The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation will initiate a first-of-its-kind food waste reduction project this spring. The campaign, titled “Nixyáawii, Don’t Throw it Away!” (pronounced “Nic-YAH-way”), will be the first coordinated food waste reduction effort the tribal government has initiated.

Through the initiative, which is partly funded with a $172,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the tribe’s Department of Natural Resources will look to calculate how much food waste the community generates. It will also develop resources and offer educational opportunities for the tribal community on how to reduce the amount of food that ends up in landfills.

The tribe will also install a small biodigester, which will use bacteria to break down organic material in the absence of air — referred to as an anaerobic environment — and turn it to methane for cooking and fertilizer for the tribe’s community garden. The U.S. EPA estimates each year gasses produced by food waste equal 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. A significant amount of methane and nitrous oxide also get into the atmosphere. Colleen Sanders, the climate adaptation planner for the tribe, said the initiative serves as a way to capture gas emissions generated by food, rather than let it go into the atmosphere.

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Author: Alejandro, 
Figueroa, OPB
Image: Annie Warren, CTUIR, OPB