If we want a healthy environment for our families and our earth, we all need to learn
smart waste management skills. The most effective way to manage waste is to create
less in the first place. This is especially true in tough economies, when prices for
recycled materials fall dramatically. Reducing kitchen waste is more environmentally
sound than reusing or recycling waste (even composting). The good news about our waste
reduction tips is that they will save you dollar$ (like that the old saying ‘waste
not, want not’). Most importantly, you don’t have to start reducing everything at
once. Begin with one new strategy and move onto another one when you are ready.
1. Consider food packaging carefully.
As you shop for groceries and kitchen items, check out the amount of packaging around various brands and sizes. Buy products with the least amount of plastic, paper, cardboard, and metal surrounding them. Choose the type of packaging that is easiest to recycle in your community. Reduce waste and save money by avoiding prepared and highly processed foods. These products usually have excessive amounts of packaging, as well as a high cost for the amount of food you get.
2. Buy only what you need.
One of the biggest sources of kitchen waste is spoiled and uneaten food. Although much of this may be compostable (an excellent way to recycle), you can reduce waste and save money by only buying the food that you can consume before it goes bad. The three best tips for buying what you need are: (1) Plan meals and snacks before you go shopping. (2) Make a list (using sale flyers from the store) and stick to it. (2) Never ever go food shopping when you are hungry.
3. Buy the biggest size you can use.
Buying in bulk - and choosing the largest size - is generally an excellent way to both reduce waste and save money. You can use many different strategies to take advantage of large sizes and bulk buys. Share a case of fruit, a block of cheese, or large bag of sweet potatoes with friends, neighbors, and family members. If a food can be frozen, divide it into the size that your household will usually eat - and freeze the extra in reused, but well-sealed, plastic containers or freezer bags.
4. Get deliciously creative with leftovers.
Making the most of every bit of food makes great financial sense and a big difference in reducing garbage. After any meal, imagine the delicious possibilities for all the little odds-and-ends. Pieces of meat, fish, and poultry can go into a sandwich for lunch or a soup pot for dinner. Small amounts of meats, eggs, veggies, or potatoes can turn a can of soup into a meal - or add some real flavor to a future casserole. Leftover rolls and bread can be crushed into crumbs and frozen for later use.
5. Ditch disposables, throttle the bottle, and lug a mug.
In our throwaway culture, disposable dishes and utensils became the norm. Green consumers are turning the tide with simple steps, like ‘just saying no’ to plastic forks when getting takeout food. Join the millions of thrifty water drinkers who are returning to tap water. Reusable water bottles and coffee cups save you money (many coffee shops give discounts if you bring your own). Reducing the amount of plastic and paper in your life also helps save our earth - every day!
The programs of the MSU Extension Service are available to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Issued in furtherance of cooperative extension work in agriculture and home economics, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dr. Douglas Steele, Vice Provost and Director, Extension Service, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717.
Montana State University Extension Service is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran's Preference Employer and educational outreach provider.