Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!
On average, we waste one full meals worth of food ever 2.3 days. In a state in which many people are food insecure, discarded edible food is a substantial waste. Food waste is also financially wasteful and uneaten food – especially meat – contributes to a larger carbon footprint. Luckily, Salt Lake City based nonprofit Waste Less Solutions is working to solve the food waste problem. Founder and President Dana Williamson started Waste Less Solutions in 2017 in an effort to reduce food waste in our community. The food rescue program works to divert edible food from donors in the food industry to individuals experiencing food insecurity with the help of receiving agencies including the YWCA, Rescue Mission, and the Boys & Girls Club. To date, Waste Less Solutions has saved 339,048 pounds of food, serving 282,540 meals to underfed community members, and saving $586,533 worth of food.
Thanksgiving this year will be different as we all work together to keep our community safe. We reduce risk of spreading the COVID-19, and invent creative ways to keep connected to our families virtually while still being able to share in the traditional Thanksgiving traditions. As we all work through reimagining the holiday, the city’s Resident Equity Advisors are hard at work making sure everyone in our community – families, elderly, children, and all individuals suffering from food hardship have access to a healthy, nutritious food.
One in nine Utahns struggles with hunger, and equitable food access is still a major concern in our community. This year, we’re taking time to reflect on our connections with food. Food is a basic human right and is on of the foundational pieces of community resilience and SLCgreen’s focus areas. Our department launched the Resident Food Equity Advisors program to engage our vulnerable communities and empower them through shared decision making.
Read on to find out more about what these advisors have been working on!
Community gardens provide Salt Lake City with fresh, locally grown food and a vibrant space to connect with our neighbors. Salt Lake City’s community gardens are popular locations for everything from volunteering to learning about urban farming. Indeed, in conjunction with Wasatch Community Gardens (WCG), Salt Lake City has successfully developed seven community gardens in almost every corner of the city through our Green City Growers program.
These gardens include the Off Broadway Community Garden, Liberty Wells, Rose Park, Cannon Greens, 9-Line, Popperton Plots, and the Gateway Garden. Not only do these gardens support Salt Lake City’s dedication to increase local food production, they invigorate our neighborhoods by putting vacant lots to use in ways that support community engagement and biodiversity — all while limiting our communities’ carbon footprints.
Salt Lake City’s community gardens activate our neighborhoods, giving residents a space to engage with friends and neighbors and to grow fresh produce. And we just can’t get enough of them!
In order to continue to make community gardens accessible and ensure that locally grown food stays a priority, both Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County have proposed new community gardens to be built in 2020.
But the City, County, and WCG can’t do it alone. We need a strong show of support from nearby residents, indicating that the gardens will receive enough use.
Salt Lake City is working with WCG to establish Richmond Park Community Garden. Similarly, Salt Lake County and WCG are collaborating on a new garden in Sugar House Park. You can read more about the gardens below. If you would be interested in gardening at either of these parks, sign the petitions below to show your support.
Salt Lake City highlighted Richmond Park for a potential garden. The park, which already has a fantastic playground, is nestled between 500 and 400 East along 600 South in downtown Salt Lake City.
The program has been providing in-depth education about recycling, composting, and solid waste management to Salt Lake community members since 2015. It gives participants a behind-the-scenes look at Salt Lake City’s waste management system from bin to recycling plant.
Our mission is “to create a network of champions who are trained in waste reduction strategies and are able to assist with outreach and engagement in the Salt Lake City community.”
By learning from outreach experts and visiting waste management facilities, Master Recyclers are empowered to educate their own communities about all aspects of waste reduction.
University of Utah President David Pershing, Mayor J. Biskupski, and Utah Clean Energy Executive Director Sarah Wright
Mayor Biskupski trying out new 2016 EV models.
Mayor J. Biskupski launches U Drive Electric Program
In a joint press conference, the University of Utah and Salt Lake City today announced the launch of an electric vehicle purchase program extending discounts on multiple makes and models of vehicles. The second round of U Drive Electric offers U community members and Salt Lake City community members the opportunity to purchase or lease electric and plug-in-hybrid vehicles at discounted prices through Oct. 31, 2016.
This joint program is aimed at improving air quality and community health both today and for future generations. With almost 50 percent of Utah’s urban air pollution coming from tailpipe emissions, electric vehicles represent an important tool for improving air quality along the Wasatch Front. Read more
Mayor Jackie Biskupski commemorated the first season of the new Liberty Wells Community Garden on 1700 South and 700 East in a press conference with Wasatch Community Gardens and local gardeners on Tuesday, August 30th.
As the latest addition to Salt Lake City’s Green City Growers program, the Liberty Wells Garden is run by the non-profit Wasatch Community Gardens on city-owned land and provides plots for 44 gardeners to grow vegetables.
“Liberty Wells neighbors, including some of our newest resident refugee families, have come together to share knowledge and friendship, which produced this beautiful and sustainable garden,” Mayor Biskupski said. “We have put vacant land to good use while improving the community and good will at the same time.”
The Liberty Wells Garden broke ground in April, after site selection and approval from the city. The plot now has 44 gardeners, with a wait list of 29.
“We’ve been amazed to see the enthusiasm and positive energy put forth by the gardeners who make up our new Liberty Wells Community Garden,” said Ashley Patterson, Executive Director of Wasatch Community Gardens.
Britt Vanderhoof spends hours at the Liberty Wells garden each week. “As an avid gardener, I’ve enjoyed the health benefits of eating fresh, organic, locally grown food. But as much as I love the taste of food fresh from the garden, I have enjoyed even more seeing the community around the Liberty Wells Community Garden come together to help grow this amazing garden into what it is today.”
Salt Lake City, along with local government partners Park City and Summit County, is exploring creative new pathways towards securing more clean energy for the community.
The SLC City Council and elected officials from the other two communities recently adopted an Interlocal Agreement that commits the municipalities to collaborate and jointly fund a feasibility study. The study will evaluate renewable energy options, impacts, and opportunities to create a cleaner electricity supply for the long-term.
More clean energy on the way!
The Interlocal Agreement reiterated what many of us already know–that energy choices have a notable impact on public health, including the economic and social well-being of current and future residents. The Agreement also noted that Utah has an abundant supply of solar energy, being one of the 10 sunniest states in the U.S., and that a recent report from The Solar Foundation revealed that there are already over 2,500 solar jobs in Utah.
The communities are jointly seeking a firm to provide technical assistance and a feasibility report this year. Summit County has published a Request for Proposals. Results of the study could be available as early as late 2016.
Transitioning to renewable energy is essential for the City to meet its climate and air quality goals. Emissions from electricity generation create over 50 percent of the Salt Lake City community carbon footprint and over 75 percent of the carbon pollution from local government operations.
Mayor Biskupski recently set a goal of 100 percent renewable energy for electricity used in government operations by 2032. This new partnership with Park City and Summit County includes an expanded scope to help us get there. As a whole, the study will evaluate clean energy options for the entire community, including all homes and businesses.
Today Salt Lake City launches a new partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF) to become one of the organization’s first cohort of Bright Cities. The Bright Cities program is designed specifically to help reduce or eliminate neurotoxic chemical exposures in children when they are most vulnerable.
Exposure to toxic chemicals is so widespread and the impacts on brain development are so severe that leading scientists and doctors call it “a silent epidemic.” When exposure to neurotoxic or “brain drain” chemicals is higher, so are incidences of ADHD, behavioral problems, cognitive delays, and low birth weight.
Studies also show that disproportionately high exposure to these chemicals is one important reason why children below the poverty line are more likely to have intellectual disabilities. While toxic chemicals are not the sole cause for these lifelong effects, they are among the most preventable.
“Through our partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures, Salt Lake City is making a commitment to improve the health of our children and our entire community,” says Mayor Jackie Biskupski. “The positive steps we take today to protect our children will last a lifetime and ensure a healthier and brighter future for all.”
Today Salt Lake City will begin phase one of the program, called the Beacon City phase. With support from HBBF, the City will complete an assessment of the current risks, priorities and opportunities related to neurotoxic chemical exposures. The City will also engage in a public process to educate the community and gather stakeholder input on a final plan to reduce or eliminate the impact of these dangerous chemicals on babies’ brains.
For more information on Salt Lake City’s involvement contact Bridget Stuchly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 535-6438.
Healthy Babies Bright Futures is an alliance of non-profit organizations, philanthropies and scientists that designs and implements projects to reduce babies’ exposure to toxic chemicals during the most vulnerable and significant periods of development: in utero and from birth to age two. M.ore information at https://hbbf.org/
Today the American Lung Association released its 17th annual State of the Air report, which ranks the air quality in our nation’s cities and counties. Salt Lake City, Provo and Orem ranked 6th for short-term particulate exposure.
Mayor Biskupski has announced an aggressive air quality platform that aims to drastically reduce pollution through improving energy efficiency in buildings, increasing use of renewable energy like solar, sourcing cleaner vehicles, and creating a robust clean air network focused on advancing clean air legislation.
Join the City of Salt Lake and do your part to reduce pollution!
Take action even on voluntary air days.This is when we have the best chance to keep our air cleaner, longer – especially when we know that an inversion has set up in the valley.
Skip and reduce trips.
Aim to leave your car parked, one more day a week. Modern vehicles emit the vast majority of trip pollution in those first two minutes on the road. Skipping car trips by using public transportation, arranging a carpool or other alternatives make a measurable impact.
On days you must drive, chain your trips together to reduce “cold start” pollution.
Explore Salt Lake City on public transit.Ride UTA can help you plan your next transit adventure.
Weatherize your home, and cash in on Rocky Mountain Power and Questar Adding insulation and upgrading your windows will not only save you money on your utility bills, it will keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
Upgrade your furnace and water heater. Rebates are available for residents who upgrade their furnace and water heaters. Water heaters are a significant source of NOx emissions and that adds to Utah’s wintertime PM 2.5, problem.
Swap out your lightbulbs to LEDs. By replacing your home’s five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with ENERGY STAR rating, you can save $75 each year.
Opt for people powered or electric tools for yard work.
Get exercise while doing yard work by using push mowers instead of gas powered lawn mowers. According to the U.S. EPA, a new gas lawn mower produces as many VOCs and NOx emissions in in in one hour as 11 new cars.
Not able to use a push mower or manual tools? Look for electric alternatives to mowers, leaf blowers and weed whackers.