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Spare Change: Campaign Underway to Urge Trader Joe's to Stop Wasting Food

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Shopping at Trader Joe's in Hollywood (Photo by Peggy Archer via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Los Angeles-based director Jeremy Seifert has launched a campaign via change.org to gather signatures of concerned consumers who want to let Monrovia-based grocer Trader Joe's to quit wasting so much food.

Seifert is the man behind a documentary called Dive!, which focuses on food waste. His change.org campaign aims to "tell Trader Joe's to stop wasting their food, donate soon-to-expire products, and implement a company-wide zero food waste policy," explains Treehugger.

In life, as in his documentary, Seifert feeds himself and his family by dumpster diving. He discusses his lifestyle and the movement he hopes to inspire in a post published this week on Triple Pundit:

Grocery stores dumping their goods provide me with a free lunch, and the film was certainly a fun project. But the documentary showcases a huge problem—food waste. Every year in the United States, we throw away 96 billion pounds of food. That’s 263 million pounds a day, 11 million pounds an hour, 3,000 pounds per second!
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"[T]hink of how many hungry people could have benefited from that food if Trader Joe’s donated it instead of throwing it away," laments Seifert. As a result of his experience, his campaign "asks Trader Joe’s to adopt a corporate-wide policy to end food waste in all of the company’s 350+ stores."

Trader Joe's, however, is one of the better guys in the grocery chain biz when it comes to food waste, and that happens to be why Seifert is focusing on them. "It seems appropriate to start with a company that people assume is already doing the right thing," explains the director. "Some individual Trader Joe's stores already donate their soon-to-expire food to homeless shelters, food pantries, and other hunger relief organizations," notes Treehugger.

Seifert sees Trader Joe's as having a "leadership role," and that if they make a powerful policy adoption when it comes to waste, ideally other big chains in Los Angeles and their counterparts around the nation, like Whole Foods, Vons, and Ralphs, will follow suit.

So far over 31,000 people have signed the petition. Earlier this year, a group of teens from Pasadena's Polytechnic High mounted a letter-writing campaign to Trader Joe's about their food waste policy. "In response, Matt Sloan, Trader Joe’s VP of marketing, paid the class a visit. While the students were grateful for the opportunity to speak with Sloan, they were ultimately disappointed by his reaction to their concerns," notes the Sierra Club. Hopefully Seifert's efforts will net him a more satisfying result.