Climate Partners Summit Resources

Climate Partners Summit Resources

On February 25, 2021, over 70 interested partners and citizens joined the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) for a virtual Climate Partners Summit, featuring brief presentation from a variety of organizations working to address the effects of climate change in our community.

Click here for a video recording of this 90 minute event, or look for the “video clip” links in the text below to skip directly to a specific presenter.

UVAW co-chair Erich Osterberg, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College kicked off the afternoon event with an update on the latest climate science (slides | video clip). Another UVAW member, and host of the Summit, Kevin Geiger from Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission, then provided a helpful explanation of what we mean when we talk about “Climate Adaptation” versus “Climate Mitigation” (slides | video clip)

The highlight of the event was a series of presentations from partner organizations, each presenting for roughly four minutes, aided by four slides. Their contact information, along with slides and video clips, are linked below.

Michael Caduto, Director – Sustainable Woodstock (slides | video clip)
Matt Cahillane, Program Manager – NH Department of Public Health Services (slides | video clip)
Kate McCarthy, AICP, Sustainable Communities Program Director – Vermont Natural Resources Council (slides | video clip)
Peg Merrens, Vice President, Conservation – Upper Valley Land Trust (slides | video clip)
Ron Rhodes, Director of Restoration Programs – Connecticut River Conservancy (slides | video clip)
Jack Spicer, Clerk, Climate Advisory Committee for the Town of Hartford (slides | video clip)
Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist – Green Mountain Power (slides | video clip)

Attendees were encouraged to subscribe to the Upper Valley Climate Action discussion list, an email-based service allowing anyone in the Upper Valley to share and discuss opportunities related to local climate action. Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup, the host of the Summit, encouraged organizations in attendance to consider joining the workgroup, which meets monthly to discuss and coordinate climate adaptation activities throughout the Upper Valley.

A follow up event will be held at Noon on March 24, 2021. This virtual Climate Connections lunch will feature casual, small group discussions on what we’re all doing to address climate change in the Upper Valley. Following an “Open Space” facilitation format, participants will propose topics at the start of the hour, then break out into small groups to discuss and make connections. This event is free an open to the public. Click here to register.

Climate Partners Summit February 25

Climate change has the potential to affect everyone on the planet and virtually every aspect of our lives, including here in the Upper Valley.

The good news is that many throughout the Upper Valley are working to combat climate change and help our communities adapt—from utilities switching to low-carbon power sources to communities creating riverside buffer zones.

The public is invited to find out the range of ways climate change impacts our region, who is doing what, and how individuals can get involved, at a Climate Partners Summit on Thursday, Feb. 25, 3 to 4:30 pm.  

Hosted by the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW), the summit starts with an update on the latest climate science followed by a panel of UVAW partners sharing how climate adaptation weaves through many areas of work. Speakers are:

  • Michael Caduto, Director – Sustainable Woodstock
  • Matt Cahillane, Program Manager – NH Department of Public Health Services
  • Kevin Geiger, AICP – Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission 
  • Kate McCarthy, AICP, Sustainable Communities Program Director – Vermont Natural Resources Council
  • Peg Merrens, Vice President, Conservation – Upper Valley Land Trust  
  • Erich Osterberg, Associate Professor of Earth Sciences – Dartmouth College
  • Ron Rhodes, Director of Restoration Programs – Connecticut River Conservancy
  • Jack Spicer, Clerk, Climate Advisory Committee for the Town of Hartford 
  • Graham Turk, Innovation Strategist – Green Mountain Power

Founded in 2011, UVAW is a bi-state group representing state and regional environmental and health organizations, universities, regional planning commissions, municipalities, and employers. Vital Communities is an active UVAW member and provides administrative support for the workgroup. UVAW meets monthly to focus on building climate-resilient communities in the Upper Valley and holds semi-annual information sessions addressing broad aspects of climate change mitigation and adaptation. 

UVAW and Vital Communities also run the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA),  a six-session program aiming to educate, inspire, and prepare participants to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities. 2CLA is accepting applications through February 14 for its 2021 sessions, which run March through June.

Summit organizers hope the event will offer attendees a sense of how climate change impacts their work and communities, and which other individuals and organizations they could team up with, in their own efforts. 

“Anyone attending this event will see the breadth and depth of the work that’s going on,” said Kevin Geiger, Senior Planner for the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, long-time UVAW member, and moderator of the summit panel. “Oftentimes it’s easy to be reading the paper and think, ‘Gosh, this is a really big problem. Why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?’ When in fact, people are doing something about it. You just need to tune into the right channels.”

Geiger said he hopes people will make new connections. “I don’t think it’s obvious to people that conserving farmland might be a climate adaptation move, that streambank buffers and other measures around  water quality are also a climate adaptation moves.” The summit will look at what’s already happening in the Upper Valley through the lens of climate adaptation. “We’re hoping those partners can make connections during the event and discover new connections and partnerships around our shared climate goals.”

 

 

 

The 2021 Climate Change Leadership Academy is Recruiting!

Combatting climate change depends not just on major national and global policy, but also on action within our local community.

Promoting citizen-driven, community-level action is the goal of the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA), which is accepting applications from January 11 through February 14 for its 2021 session. The program from March to June.

2CLA is a program of the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW), a group of leaders and partner organizations striving to make the region more resilient to climate change, coordinated by Vital Communities.

The organizers seek a diverse class of 25 participants from across different social groupings (age, town, socio-economic status, race/ethnicity, gender identity, etc.), with each participant bringing a unique perspective to the cohort. UVAW believes that a learning environment rich in diversity and full of opportunities to engage with unfamiliar ideas, perspectives, cultures, and people will prepare participants to become change agents in their communities. Prior knowledge of climate change is not required. Tuition is $30, and scholarships are available.

Those 25 participants will attend six sessions that will include expert presentations, group discussion, and collaborative work sessions on climate change, including what is happening globally and locally, and what can be done about it. The 2CLA curriculum will teach participants how to use a design-thinking approach to develop solutions to climate change problems. The program is based on the belief that climate solutions must be accessible to individuals who are most directly affected by climate change, so participants will learn how to seek and incorporate input from climate-vulnerable populations into project design. By the end of this program, participants will be expected to apply their learning and develop a community service project that promotes climate resiliency.

“The impacts of climate change have never been so clear and concerning; record-high wildfires, hurricanes, and temperatures, another summer drought here in New England, and rising sea levels,” said Erich Osterberg, UVAW vice chair and associate professor of earth sciences at Dartmouth. We need to empower citizen leaders to help our local communities reduce greenhouse gases while also becoming more resilient to the climate changes that are already happening.”

Sessions will take place every other Wednesday evening from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, starting March 24, 2021, with the graduation taking place June 16, 2021. The sessions will be held virtually via zoom until it is safe to meet in person. Any in-person meetings will follow COVID-19 safety precautions and participants can opt for remote participation. Attendance is expected at every meeting and a light dinner will be provided for any in-person session.

Session topics are as follows:

  • Wednesday, March 24 – Session 1: Understanding Climate Change
  • Wednesday, April 2 – Session 2: Mitigation
  • Wednesday, April 21 – Session 3: Adaptation
  • Wednesday, May 5 – Session 4: Opportunities for local action
  • Wednesday, May 19 – Session 5: Project Development
  • Wednesday, June 2 – Session 6: How to be a leader
  • Wednesday, June 16 – Graduation

Questions? Contact Caroline Wren, Vital Communities Climate Change Leadership Academy Coordinator, at 2cla@vitalcommunities.org or 802-291-9100 x114

The 2CLA program was previously offered from October 2019 through May 2019. This year’s Climate Change Leadership Academy is made possible in part by support from the New England Grassroots Fund, Vermont Communities Foundation, and The Cotyledon Fund.

Climate Change Resources

Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup and Vital Communities present:

Upper Valley Climate Change Leadership Academy

RESOURCES

Session Goals:

Our shared question for this session: What role can we play, as Climate Change Leaders, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

We have three goals for Session 2:

  1. Develop common language, framing, and context around the topic of “climate mitigation” in the Upper Valley. Where do our emissions come from and what will it take to reduce them?
  2. Compile a library of what works to reduce emissions, especially examples where Climate Change Leaders (like you!) can take action and make a difference.
  3. Discuss what we can do as Climate Change Leaders in the Upper Valley to make an impact with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. Together you will begin to capture ideas for possible Leadership Academy projects.
Session Materials:
Resources:

State Climate and Energy Goals/Plans

Vermont:

New Hampshire:

Carbon Calculators & At Home Tips

Carbon Offsets

Best Practices for Sustainable Development (International)

Carbon Sequestration

Food / Agriculture

Transportation

Adaptation Session

AGENDA:

  • Climate Change Adaptation Presentation Sherry Godlewski, Resilience and Adaptation Manager, NH Department of Environmental Services
  • Stakeholder Activity 1- (Notes)
    • Objective: From your stakeholder group’s perspective, discuss the climate impacts that we are/will be experiencing, and adaptation opportunities to become more resilient.
  • Climate Scenario Roleplay Activity 2-(Notes)
    • Objective: Gain an understanding of what’s important to other stakeholders, and how you might address a climate impact in your community.
  • Wrap Up
    • Evaluations
    • Community Projects
    • Next session preview

HOMEWORK Due January 3rd:

 

 

LINKS:

AGENDA

Welcome & Introductions 

Dartmouth Student Project Announcement

Project Idea Pitch 

  • Fill out project idea template
  • Anyone who has an idea will give a 1 minute pitch
  • If you don’t have a project idea in mind, listen to other ideas and see if there is interest in partnering with other 2CLA leaders on their project

Project Pitch Discussion/Convergence 

  • Participants self-select into groups around the room
  • Opportunity to find potential partners and form project teams, ask questions about project ideas

Project Charter: Specifics on action plan (2CLA Project Charter Template)          

  • Instruction on how to fill out charter
  • Workshop time
  • Takeways

Wrap up

  • Evaluations
  • Preview of next session: Leadership & Skills development
  • Post session HW: Complete project template, give feedback to another group

2019 Leadership Academy Meeting Dates

October 9, 2019
November 13, 2019
January 8, 2020
February 12, 2020
March 11, 2020
April 8, 2020

Participants are expected to attend all meetings, and must attend at least five meetings to graduate.

Questions?

Contact Ana Mejia
ana@vitalcommunities.org
802-291-9100 x114

What is the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA)?

2CLA, a new project of the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) and Vital Communities, will educate, inspire, and prepare 25 Upper Valley participants to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities. Participants will:

  • Learn what is happening globally and locally and what can be done about it.
  • Participate in presentations, group discussions, and collaborative work sessions.
  • Design and launch a project as a climate leader to make a difference in their own community.
  • Graduate ready to inspire, motivate, and encourage others to take action.

Each participant will develop a project individually or as part of a small team. Each project will have support and input from the rest of the class. These projects may take any form and might involve art, public education, community work days, or any other activity that generates positive community impact related to climate change. Projects will be shared at a public celebration at the end of the program.

Special Thanks

The 2019 Climate Change Leadership Academy is made possible in part by support from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences at Dartmouth.

About the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup

The Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) is a bi-state, multi-stakeholder working group of leaders and partner organizations. Started in December 2011, the workgroup meets monthly to focus on building climate resilient communities in the Upper Valley.

Our Working Definition of Climate Resiliency

Climate Resiliency is the ability of a community to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate impacts in a way that minimizes significant disruption to our lives and impacts on our shared resources. This includes our health, safety, built environment, food availability, natural resources, wildlife, and financial strength.

Climate change is not some distant problem – it is happening here and now in the Upper Valley. In recent years, we have seen climate disruptions affect our communities in the form of droughts, deluges, ice and hail storms, intense cold snaps, and sudden heat waves. We must recognize these increasingly frequent extreme weather events for what they are: our new normal. 

Stay up to date for our upcoming forums & events and connect with adaptation resources and experts.

UVAW Members

Sherry Godlewski
NH Department of Environmental Services, Co-Chair UVAW
sgodlewski@des.state.nh.us

Alice Ely
Public Health Council of the Upper Valley
alice.ely@uvpublichealth.org

Michael Simpson
Antioch University New England
msimpson@antioch.edu

Gregory Norman
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
gregory.a.norman@hitchcock.org

Alex Jaccaci
Hypertherm, Co-Chair UVAW
alex.jaccaci@hypertherm.com

Kevin Geiger
Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission
kgeiger@trorc.org

Julia Griffin
Town of Hanover
julia.griffin@hanovernh.org

Lizann Peyton
Nonprofit Consultant
lizann.peyton@gmail.com

Ana Mejia
Vital Communities
ana@vitalcommunities.org

Sarah Brock
Vital Communities
sarah@vitalcommunities.org

Meghan Butts
Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission
mbutts@uvlsrpc.org

Mark Goodwin
City of Lebanon
mark.goodwin@lebcity.com

Rosi Kerr
Dartmouth College
rosalie.e.kerr@dartmouth.edu

Beth Sawin
Climate Interactive
esawin@climateinteractive.org

Lisa Wise
UNH Extension and NH Sea Grant
lisa.wise@unh.edu

Erich Osterberg
Dartmouth College
erich.c.osterberg@dartmouth.edu

Jenny Levy
Hypertherm
jenny.levy@hypertherm.com

Cameron Wake
University of NH, Carbon Solutions New England
cameron.wake@unh.edu

Need to Contact Us?

Ana Mejia, Climate Projects Coordinator at Vital Communities | ana@vitalcommunities.org, 802-291-9100 x114

Alex Jaccaci & Sherry Godlewski, UVAW Co-Chairs | alex.jaccaci@hypertherm.com and sherry.godlewski@des.nh.gov

Jump into Climate Action In Hartford!

In December 2019 the Town of Hartford and the Hartford School District adopted the historic Joint Resolution Declaring a Climate Emergency, setting in motion an urgently needed positive first step to addressing climate change at the local level. Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed to put the Resolution into action. Now, the time has come to once again engage the entire community in shaping the future of Hartford for the betterment of all residents.

Volunteers are needed to help the Town of Hartford create a Climate Action Plan. Working with paleBLUEdot, a climate action-planning consultancy, we must gather together to build a plan that ensures that Hartford thrives even as it works to mitigate the impacts of climate change on all and to adapt to the changing climate.

Creative solutions and a wide array of perspectives are essential to our success. Hartford residents, as well as residents of Lebanon, Hanover, Norwich and the surrounding area are all welcome. 

Representatives from local government, public agencies, local colleges/universities, the business community, environmental groups, social equity groups, and the general community are needed.

Eight general working groups are envisioned; individuals with experience or interest in any of these areas are encouraged to identify one or more areas of interest as part of their contribution to the planning team.

✔ transportation and land use

✔ waste management

✔ local food and agriculture

✔ energy and the built environment

✔ health and safety

✔ water, wastewater management, flood control

✔ greenspaces

✔ economic development and the climate economy

 

The Commitment:

Climate Action Team volunteers will participate in four workshops over the course of several months to explore, review, prioritize, and refine elements of the Climate Action Plan. The expected time commitment is in the range of 20-30 hours.

Interested? Contact Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee to sign up for the Climate Action Team.

Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee

Erik Krauss (ekrauss@bluevertex.com)

Ana Mejia (ana@vitalcommunities.org)

Jack Spicer (jacktspicer@gmail.com)

Community Conversations: Resilience Through Local Food Security

A community conversation about increasing resilience through local food production and working lands

Join Vital Communities, Land for Good, and other partners to talk about the working lands that feed and sustain our community in a series of three virtual forums in New Hampshire titled “Community Resilience through Local Food Security.” Each forum focuses on a different region within New Hampshire and involves specific to that region.

The pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of local farms and working lands. Hear from neighbor farmers about their land challenges and successes and learn about land access tools from Land for Good.

Connect with your neighbors and farmers as we break in smaller groups to talk about the nut and bolts of increasing productive farmland in the region, how to increase resilience through local food security, and how farms are adapting to climate change.

October 20, 6:30-8 pm: Lebanon/Mascoma Valley

Join the Hanover Co-op Food Stores and local farmers.

Register here

 

October 27, 6:30-8 pm: Kearsarge Region

Join the Kearsarge Food Hub, Spring Ledge Farm, and others.

Register here

 

November 2, 6:30-8 pm: Claremont/Newport area

Join Beaver Pond Farm, the Upper Valley Land Trust, and others.

Register here.

Upper Valley Everyone Eats

We are launching Upper Valley Everyone Eats! Between September 8 and December 18, approximately 2,500 meals from local restaurants will be available weekly across the Upper Valley’s Vermont community meal programs and food pantries. These nutritionally balanced meals, made in part with ingredients from local farms and food businesses, are being  offered through a new Vermont state program which pays hard-hit Vermont restaurants $10 per meal to create nutritious meals for Vermont residents in need of food assistance at this difficult time. Get the details!

2CLA Graduate Spotlight: Climate Change Hike at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP

 

The Climate Change Leadership Academy Class (2CLA) of 2020 graduated in May amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to highlight the inspiring climate leaders who attended the leadership academy meetings. In addition, we want to share the projects that leaders designed and plan to launch in order to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Upper Valley. Read the first profile, of Tunbridge, VT, artist Cecily Anderson and her Climate Farmer Project.

The next 2CLA graduate we would like to spotlight is Leah Marshall. When asked about her favorite part of 2CLA, Leah mentioned how much she appreciated the first session where participants learned about ways climate change is impacting the Upper Valley, as well as ways to communicate climate science clearly.

For her climate action project, Leah recognized the opportunity to integrate her project with her position working as the Natural Resource Intern at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP practices adaptive management using ecologically-minded forestry techniques, it is the only National Historical Park that is actively forested. She wanted to tie in the audience at the Park, which includes local Upper Valley residents and visitors or tourists who come to explore Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP. Park visitors are an ideal audience so Leah decided to create a guided hike that explores climate change at the Park. Another goal of Leah’s was to encourage visitors to adventure out on the beautiful carriage roads and trails in Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP.

Leah researched and wrote about how climate change is projected to impact forest diversity and resilience. She believes it is important to highlight forest vulnerability because sometimes the impacts of climate change are not so evident. Indeed, there are no glaciers in the Upper Valley melting. Leah said, “People don’t necessarily think about the whole ecosystem impacts of climate change.” She set out to share specific examples of how climate change has impacted forest health, specifically in Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP forests. For example, the range of the white oaks may shift because changing conditions are less favorable as well as sugar maple which then impact animal habitat, food sources, and local economies.

In addition to her research about forest health, Leah interviewed the superintendent of the Marsh-Billing-Rockefeller NHP to gain more information. The booklet she designed is similar to a junior ranger booklet that includes a hiking map and readings for each of the stops. There are 10 stops along the route. Leah planned the Climate Change Hike to be a self-guided experience, so her project was not dramatically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The hike is designed for a junior ranger education level and can be done while socially distancing, but all are welcome to take part in the self-guided climate change hike. Booklets are available in the map boxes in the front of the Carriage Barn Visitor Center.

Leah is now pursuing a graduate degree at Northern Arizona University studying environmental science and conducting paleoclimate research.

 

 

2CLA Graduate Spotlight: Digging in on the Climate Crisis

The Climate Change Leadership Academy Class (2CLA) of 2020 graduated in May amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to highlight the inspiring climate leaders who attended the leadership academy meetings. In addition, we want to share the projects that leaders designed and plan to launch in order to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Upper Valley.

The first 2CLA graduate in the spotlight is Cecily Anderson. During her 2CLA experience, Cecily appreciated the smart and articulate facilitators who presented at the meetings. Cecily, who is an illustrator and artist, is passionate about sustainable agriculture and aware of the potential for farming practices to mitigate climate change. She decided to pursue an art-centered, self-driven project she calls The Climate Farmer Project, to celebrate farmers who are leading the way in land-based climate change techniques in the Upper Valley. The main goals of the Climate Farmer Project are to support farmers who are fighting climate change; help local consumers understand the connection between local food choices and climate; and encourage people to implement practices themselves.

Cecily sees value in promoting farmers who are investing in practices such as improving soil fertility and water retention, rotational grazing, cutting farm emissions, and sequestering carbon. In the Upper Valley, many farmers are using their land to draw down carbon. Cecily has a handful of farmers in mind and wants to highlight a diversity of growers from across the board. Her plan is to interview farmers and create portraits that include a description of their farms and how they are working to combat the climate crisis. These portraits would be displayed in public spaces like schools, libraries, co-ops, and farmers markets.

Another goal of the project is to emphasize the growing value that climate-conscious food has for consumers. This may incentivize food retailers to create a system in which farmers are rewarded, through the marketplace, for their climate mitigation and adaptation techniques.

One aspect of The Climate Farmer Project that aligns well with 2CLA’s mission is to inspire home growers and farmers to adopt practices that combat climate change, however big or small. As climate leaders, it is important to call attention to how our food choices support climate action and educate others on how they can take action through land management.

Giving recognition to farmers who are installing mitigation and adaptation practices in the local Upper Valley foodshed is valuable work. COVID-19 threw a wrench in the works, prompting Cecily to pause her project. Moving forward, Cecily hopes to find a funding source and set aside time to launch the thoughtful project she designed.

The COVID Challenge: Making Our Food Go the Distance

Reprinted from the Summer 2020 Sustainable Hanover newsletter, this article addresses how to reduce food waste and its considerable climate impact. Author Nancy Serrell is a graduate of Vital Communities’ 2019-20 Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA).

By Nancy Serrell

Food is always on my mind. And now that we’re in throes of the coronavirus pandemic, I have plenty of company. Most of us these days are thinking about food – how to get it, how to prepare it, and how to avoid becoming ill with COVID-19 while we’re trying to feed ourselves. 

The virus also has changed our behaviors around food. We’re at home more, cooking most of our meals at home, trying to space out trips to the grocery store, and too many of us are struggling to accommodate household budgets decimated by furloughs and layoffs. While those inclined toward culinary pursuits are baking sourdough bread and re-growing scallions, the rest of us just wish it were easier, faster, and less expensive to put all those meals on the table.

The good news: by making small changes in the way we plan, shop, store and prepare food we can stretch our food budget, save time, and extend the life of the food we buy. A step-by-step strategy for making those changes, along with tips and tools, has been developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a campaign designed to cut down on the amount of food we bring home from the market but never eat. When food scraps go to the landfill, they create methane, a potent greenhouse gas. That wasted food is a vastly overlooked driver of climate change, contributing an estimated 8 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions. We throw out more edible food than you think: each year, one third of the food purchased by U.S consumers is tossed out. But food waste is about more than what goes into the trash. Getting food from farm to fork takes an enormous amount of resources—energy, land, and water — and conserving those resources for future generations will require collective action. But right now, during lockdown, there are things each of us can do.

The EPA’s Food Too Good to Waste campaign presents a “wasted food challenge” along with steps we can take to better manage the food in our kitchens. The program has been implemented in dozens of states, and people who have participated have been able to cut the amount of food they toss as much as 50 percent. They also reported saving both money and time, and most found the steps rather easy.

The strategies for the challenge lend themselves well to managing food during COVID, and you may already be doing some of them (or know you should). First: to cut down on how often you shop, make a shopping list with weekly meals in mind. Even more important: do a household inventory before you head to the store. Research has shown that you can save money and reduce food waste by taking stock of what is in your fridge, freezer, and pantry, then planning meals around what you have on hand. This is the way our grandmothers cooked, and the food cultures of the world have always featured well-loved dishes use repurposed foods — leftover rice became fried rice; hard, stale bread became pappa al pomodoro

As we try to shop less often, we are bringing home more food than we’re used to. To make our food will last until the next shopping trip, it helps to pick up a few tips about food storage, and the EPA campaign has plenty to offer. For example, the fridge door is warmer than interior shelves, so milk shouldn’t go there. Apples and bananas naturally emit the fruit-ripening hormone ethylene, so don’t store them together unless you want them to ripen rapidly. Nor should apples or bananas be stored near ethylene-sensitive veggies or fruits like avocados, grapes, lemons, or limes. Another storage tip: Befriend your freezer. Parsley stems, the ends of the onion you’re slicing, peels and trimmings from carrots can be tossed into a freezer container to be used for soup stock. There are cooking tips too: Chopping half an onion for a recipe? Chop the whole thing, and store the prepped remainder in the fridge or freezer, ready for a stir fry or sauce. 

More tips, tools, and strategies to help you toss less, eat well, and save money are available in a simple online toolkit, the 10-Minute Fridge Reality Check, produced by StopFoodWaste.org.  It includes a downloadable Shopping List with Meals in Mind, a Fruit and Veggie Storage Guide, and an Eat This First sign to designate an area in your fridge for food that is likely to spoil first. 

When it comes to food, the pandemic has in many ways created this generation’s Depression moment. A recent survey found that 56 percent of consumers say they are avoiding food waste and saving leftovers for future use. One of the drivers of this food planning strategy is COVID-19 unemployment. But the specter of dairy farmers dumping milk and plowing crops back into the soil, eggs being destroyed, and chickens being euthanized as the loss of retail markets forced producers to discard tons of food worldwide has made us reassess the value of food. Like our grandparents, we may well come out of COVID with a new culture of responsibility around food. It’s some comfort to know there’s a lot we can do from our own kitchens.