In Central Ohio, much less wasted food is going to the landfill, thanks to a public awareness campaign that focuses on household wallets and schools. In 2021, 51% of the region’s waste was diverted through recycling and composting. The Solid Waste Authority of Central Ohio campaign began with collecting data from residents of Upper Arlington, both through household surveys and garbage cans. SWACO then used targeted social media posts, email newsletters and postcards to tell residents that the average central Ohio family spends $1,500 a year on food they don’t eat and 22 million gallons of gas is used annually to transport discarded food. Three months later, respondents reported wasting 23% less food. After Hilliard City Schools district got a $25,000 composting grant, its 14 elementary schools cut trash pickups by 30% and recycling pickups by 50%, saving the district $22,000.

[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story inaccurately reported that the region diverted a million tons of food a day.]

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