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Beaverton's 'Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge' program honored

In Beaverton, 61 percent of those contacted agreed to participate

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Shaunna Sutcliffe-Shadle, residential and schools coordinator at City of Gresham (left to right), Elizabeth Cole, recycling program coordinator at City of Beaverton, and Brian Stafki, senior program educator with Washington County Solid Waste & Recycling Program were honored for their work with the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge.The Association of Oregon Recyclers awarded its Recycler of the Year award in the education and promotion program category to the 'Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge.' Washington County and the cities of Beaverton and Gresham partnered to bring the challenge to the public, eventually reaching more than 2,500 people throughout the 14-month campaign. Overall, nearly 32 percent of those reached pledged to waste less food through the challenge, and in Beaverton, 61 percent made the pledge.

"Food waste is a big problem," said Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle. "Programs like this help people really stop and think about how much food they dispose of and how they can shop smarter. It saves time, money and energy in the long run."

Food makes up 30 percent of household garbage that ends up in landfills. The average U.S. household throws away 20 percent of all food they purchase. For a family of four, that adds up to the equivalent value of $1,500 a year. Natural resources are wasted too, with 25 percent of U.S. freshwater supplies going to produce food that is wasted.

"The Association of Recyclers felt that the education program used a lot of creativity to promote a new topic we hadn't seen much of before in our state," said Amy Roth, AOR resource director. "We were impressed by the overall environmental benefits, level of commitment, innovation, economic benefits and transferability of the program to other parts of the state. We were very impressed by the regional nature of the campaign, too."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency have called for Americans to cut food waste in half by 2030 — the nation's first food waste reduction goal. The Natural Resources Defense Council has also teamed up with the Ad Council to run a Smokey Bear-style advertising campaign over the next few years called "Save the Food."

The next step for the Eat Smart, Waste Less Challenge campaign is an updated website, tools in Spanish and new partners, including Clackamas County.

For more information, visit EatSmartWasteLess.com. For reminders and community news, visit BeavertonOregon.gov.