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NRDC Updates 'Wasted'; Enlists Dan Barber, Alexa for Phase 2 of 'Save the Food' Campaign

Image credit: Ad Council

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Ad Council today launched the second phase of their Save The Food national public service campaign, aimed at combatting America’s food waste problem from its largest source — consumers. In doing so, they seek to reduce the massive amount of money, water and energy that is wasted along with it.

Along with phase two of Save The Food, which is raising consumer awareness and empowering people with the tools they need to waste less food and money, the groups are releasing an update to NRDC’s landmark Wasted report that provides new statistics and analysis on the environmental, social and economic impacts of food waste.

Wasted 2.0: A Follow-Up to NRDC’s Landmark Report

NRDC’s groundbreaking 2012 report, Wasted, sparked a national conversation on food waste — for the first time shining a spotlight on the fact that up to 40 percent of the food in the U.S. is thrown away uneaten. The 2017 edition of the report — written by Dana Gunders, NRDC senior scientist and author of the Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook, with Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland and creator of WastedFood.com — provides updated statistics on the environmental, economic and social impacts, analyzes areas of progress at the government, business and consumer levels in the last five years, and offers policy solutions for combating the problem.

Among other things, it reveals that America throws out more than 400 pounds of food per person per year, at an annual cost of $218 billion (up from $165 billion in 2012), and consumers are responsible for 43 percent of this waste — more than restaurants, grocery stores or any other single part of the supply chain. It’s a problem that costs the average family of four at least $1,500 per year. If we could redirect just one-third of the food that we now toss to people in need, it could feed 50 million people, far more than the unmet food needs across the country. Wasted food also squanders 21 percent of the water used by the U.S. agricultural industry, generates climate change pollution equivalent to 37 million cars per year, and accounts for 21 percent of the material that goes into landfills.

“People increasingly recognize that saving food saves money, saves water, and helps save the planet,” said JoAnne Berkenkamp, senior advocate in NRDC’s food and agriculture program. “Making even a few small changes in our daily lives can have a big impact. Together, we are building a better future for our children — and we’re starting right in our own kitchens.”

Chef Dan Barber Hand Delivers Meals from Scraps

For phase two of Save The Food, the groups produced a PSA with Dan Barber, renowned chef and co-owner of New York’s Blue Hill restaurant and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The video features the chef and his team surprising two foodies with hand-delivered delicious meals made from scraps that would otherwise never have been eaten.

"Food waste isn’t just an environmental issue, or a health issue, or an economic issue; it’s gastronomic too,” Barber said. “How do you find culinary opportunity in what’s left behind? That idea — deliciousness by way of resourcefulness — is at the core of every great cuisine. And it’s a powerful mechanism for change.”

Alexa “Save The Food” Skill

SapientRazorfish, the agency of record for the campaign, developed a new Save The Food Skill now available on Alexa devices. The skill educates consumers about simple ways to limit food waste in their own homes, from advice on smarter food storage to tips for evaluating whether something is still safe to eat, and tricks to revive food that’s past its prime.

Campaign Success to Date

Save The Food’s success to date has been closely tracked through a study commissioned by the Ad Council. Data shows awareness is growing nationwide, and particularly among the campaign’s target audiences: moms and millennials. It is also shows the campaign is sparking conversation and action around the issue.

Specifically, it shows:

  • Adults who recognized the PSAs more often said they sought information about ways to waste less food (59 percent) than those who did not recognize the PSAs (17 percent).
  • Adults who recognized the campaign’s PSAs more often said they discussed or shared info about wasting less food (64 percent) than those who did not recognize the PSAs (33 percent).
  • Approximately 54 percent of adults now strongly agree that food waste is a big problem in the United States – up from 51 percent prior to launch.
  • Recognition of the PSA among moms grew from 20 percent in April 2016 to 24 percent in March 2017.
  • Among millennials recognition is up from 31 percent in April 2016 to 36 percent by March 2017.

“Our first year of ‘Save The Food’ really took off, and we’re excited for the increased momentum that phase two will bring,” said Ad Council President and CEO Lisa Sherman. “It’s a message that everyone, from eco-conscious foodies to budget-conscious parents, can love and learn from.”

As part of the phase two launch, Save The Food is also partnering with digital content creators, including actress and creator Alyson Stoner, and Nora Masour and Ani Esmalian from the channel Modamob, who will serve as ambassadors for the campaign and extend campaign messaging. Each creator will kick off the partnership with a new video on their channels discussing the importance of reducing food waste and encourage followers to do the same.


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