Singer-Songwriter Jack Johnson Is Teaching Kids About Food and Food Waste

Most people know Jack Johnson as an acoustic singer-songwriter, but not many are aware that he is also an environmental activist. The Hawaiian-born musician is a champion of eco-friendly practices on his music tours, and he and his wife are founders of the Kokua Hawaii Foundation​, an environmental education nonprofit.


The foundation is currently working with Lanikai Elementary Public Carter School in Oahu to teach students about composting. Composting is a very promising solution to the growing international problem of food waste, but according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a low percentage of food waste is composted. Much of it ends up in landfills, where it produces large quantities of methane.

FAO also reports that home composting could divert up to 150 kilograms of food waste per household per year. This issue is especially salient for Hawaii because they import over 90 percent of their food and export most of their garbage. All food waste on the island of Oahu is currently burned, not composted. The soil on Oahu is incredibly acidic, so it could be much more productive with compost.

Johnson’s work with students through the Kokua Hawaii Foundation is helping bring about change in food waste management in Hawaii. He has also applied his philosophy to his touring practices to lessen the music industry’s environmental impact.

Sustainable America, in partnership with NationSwell, joined Johnson for a composting lesson at Lanikai Elementary, and they produced a mini-documentary. The video explores Lanikai’s participation in the foundation’s AINA In Schools program, which is named after the Hawaiian word for land. The program is intended to connect students to their local resources by teaching them about gardening, nutrition, and waste reduction.

The mini-documentary also highlights some of Johnson’s eco-friendly touring practices, which include using compost bins on tour buses, requiring venues to comply with his “environmentally-responsible rider,” and working with food recovery groups to donate leftover food.

To learn more about Johnson’s foundation, watch the documentary here.  

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