In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day today and Earth Day next month, I find myself reflecting on how I can go greener. My family and I already do what we can to cut down on energy and water use, and we reuse and repurpose whenever possible.

We even started a “paint the trash” activity with our daughter, where we let her paint cardboard boxes and empty egg cartons before they go to the recycling bin.

However, when I really assess where much of our waste comes from, I realize it is in the food we allow to go uneaten. More often than not, as I do the weekly cleaning of our refrigerator in preparation for trash day, I find hidden, untouched items that are no longer edible. It dawned on me that reorganizing can help to not only ensure our food stays fresher but also that we waste less.

Rearrange for safety


Raw meats should go as low as possible so that juices do not contaminate food products beneath them. If you have a drawer on the bottom, place them in there. Place fruit and veggies in the drawer above that. If you do not have a drawer for raw meat, use a clear bin to keep them separate instead. Use the top shelf for ready-to-eat items and leftovers. The refrigerator door gets warmest fastest, so keep only condiments there.

Take inventory

I saw this idea on a food website that I like to frequent, and it has helped tremendously. In the days of bulk buying, keeping stock of your supply will ensure you waste less and also helps with meal planning. Use plain old pen and paper, and make a list of what you have, particularly in your freezer. Next to each item, place a circle to indicate how many you have. A small circle indicates a small serving, and a larger circle represents a larger one. “X” out the circles as you use the items.

Look before you buy

If you know you are going to go grocery shopping, go through your fridge the night before. Chances are if you wait until the next day, you won’t have time to look before you leave. Plan meals based on what you have, and make a list of what you need before you head out.

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