It is Easy Being Green

energy-star-bulb.JPGIf you were on the operations team at the Community Food Bank, you probably would spend a lot of time thinking about how you could do something cheaper, quicker, better…or, greener.

CFB is not new to green. Long before the community demonstration garden began greening the landscape, Joy Tucker was installing compact fluorescent light bulbs when they first came on the market. “When you have 600 light bulbs to replace, you can save a lot of money and significantly shrink your carbon footprint. On average we save about $30 per bulb over its lifetime while keeping tons of C02 out of the atmosphere,” says Joy. Total savings are $18,000 over the life of the bulbs!

According to the United States Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, “If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than three million homes for a year, save more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.”

The most recent initiative undertaken by CFB is its new recycling program. In the main warehouse, Brenda Nicholls-Moore is proud of the latest innovation she helped create in the Emergency Food Box area: EFB recycles 1,000 lbs of plastic bags and shrink wrap each month that previously went into our landfill. “I would just look at it going into the trash and want to cry,” Brenda recalled. “My husband David works at Bashas’ and I learned they recycle their plastic in Phoenix since Tucson doesn’t recycle it.” CFB worked out a partnership with Bashas’ Customer Service Manager Nick Rodriguez and Store Director Troy Decons where they take our plastic waste to recycle with theirs. Now CFB’s drivers simply drop off the plastic for recycling when they go to pick-up food donations from Bashas’. This partnership will prevent an estimated six tons of plastic packaging from ending up in local landfills every year. This is in addition to all of the cardboard, paper, cans, plastic bottles and pallets we were already recycling.

Reading the list above, you would imagine that it includes everything we can possibly recycle—but there’s more. We also recycle food. Not everything that is donated to CFB can be distributed to our clients. Food that is past its Sell By date, bread that is beyond stale and many other damaged items come through our doors. These items are not fit for human consumption but are enjoyed by farm animals such as pigs and chickens. We even supply our recycled food to an animal shelter in Marana.

Another green initiative at CFB and aid to our farmers is our free compost. Amanda Morse, garden coordinator, makes it available for our home gardeners, as well. Thanks to her cohort of organically fed chickens, coffee grounds from Java Edge, spent grain from Nimbus Brewery, garden weeds and waste—we are able to make incredibly rich, natural compost.

Presbyterian intern Phil Sigmon, with the help of the Peace Volunteers (middle and high school youth), just finished a berming project to direct rainwater (next time it rains…ahem…) to a native tree. In fact, the entire landscape at the food bank is low water use, from drip irrigation, water harvesting and mulching in the garden, to low water use trees (desert willow, mesquite, palo verde and acacia). Many of these trees were planted when we purchased the building in 1995.

These are among many, many green initiatives at CFB. We are proud to say that even our upcoming car raffle includes green cars, this newsletter is printed on recycled paper and cardboard boxes that come in with food donations are reused as emergency food boxes whenever possible. Do you have an idea that will help CFB in its effort to be green? Submit it to