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  • Reduce your personal food waste through smarter meal planning and waste-free cooking practices. Try out the tips at
  • Build or buy a compost bin for your food scraps. Each ton of food waste diverted from the landfill results in 17.5 metric tons of avoided Co2 emissions. This is the same as taking 45 cars off the road. You can get bins from the City of Santa Barbara and the County of Santa Barbara
  • Grow a garden and plant some trees. While a carbon-rich atmosphere leads to global warming, carbon-rich soil leads to healthier plants and people. In some cases, carbon sequestration (when carbon that was living in the air is pulled down to live instead in the soil) in home gardens is as good as or better than that of unmanaged natural forests. The carbon footprints of 18 average Americans can be neutralized by one acre of hardwood trees in home gardens. A list of carbon-sinking trees can be seen here.


If you are going to think about climate, than you have to examine our food system. Growing and transporting food is highly fossil fuel intensive. Alarmingly, 40% of all food produced in the U.S. is never eaten, with most of that loss happening on the consumer end. Waste is doubly challenging for our environment: First, you lose the water and energy it took to grow or produce that item. Second, when organic waste ends up in the landfill, it becomes methane – a potent greenhouse gas that is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. We must rethink how we approach food through all four phases: production, distribution, consumption, and disposal.


Here are some of the specific actions CEC is taking. We invite you to learn more and get involved.

(Entire Food System) Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan
CEC has partnered with Santa Barbara County Foodbank and the Santa Barbara Foundation to begin the Community Capacity Building phase of the Food Action Plan. The Food Action Plan creates a strategy-based community “blueprint” for a thriving, accessible, and sustainable food system. The Community Capacity Building phase focuses on implementation of goals and strategies outlined in the plan. With this upcoming phase, we will be working with agencies and partners county-wide to put the plan into action. Learn more about the Santa Barbara County Food Action Plan by clicking here or visiting

(Production) Carbon Farming in the Central Coast Region
CEC, the Cachuma Resource Conservation District and other partners have identified the potential for significant sequestering of atmospheric C02 in the soil by employing “carbon farming” techniques in Santa Barbara County. Right now, we’re actively working on a pilot project on a ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley that looks at the potential to sequester carbon using compost application. Besides carbon sequestration, compost application on rangelands has been shown to increase forage productivity, decrease soil erosion, and increase water holding capacity of the soil.

Ultimately our big bold idea is to offset the greenhouse gas emissions coming from the county’s agricultural sector by applying carbon farming techniques to as little as 15% of the privately held rangelands in our county. At the same time, this will help the agricultural sector develop healthy soils and become more resilient in the face of a changing climate.

(Disposal) Food Waste Reduction
As part of our work on the Food Action Plan, CEC held a Food Waste Roundtable, inviting stakeholders from various sectors to have a dialogue about food waste and its impact on our society. See our slideshow from this event.

This discussion and other research into food waste compelled us to publish our latest white paper, Rebalancing the Food Waste Equation: A Case Study for Santa Barbara, which investigates causes and solutions to the large amount of food wasted in our county.

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