Waste — Is It Inevitable?

by Katy on September 12, 2008 · 4 comments




We all do it. Food, fuel, money, time, and personal energy. 

It’s close to impossible to live a completely waste-free life. I know, because I’m trying. Really hard.

I issued a “Waste No Food Challenge”  for Non-Consumer Advocate readers in May because I was mortified with the amount of food I was buying, storing and then tossing. My home’s vegetable crisper had become nothing more than an air conditioned Slime-O-Tron 2000. (Patent pending at this time.)

The money spent, the resources wasted. Argh!!!

Even with my efforts at full-steam, I’m still wasting some food. Garlic that’s sprouted, food other people have brought to the house, cereal pushed to the back of the cupboard with little wiggling residents.

I compost, and madly tuck leftovers into new meals and freeze all I can. And yes, I’m even eating the frozen food. (I try hard to not delay waste by freezing food I have no intention of ever getting back to.)

So is it worth all my valiant efforts? If I’m trying my very best to not waste food, yet still doing it, should I give up?

Absolutely not!

I have gone from from thrice weekly grocery store trips to maybe once a week. Each trip that doesn’t happen translates to money saved, as the impulse food purchases are cut from the cycle. 

We are wasting maybe 10% of what we were before the challenge, and eating healthier to boot. 

I used to feel like I needed to buy more groceries when the fridge looked empty, but I realize that the cluttered fridge of the past was mostly leftovers that went to waste. I can now see what I have, so it’s easy to keep on top of eating up our food.

I have learned a lot about how to avoid food waste:

  • Put out smaller servings, especially for kids. It’s okay to have seconds.
  • It’s better to buy the specific amount of ingredients required for a meal. Even if that means paying a higher price per pound. There’s no savings if food gets thrown out.
  • Choose smaller fruit. The huge apples and pears are more than we need.
  • Post-ripe fruit can be frozen for yummy smoothies.
  • Clear leftover containers help me to remember what I have available. This has been key, as I apparently am a see-it-to-believe-it kind of gal.

The Waste-No-Food challenge was officially a 30 day project, but I have no intentions to revert back to my wasteful ways. 

Come join the challenge. You’ll save money, time shopping and most likely eat better. C’mon, it’ll be fun!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Meg September 12, 2008 at 1:21 pm

I try not to waste — and goodness knows, I’m doing a lot better. At my house, we’ve probably cut our garbage in half this year, maybe more if we don’t count our roommate and any guests. But still, it amazes me how much we end up discarding.

I try to remind myself, though, that what we compost isn’t exactly waste. It’s just overpriced fertilizer.

And with every grocery trip I try to remind myself to simply buy less. I love to have plenty of fresh food, but we have plenty of other foods already so there’s no worry of us starving. And I can supplement it with stuff from my garden, even if I just add in some dandelion greens.


Alison September 12, 2008 at 5:21 pm

I tried something tonight that worked really well: we had a few slices of delicious grilled meat in the fridge but no plans for using it in a sandwich or on top of a salad anytime soon. So I cut it into small cubes, stuck a couple of toothpicks in the cubes and served it to my kids as an appetizer (along with slices of leftover veggies and some creamy salad dressing dipping sauce) before their mac & cheese dinner. It was a big hit and I felt they were getting a better rounded meal to boot!


Caroline September 13, 2008 at 12:40 am

Hi Katy
Congratulations on how far you’ve come in 30 days, just trying means that you are making progress. As you build on the changes you’ve already made at some point, you’ll look back and will be surprised at how far you’ve come.


Lisa Whipple September 13, 2008 at 2:44 pm

I hear you can plant sprouted garlic and get garlic chives. Not that I have ever done this…

I am, however, queen of the leftovers frittata!


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