FOOD WASTE BEHAVIORS & POLICY
Meredith is a co-founder of the Recycling Organics and Resources (ROAR) group at the University of Vermont, a group of multidisciplinary scientists exploring the issue of sustainable materials management.
Our national research has focused on food at the household level, finding, in an article we published in PLOS ONE, that on average, Americans waste a pound of food per day. This waste has significant environmental impacts- for example the use of 4.2 trillion gallons of water annually to grow food that is wasted, and surprisingly, higher quality diets have higher rates of food waste. This work was covered extensively in national media.
More locally, Meredith has conducted a number of studies in Vermont exploring food waste behaviors and policies, in light of the upcoming implementation of Vermont's Universal Recycling Law (Act 148), which proposes to ban food from the waste stream by 2020. Most recently she examined Vermonter's perceptions of food waste, Act 148 and their strategies for combating food waste now and in the future. Major findings suggest that most Vermonters are already diverting their food waste from the landfill and that they are unwilling to pay more for food waste diversion programs in the future.
Through research with undergraduate students, Meredith has advised students to conduct original research exploring food waste in Vermont as well. One student examined the use of food waste diversion for compost production among off-campus students. Results of their research can be found here.
Another student has explored how Act 148, Vermont's Universal Recycling Law, is influencing the donation of food to food banks and pantries disproportionately throughout Vermont. The honors thesis of her work can be found here.