GOOD

Here in the United States, we have a peculiar relationship with food waste. Some of the more progressive cities in the U.S. have formalized curbside collection programs, while others send it off to landfills. The cost of dumping food waste in landfills is high, especially to densely populated areas like New York City. That’s why earlier this year, New York proposed introducing curbside collection of organic waste.

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Rags to Revenue: Creating New Startups From Textile Waste

Every year, around 13 million tons of clothes, shoes, sheets, and other textiles end up in U.S. landfills. Your old t-shirt isn't just taking up...

Every year, around 13 million tons of clothes, shoes, sheets, and other textiles end up in U.S. landfills. Your old t-shirt isn't just taking up space at the dump, it's also releasing methane—a greenhouse gas 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide. In San Francisco, where the city is on a mission to achieve zero waste by 2020, textile waste is still a problem. But the City of San Francisco hopes that citizens can help solve it—while creating new local jobs at the same time.

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How We're Bringing Showers to the Homeless

One day two years ago, I happened to pass a young woman sitting on the street. She was crying and saying over and over to herself that she'd never be clean. I live in San Francisco, where it's impossible to be unaware of the homeless.

One day two years ago, I happened to pass a young woman sitting on the street. She was crying and saying over and over to herself that she’d never be clean. I live in San Francisco, where it’s impossible to be unaware of the homeless. For years, I’d wanted to do more than volunteer or donate to an organization. But it wasn’t until that day that I took action, inspired by the words of the young woman.

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This is an idea worth resurrecting. Culture Kitchen was a San Francisco start-up that didn't end up lasting, but could provide inspiration for another city. Started by two Stanford design grads in 2011, Culture Kitchen originally provided cooking classes taught by local immigrant women, sharing their own cultures' cuisine. Local food lovers could come to a class, learn an authentic recipe from another part of the world, and hear their teacher's personal story.

Later, the company shifted away from the original vision, and started shipping cooking kits from eight different regions of the world. It's the first idea, though, that seems most brilliant: immigrant women had a way to not only potentially earn a living, but to be valued for a high-level skill—their home cooking—rather than being forced into a typical low-wage job. They had the chance to connect with students on a personal level that probably wouldn't have happened otherwise. And the students had the unique chance to learn how to cook, say, Ukranian or Nicaraguan food the way it was meant to be made.

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What Do You Have in Common with a Low-Income Indian Mother? More Than You Think

Imagine this: You wake up early, as always, to prepare breakfast for your family. Wiping the sleep from your eyes you shuffle to the kitchen...

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Imagine this: You wake up early, as always, to prepare breakfast for your family. Wiping the sleep from your eyes you shuffle to the kitchen and light the stove—out comes billowing black smoke that immediately fills the room. Business as usual. You put on a pot of water to boil porridge. Your 3-year-old is now awake and comes over to watch you cook. They lean against soot-blackened walls and cough chronically as you continue cooking, learning how it’s done. You try to keep low, below the acrid smoke, as you feed the stove and stir the porridge, eyes watering. Breakfast should be ready soon, which is good because the rest of the family is waking up. As the porridge simmers, your mind turns to the day ahead—fetching wood, carrying water, going to market, preparing dinner… Overhead the coal-black thatch roof crouches over you, suspended on a pillow of smoke, but you pay it no mind. After all, it’s been that way since before you were born.
Smoke is known to be toxic. It kills young children around the world at a rate exceeded only by the drama and trauma of childbirth. The negative impact on adult heart disease and life expectancy from cooking in kitchens such as this is well documented. To those who understand the ramifications of breathing smoke and who, importantly, have exposure to other cooking methods, the harm is literally written on the soot-covered wall.
But that’s just the point. You, and the billions of other people who routinely cook their meals in this fashion, don’t know any other way. Your mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother all cooked like this. And even when you and your peers are informed as to the harm of your approach, you persist. It seems far-fetched to think that a pervasive and ancient cultural practice could be such a vicious killer. Besides, it’s what you know and are comfortable with—it’s what everyone does. So you continue, and the lungs of your family continue to fill with smoke.

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