I’ve already completed a first round of large reducing tasks—furniture, kitchen gadgets, clothing, dishes, a vehicle—so what’s next? There are still a few areas of low-hanging fruit (corporate-speak for “easy pickins”) in my home to unclutter. Like cleaning out the fridge and pantry.
My medium-sized refrigerator is rarely more than 1/3 full. I use only 4 small pantry shelves for food. AND YET I still throw out produce that has “gone bad.” AND YET the pantry contains lots of items long long long past their “best before” date. I can’t even say that it was an organized and intentional part of a disaster supply kit! There are items bought for one recipe (and not used again) and items bought for house guests (and not used again). At least most can go into the compost bin rather than the landfill, but still it’s a guilt-inducing WASTE of food, natural resources, time, and $.
“The current system of expiration dates misleads consumers to believe they must discard food in order to protect their own safety. In fact, the dates are only suggestions by the manufacturer for when the food is at its peak quality, not when it is unsafe to eat.” From The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
I confess I have often been rigidly fixed on those “best before” dates because of being a bit germophobic. But I have started pushing through that on items where it is obviously more about freshness and not rancidity or microbes. But the old, unopened items in my pantry all come with the question: why did you buy me in the first place?
This uncluttering exercise is interrelated with my new SLSR savings plan and keeping track of expenses to see where I want to cut back. The one place I had been spending with abandon is the grocery store. Now, I shop with planned menus and an overall food budget in mind (rather than the previous free-for-all). I’ve also started looking at the cost of items as they are rung up or checking the receipt afterwards because I was surprised how frequently there are mistakes. Yes, I have become that person who requests a correction from the cashier or service desk and patiently waits for my refund.
So, my goals in order to reduce waste and save $:
- This weekend, complete cleaning out all the stuff I’m not ever going to use and putting it in the compost bin.
- Using up the stuff in the pantry that is still good (before it becomes #1).
- As I buy new stuff, being mindful of what I have and making sure I use it all!
- Not letting this low-hanging fruit (#1) grow again.
- SLSR = simpler living semi-retirement
- Tips to reduce your “foodprint” and food bill (SOURCE: think eat save)
- The Refrigerator Demystified – a handy info-graphic PDF (SOURCE: Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC))
- The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America (SOURCE: NRDC)