender-based realms, it’s seen in every community in regards to who has access to food.

Food access is not the only issue. Food equity is measured based on the quality of the food in distribution. Many of us have the luxury of living close to supermarkets. If we don’t, we have the luxury of transportation to get us there. We may even examine our food labels, searching for organic, certified local, or natural products. For the 41 million Americans mentioned, that luxury isn’t an option. Many need to choose between food or rent, food or medications, food or clothing, food or heat; the list goes on. Communities and households who are food insecure are more likely to experience mental health issues, domestic violence, sickness, and more. 

What happens to people without cars, or enough money for regular public transportation? What happens to residents in rural communities, whose closest food retailer may be a local store with limited options? What happens to those who are disabled and rely on others, or programs, for their food needs? These are important questions to keep in mind when discussing food equity - quality food access for all. 

When every member of a household or community has ongoing access to nutritious foods that promote healthy, active lifestyles, this is food security. To be food secure benefits the people. Furthermore, it prevents numerous diseases caused by cheaper options such as highly processed and fast foods.

The goal of food security is to have as many people as possible with continuous food access that promotes better health, narrowing the gateway to a multitude of negative health implications caused by the limited availability of quality foods.

How is Composting Part of the Solution?

40% of everything grown and harvested in the United States is not eaten; it either spoils before it can be sold, is left in fields due to physical deformities in shape or color, or is thrown out by us in our homes. With 41 million Americans experiencing food insecurity, it’s mind-blowing to digest the fact that over ⅓ of what we produce is wasted.

Compost collected by curbside programs or via member drop-off turns into nutrient-dense fertilizer, perfect for growing crops. Realistically, composting alone won't solve every problem in relation to food insecurity. But it is a foundational element in creating community systems that foster food production and distribution; even in economically disadvantaged environments.

Community composting is a project design that can be replicated in nearly every neighborhood. We can develop local composting programs with community members under volunteering hours, local government-sponsored programs, grants, or local voting that diverts tax-dollars to increase the production of healthy, locally grown food provided at no cost to community members in need.

Additionally, residents could participate in community garden spaces with the sole purpose of providing food for elderly, disabled, or lower-income members as volunteers or hired staff to help manage and assist with the planting, upkeep, harvesting, and distribution of grown food.

It may seem like a far-fetched, expensive, and impossible idea, but we’ve seen many of these exact programs popping up in rural and urban communities all over the country. The best part? No food is wasted. Any food that spoils inside of the garden spaces is turned over to the composting systems on-site; only to repeat a sustainable cycle for the next growing season. Rates of food insecurity decrease, and the overall health and the feeling of true community increases.

We know food insecurity is a discussion full of differentiating factors; climate change, politics, etc. However, a little community can go a long way in the fight to ensure everyone’s right to food that is not only affordable, or even free of charge, but healthy and nutritious. A population that is healthy and well satisfied helps to lower the spread of disease, improves the economy, boosts job rates, lowers crime, and can improve totality in the mental health arena.

Would you try community composting? Does your community have a garden program? 

Do you compost? If not, what are you waiting for?

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