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Six stocking stuffers that will ultimately reduce food waste

Dana Gunders

Posted December 17, 2013 in Living Sustainably

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stocking.jpgFrom a waste perspective, the best stocking stuffer is probably no stocking stuffer.  But if you are looking for that trinket that might be a little less wasteful, why not give something that will ultimately help your loved ones waste less food?  Here are a few ideas:

-          Fridge thermometers:  At about $5, this is my number one pick.  Refrigerators should be kept at 40 degrees or lower.  Temperatures above that are considered the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow and food spoils more quickly.  Since most refrigerators have a 1-5 scale, a fridge thermometer is the best way to make sure you’re hitting the 40 degree mark, helping you keep food fresh longer.  Grab one at your local grocery or hardware store.

 -          Shelf life extenders:   There are several products out there trying to help your food last for just a few more days, giving you a little extra wiggle room in using it up.  There are natural varieties, little fridge machines, and a variety of other contraptions to find online.  These don’t take the place of good shopping and cooking habits, but every little bit helps.

 -          Specialized food containers:  These days, food storage containers customized for particular types of produce provide the right conditions for foods to keep longest.  Using reusable baggies and containers also cuts down on your packaging waste. Learn more about what types of materials are reusable and safest here.

 -          Electronic helpers:  Otherwise known as apps, there are all sorts of products out there to help each of us waste less food.  Some help you get more organized about your shopping, others help suggest recipes to use up what’s in your fridge, and still others help you figure out if something is safe to eat.  At the low, low price of free, the LoveFoodHateWaste app is the best bang for your buck, providing all of these functions in one handy app.  I’m not sure how you stuff an app into a stocking, but I suppose that’s something we all need to figure out these days anyhow.

 meal ingredients_Food Thinkers.jpg-          Ingredient subscriptions: Another thing I’m not sure how to physically stuff, but for those who find a way, there are several services popping up that deliver all the ingredients for a great meal right to your doorstep.  In doing this, they eliminate the problem of having to buy a whole bunch of cilantro for a recipe that demands just a few sprigs, and help you find new interesting recipes in the meantime. 

 - Seeds:  That's right, growing your own food can cut down on waste since it doesn't get lost on the way to your table and often allows you to use only as much as you need.  Start by giving your loved ones seeds or starts for herbs that can be grown indoors

Finally, whatever you wind up stuffing in those stockings, be sure that when you’re stuffing your mouths, you keep these tips in mind to keep your own holiday waste-free. 

Photo credits: Food Thinkers and Squirrel Cottage via Flickr

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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