Education & Prevention

The best tool in our waste prevention mission is Education! Educating ourselves and our communities on how to recycle, compost, and prevent waste helps ensure that this message is carried on for generations to come.

  1. Waste Prevention
  2. Education

40% of food in US household goes uneatenRecycling and composting are great for the environment, but preventing waste is even better.  Preventing food waste can be the first and easiest daily habit to modify.

Why Waste Prevention is Important

Things you can do to prevent food waste:

  • Buy only what you need
    • Create a realistic meal plan—decide what you’re going to eat before you go to the grocery store
    • Try a meal-planning app like Paprika or The Fresh 20*
    • Make a shopping list based on your meal plan and include how much you need of each item. 
    • Stick to your shopping list
  • Store food to stay fresh longer
    • Shop for locally-grown food so it’s fresh when you get it. 
    • Use a food storage guide (PDF) to learn how to store food to last longer.
    • Store food in clear containers so you can see what needs to be eaten.
  • Remember what you have
    • Store new items behind the old to help you remember to use the older food first. 
    • Use a whiteboard to keep track of what you have that needs to be used up.
    • Create an “Eat First” box or shelf for foods that need to be eaten soon (see example in King County’s Smart Saving video).
    • Eat leftovers
    • Try out recipes that combine ingredients you have on-hand. Check out Big Oven or King County’s Food: Too Good to Waste Recipe Box to search for recipes.*
    • Freeze what you can’t finish – see more tips for freezing.
  • Understand date labels
    • Date labels are about the best quality, not safety. Check out the USDA’s Food Product Dating Fact Sheet and learn how to tell for yourself if food has gone bad, instead of relying on date labels. 
    • Infant formula is the only exception. It should not be used after the “Use-By” date.
    • Check out Stilly Tasty for info on the shelf life of foods or the USDA’s Food Keeper app for recommended food storage times.