Tag Archives: Environment

This Earth Day, Let’s Tackle Food Waste Together

By: Bureau of Environmental Health Services

When people think about Earth Day, some of the things that come to mind are recycling, planting trees, and reducing pollution.  Consider food safety and the reduction of food waste in this conversation. With 40% of all food in the United States being wasted every year, it is easy to see that this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.  These food habits lead to massive amounts of money wasted and environmental degradation – even though in South Carolina alone, 1 in 7 people, including 1 in 5 children, struggle with hunger according to Feeding America.  Fortunately, this is a challenge that can be addressed both individually and systemically.

You Can End Food Waste! It Starts at Home 

A couple of strategies for individual food waste management:

1).  Purchase only what you know you’re going to eat. When our refrigerators become overpacked, air is unable to properly circulate, and proper temperatures of less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit cannot be maintained. This results in food going bad and needing to be thrown out and energy being wasted through a constantly running refrigerator.  In case you need a good visual of the journey of bringing food to our tables, watch “The Extraordinary Life and Times of a Strawberry” put on by the Save the Food campaign and Ad Council.

2).  Regularly monitoring refrigerator temperature is an effective way to ensure your food isn’t going bad.

3).  Learn about date labels. Date labels, such as “best by” and “use by,” most often refer to quality. Even though a date label has been exceeded, a food product is not necessarily unsafe.

To find tips and tricks for storing and preparing your food visit:  https://savethefood.com/storage and https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/index.html.

4).  Practice portion control and keep your leftovers.  By doing this, you can end up reducing your “waist” with both your body and food.  Whether you are eating out at a restaurant or have over prepared a meal at home, have a storage container on hand to have a tasty snack later in the day or week.

5).  Donate! Food banks and local food drives are always looking for more items. Since roughly 25% of all food and beverages purchased by families in the United States end up in the trash, there is an abundance of food being wasted that could be used to feed those in need. To learn more about where to donate food, you can visit: https://feedingthecarolinas.org/.

For additional tips on how to reduce your food waste at home, DHEC’s Guide for Reducing Food Waste at Home is an amazing resource!

Addressing the Systemic Causes of Food Waste

As a community, the most effective way to make sure food waste stops before it starts is to support local and national food waste reduction initiatives. There are no national regulations directing consistent food date labeling.  With 17% of restaurant meals going uneaten and 55% of leftovers not even being taken home, oversized portions are serious contributors to food waste and any comprehensive food waste program should take this into consideration. If your household or business is interested in addressing the issue of food waste, consider becoming a Don’t Waste Food SC Food Ambassador. DHEC has created a toolkit to get you started.

Do Your Part This Earth Day

Failure to manage food waste can lead to increased pollution.  Food waste ends up in landfills and food decomposition adds to the pollution generated at those sites.  Municipal solid waste landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the United States according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  You can help decrease those emissions by turning wasted food into compost or donating it to local food banks, food rescue organizations, and other non-profits.  This Earth Day do your part to reduce your personal food waste and spread the word about this increasingly important issue. Not only will you help protect the Earth that all of us share, you will save some money while you do it! For more information on how you can help tackle the problem of food waste, you can visit Don’t Waste Food SC!

 

DHEC Presents 2018 Community Star Awards to Santee Cooper, Brandon Burke

DHEC’s Office of Environmental Affairs recently presented Community Star Awards to the 2018 award winners. Awarded annually, Community Star recognizes a business, community organization, collaborative partnership, or individual in South Carolina that is going above and beyond environmental requirements to build better community relationships, promote environmental sustainability and resiliency, and/or improve quality of life for communities.

Santee Cooper was awarded the Business Community Star for their strong community presence and a proven track record of environmental excellence. They have several initiatives that have involved the community including the Camp Hall Commerce Park, the Give Oil for Energy Recovery (GOFER) project, and several educational initiatives. Santee Cooper engages citizens and communities throughout the state to promote environmental stewardship and sustainability.

Brandon Burke, a former restaurant general manager in the Charleston area, was awarded the Rising Star Community Star Award for his work with families in the surrounding community who were faced with children with cancer.  All of these efforts were taking place while his own son was battling cancer.

Brandon Burke

Join us in congratulating both of these well deserving recipients.

Community Star nomination period opens May 1. For more information, visit https://www.scdhec.gov/environment/community-star.

From Other Blogs: The dangers of carbon monoxide, staying fit, tracking Radon

 A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs.

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

According to the American Red Cross, more than 15,200 people go to hospital emergency rooms each year to be treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

And, approximately 400 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. — From Lexington Medical Center’s official blog

Fitting in fitness throughout your busy day

Finding time for exercise can be a challenge. Ideally, we should be getting 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week. But how can you squeeze that into your already busy day? — From Flourish, Palmetto Health’s blog

Radon: We Track That!

CDC’s Tracking Network connects people with vital information on a variety of health and environmental topics. Learn how radon data and information help determine individual and community risk for radon and inform community interventions. — The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Your Health – Your Environment blog

Pollution Prevention Week

Over the past few years, the third week of September has come to be known as Pollution Prevention (P2) Week. P2 Week (September 17-23) is a time for businesses, governments, and individuals to focus on preventing pollution, celebrating achievements, improving existing pollution prevention practices, and initiating new ones. You, too, can play a part in conserving our planet’s resources and moving us toward sustainability.

Here are some things you can do at HOME to help prevent pollution:

  • Conserve energy by turning off lights and electric appliances when not in use. Use energy-efficient light bulbs and buy Energy Star appliances.
  • Use environmentally-friendly cleaners and seal all containers to prevent harmful chemicals from evaporating into the environment.
  • Use electric-powered lawn equipment and bag yard clippings at the beginning of seed growing season to prevent them from being dispersed.
  • Reduce waste by reusing containers, composting food scraps, canceling unsolicited junk mail, and buying goods that use minimal packaging.

Here are some things you can do at WORK to help prevent pollution:

  • Form a Green Team. It is much easier to make your work place greener as a team.
  • Use your business’s intranet to educate employees on being green: Display a calendar with a focus on pollution prevention awareness events such as Earth Day, P2 Week, special recycle and paper shred days and bike-to-work day.
  • Promote recycling at work and make it easier to recycle by having an area where people can leave unwanted items that can be reused or repurposed.
  • When replacing office products (computers, faxes, etc.), choose ENERGY STAR-certified products.

Here are some things you can do at PLAY to help prevent pollution:

  • Use public transportation, walk, or ride a bike whenever possible to get to your destination.
  • Be car care aware; keeping your car in good condition can help reduce carbon emissions.
  • When on vacation, take your own toiletries and reuse towels to reduce energy usage and hot water consumption.
  • Use electronic tickets when traveling by saving or downloading the documents to your mobile devices.

For more information about Pollution Prevention week and how you can help prevent and reduce pollution, browse the South Carolina Smart Business Recycling Guide or go to https://www.epa.gov/p2.

DHEC to Host 2018 Environmental Assistance Conference

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Office of Environmental Affairs is excited to announce the 2018 Environmental Assistance Conference – Compliance Assistance and Customer Service: DHEC and Industry Working Together.  The agenda will include regulatory compliance and permitting topics such as hazardous waste, dams, stormwater, air quality, solid waste and legislative updates.

Additionally, the conference will again have an “Exhibitor Showcase” featuring up to 30 businesses and organizations as well as DHEC staff to answer any technical or permitting questions.

The conference will be held on November 7, 2018, at the Columbia Conference Center in Columbia. You don’t want to miss this event!

Registration is currently open:

Registrations for both attendees and exhibitors is on a first come, first serve basis. Space is available for 30 exhibitors and approximately 250 attendees. The exhibitor fee is $250 per table and includes registration for two attendees. The attendee fee is $55 per person. All registrations include access to the exhibitor room, all presentations, a light breakfast, lunch, and breaks.

For conference updates and to register for the conference, please visit our website at www.scdhec.gov/environment/eac.  Questions about the conference or registration can be directed to Rebecca Sproles at sprolemr@dhec.sc.gov or 803-898-3139.