Waste Reduction

How to Reduce Wasted Food & Save Money

Be Smart From The Start
  • > Design a meal plan for the week utilizing foods and ingredients you already have.
  • > Prepare a grocery list ahead of time at home and stick to it when shopping. Never shop when you are hungry, as it can lead to impulse buying and wasted food.
  • woman in a grocery stores checking off items from a list
  • > Reorganize your refrigerator and pantry with the most perishable items placed front and center.
  • > Save money by buying locally-grown foods and imperfect-ugly produce items.
Keep Foods Fresh
  • > Use airtight containers to keep foods from spoiling too quickly.
  • Brussel Sprouts and other vegetables in glass storage containers
  • > Place carrots in water and wrap lettuce in a damp cloth to keep them fresh for longer.
  • > Freeze leftover bits of fruits and vegetables for blending into smoothies.
  • > Prepare food for storage by cutting them up and placing them in serving size containers for easy snacking and cooking access.
  • > For more information on how to keep foods from spoiling and safe to eat, visit FoodSafety.gov and SaveTheFood.com.

Kick-Start Your Zero Waste Routine

  • > Store your reusable shopping bags in your car, so you’ll have them with you every time you shop.
  • > Minimize your purchase of “ready to eat” foods that only come in non-recyclable packaging.
  • > Avoid using plastic bags from the store’s produce section by placing fruits in vegetables in your own reusable produce bags.

mesh bag filled with oranges

  • > Eliminate buying costly paper towels and instead use washable hand towels or rags when cleaning up.
  • > Put a stop to your mailbox overfilling with junk mail by removing your name from mailing distribution lists.
  • > Share magazines that you’ve already read with friends or donate them to school teachers for art projects.
  • > Donate unwanted clothing, household goods, and furniture to local charities.

blue plastic tub filled with fold clothes ready for donation

  • > Consider refurbish a piece of furniture before going out to buy new items. Odds are there’s a YouTube video on how to restore it.
  • > Take a recycling refresher and revisit the list of accepted materials of what can and can’t be recycled your home and work.

cover page of quick print list of recyclables


  • > Inventory recyclables that are making their way into your trash and start recycling those materials from now on.
  • > Stop putting non-accepted items in your recycling bins, as these contaminants lower the value and marketability of the accepted recyclables.
  • > No need to buy small plastic trash bags. Instead, try using alternatives, such as empty large-sized cereal bags for lining small wastebaskets.
  • > Make your own travel-size containers. For example, reuse contact lens cases to carry around small amounts of hand lotion.

green contact lens case

  • > Help to “close the loop” by purchasing products made with recycled content whenever possible. For example, a least one brand of toilet paper made for recycled paper is available at most shopping stores.
  • > Looked for the words “Made from Recycled Paper” when buying paper for your printer.

Made from 100 percent recycled materials logo

  • > When eating out or ordering take-out, ask for items you don’t want to be left off your plate.
  • > Start composting your food scraps in your own home backyard compost pile.

lady emptying food scraps into a backyard compost bin

Helpful Waste Reduction Links

EPA - Reducing Waste: What You Can Do
Zero Waste Home
Recycle Now
Green Education Foundation