Cool Ways Companies Are Reducing Food Waste

Unique solves to the ever-present problem.

Cropped view of mature woman (40s) taking recycling bin out to the curb for collection.

Woman carrying recycle bin

Cropped view of mature woman (40s) taking recycling bin out to the curb for collection.

Photo by: Susan Chiang / iStock

Susan Chiang / iStock

Every year on Earth Day we like to carve out a little bit of time to think about ways that we can reduce our individual impacts on the environment, whether it’s making homemade nontoxic cleaning products or cutting down on how much food ends up in our trash cans. Each little step we take to reduce waste makes a difference, and we’ve found a few companies that embrace the idea that Earth Day is every day by reducing and reusing where they can. A few simple actions that have a positive impact on the environment is something we can all get behind.

Photo by: Philip Gross

Philip Gross

Repurposing Whisky Waste
Barrel bungs (those little stoppers use to seal wooden barrels) are typically the only part of the barrel that’s ever wasted in whisky production. The barrels themselves go on to have several lives, used in making Scotch or beer after whisky and eventually turning into a planter outside of someone’s house.

Chef Newman Miller of Star Hill Provisions at the Maker’s Mark Distillery never lets those bourbon-soaked bungs go to waste. Although the chef rarely repeats a menu item, cold-smoked quail (see photo above) often makes an appearance because it’s a favorite among diners and it gives the chef an excuse to use those barrel bungs as the wood when he smokes food. Chef Miller also uses the bungs to flavor sweet sun tea, which tastes good on its own at a picnic, but even better as part of an Arnold Palmer mixed with a little bit of Maker's to cool off on a hot summer night.


Photo by: Weedezign ©Weedezign

Weedezign, Weedezign

Redistributing Excess Restaurant Food
You may be most familiar with DoorDash as the supplier of your favorite guilty-pleasure restaurant food at home. What you may not know is that they launched a program called Project DASH to redistribute some of the 100,000 pounds of excess food that comes from the average restaurant every year. They’re using the transportation systems they already have in place to pick up leftover food from restaurants and deliver to nonprofits that help feed hungry people. In just about two months they have rescued more than 3,000 pounds of food and donated 1.8 million meals. Whoa. DoorDash currently has food rescue programs in New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and San Jose and is continually expanding.

Recycling Oyster Shells to Make Clothing
The Australian outdoor company, Mountain Designs, embraces the country’s attitude of sustainability being a way of life and not something you necessarily have to feature, so they didn’t think it was a big deal that some of their shirts are made from Seawool™ – fabric made from a blend of oyster shells and plastic bottles. Mind. Blown. Both the bottles and shells are sourced in Taiwan where there are huge mountains of oyster shells (see photo above) that have been discarded from the food industry and the bottles that are found in the ocean as well as recycled from the city. The unique makeup of the fabric make it anti-static, quick-drying and anti-odor, so you can feel good while doing good for the environment.

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