Waste Reduction

Reduce Wasted Food at Home

Planning, prepping and storing food can help your household waste less food. Here are some helpful tips:

Plan & Organize
  • > Plan out your meals for the week and stick to your shopping list, buying only the things needed for those meals.
  • > Check your refrigerator and pantry before going to the store; avoid buying food you already have.
  • > Keep your refrigerator organized by rotating new items to the back and items that need to be eaten soon to the front and center.
  • > Create an “eat me first” box or bowl to consume the most perishable items first.
Storage & Preparation
  • > Keep fruits that give off natural gases as they ripen (bananas,apples, tomatoes) in a different bin than other fruits and vegetables.
  • > Preserve fresh foods and leftovers by putting them in the freezer. Bread, meats, sliced fruit and abundant seasonal produce can all be frozen.
  • > Wait to wash berries until you are ready to eat them to prevent them from molding too soon.
  • > Prepare foods for quick and easy access by storing them in clear serving size storage containers.
  • Brussel Sprouts and other vegetables in glass storage containers
Be Thrifty & Save Money
  • > Be creative when cooking. Casseroles, soups and smoothies are great ways to make use of leftovers and fruits and vegetables past their prime.
  • > Shop smart! Start by shopping in your own refrigerator and cupboards first.
  • > Avoid shopping when you’re hungry, as that can lead to overbuying.
  • woman in a grocery stores checking off items from a list
  • > Buy locally-grown foods and less than perfect looking fruits and vegetables to save money.
  • > Pay attention to expiration dates and learn the difference between “sell-by,” “use-by” and “best-by” on products.

For more information on how to keep foods from spoiling and safe to eat, visit:

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