Fun With Food Waste

On Saturday, Angie and I attended the 3rd annual Nashville VegFest. The event has come a long way since we first wove our way through a massive crowd of vegans all vying to ogle an assortment of booths at Vanderbilt University a few years ago. Come to think of it, so have we. Back then we were just as confused about what a “vegfest” was as we were about our own eating habits. We thought it was a festival celebrating vegetables. Though not entirely incorrect, VegFest actually celebrates plant-based eating (almost exclusively veganism). Though we’re not vegans, we do enjoy a mostly meat-free diet and we found the festival to be a wonderful experience.

VegFest Selfie!

Now held at the Nashville Fairgrounds, VegFest has grown tremendously in just a short time. It was still crowded but we were able to see and sample of lot of new items we’d never even heard of before – like CORE + RIND Cashew Cheese Sauce. (A funny side note – when I was trying to tell my mom about this product over the phone, she somehow heard me to say Keith Austin Cheese Sauce. Sorry CORE + RIND, but from now on, your yummy jar of goodness will always be Keith Austin Cheese Sauce at our house.)

Where there is mass sampling of food products, there’s inevitably going to be food waste. Sadly, not everything was good and not everyone liked it. Even I had a brief moment of contemplation over my No Evil Foods “pulled pork” sandwich. While it was good, it was way too big. With some cheering from Angie, I managed to finish it though (and sadly, was too full afterwards to have the gelato I was so looking forward to!).

My giant vegan “pulled pork” sandwich.

But back to the food waste…

Me, playing in the trash, as usual.

VegFest was on our calendar anyway but when an email from Beadle at Compost Nashville arrived a few weeks ago asking for volunteers to assist festival goers in sorting their trash, we jumped at the opportunity. Sure there was the added incentive of free admission, free parking, and a free t-shirt, but really, we did it for the food waste. It’s one thing to sit back and complain because festivals and community events generate huge amounts of food waste. It’s an entirely different thing to actually do something about it. This time, we got to play an active role in reducing food waste. Donning our sporty new t-shirts, emblazoned with the words: Grow Food, Not Landfills, Angie and I each manned a trash station. I can’t speak for Angie (who is super shy in public), but I had a blast talking to people and helping them sort their food scraps and recycling into the proper bins.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! I truly felt like we were making a difference that day. We were turning the goals of our 2018 Food Waste Project into actions. We were helping others fill compost bins rather than landfills – stopping waste from happening in the first place. And one day, in the not-so-distant future, a Compost Nashville customer will receive the soil from our efforts to go in their own garden. That fact alone made the experience simply awesome!

Food Waste Update

Still no access to the dumpster. I can’t say enough how glad we will be when construction is completed next door. I shudder to think of all the good food that’s gone to waste simply because we, and other rescuers, can’t get to it. 

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 50 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:   0 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  185.69 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.


February Progress to Goals

Our overall goal for the year is to live on 50% of our income. To help us reach this goal, we chose a different money-saving focus for every month of the year, with each month’s focus building on the month prior. In January we cut grocery spending. For February, we concentrated on saving money by being more self-reliant, making and/or doing more things for ourselves.

Here’s how things went:

  • Our grocery spending remained roughly the same but our household spending was up in February. We purchased a used freezer on Craigslist ($50), seeds for our garden from Baker Heirloom Seeds ($28.50), and other gardening supplies, including a wheelbarrow, garden hose, and gloves ($77.77).
  • We took our first mini-trip of the year to the Great Smoky Mountains. Total cost for 3 nights lodging, meals, transportation, and entertainment was $342.26.
  • We achieved almost a zero-sum budget this month, carrying over only $22.78 in cash. Every other dollar in the budget had a name and a purpose.
  • We saved 45% of our income, allocated 7% to travel, and lived off of the remaining 48%.

February Expenses

**February was also an atypical month for us. We received a tax refund, which was counted as income.

On the DIY front:

  • We got reacquainted with homemade household cleaners and even added a new one to our repertoire: daily shower spray.
  • We started cutting our own hair again.
  • I helped Angie create a better home gym and we started taking more walks.
  • I mounted a small 18W 14V solar charging panel in our bedroom window to attempt to charge our cell phones, Kindles, and laptops during peak sunshine. This project is a work in progress but overall, it seems promising. I was able to charge my phone by 20% yesterday. (We bought this charger a year ago to use while camping and have never had it out of the box.)

solar charger

  • We reconnected with recycling. In addition to the new indoor compost bin, we set up new stations for general recycling and found a place to take them in our community. We even got my mom started on composting.
  • We broke ground on the new garden – an 8′ x 8′ plot that will hopefully grow enough veggies to provide for 3 people this summer.


One of my other projects for this month was to rearrange our kitchen area to make it more user-friendly and less cluttered. Though I managed to collect a few things from the kitchen to go in our upcoming “decluttering for cash” pile, the vast majority of items in my way were things that we use every day. I just didn’t like the way I had them arranged. To fix the problem, I brought out a few underutilized storage drawers from the closet and reorganized the pantry shelf for easier access to our most used items – like tea bags, seasonings, and freezer bags. I also relocated the microwave (which we decided to keep until it dies and then not replace). The top shelf is serving as a temporary home to our garden seedlings. So far this configuration seems to be working better.