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Monday, November 24, 2008

Preventing Food Waste at Holiday Time or Anytime

Here are some great tips for avoiding waste (and waist!) this holiday season, provided by Nan Jensen, Pinellas County Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent


Don't shop from memory. Using a list helps you buy just what you need and prevents you from buying too much of some items and forgetting others.

Don't shop hungry. It only increases the chances of making impulse purchases that you won't be able to finish.
While buying in bulk can save you money, it can cost you more if you purchase items in large quantities with a short use-by date. Buy those items in large quantities that you will be sure to use.
Buy perishable foods such as fruits, vegetables and meats in smaller quantities that still meet the needs of your family.

At Home:

Like restaurants, follow the FIFO (First in, First Out) rule. Check your fridge on a regular basis and bring foods that will need to be disposed of soon to the front to encourage family members to eat it, or use as ingredients in the next meal you prepare. Do the same in your food pantry.

Make sure your refrigerator is set to the right temperature (40 degrees or below).

Store those holiday foods properly. Improper storage generates massive amounts of food waste. Make sure you have the right tools for the job such as airtight containers. Those containers that once held the margarine, cottage cheese or sour cream simply won't go the distance.

Learn how to freeze your food for better storage. Most foods freeze well and can be wrapped in portions to prolong storage and make it easier to pop them in the microwave for a quick lunch. Vegetables freeze best if they are blanched first. Meat and fish can be frozen raw or cooked but should be wrapped tightly.

Plan your holiday meals well in advance. This way you can ensure you have the ingredients you need on hand and can reduce extra spending and waste.

The best way to eliminate food waste is to not create it in the first place. There are particular meals you prepare that seem to generate more waste than others. If the leftovers will be eaten the next day, that’s fine. If not, then you really need to look at portion control by reducing the amount you cook, making enough of course to satisfy those growling tummies.

Learn how to use leftovers in recipes. The rice left over from dinner one night can made into fried rice for another meal. Brown bananas can be sliced, sprinkled with honey, and frozen for a snack or can be baked into banana bread or muffins. Stale bread can be used for French toast, bread pudding or croutons for salad.

Practice “waist control”. In a society where obesity is hitting epidemic proportions - overeating is waste. If you eat more than your body needs, you'll gain weight so get realistic about your portion sizes. For more information about portion control check out the following site:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Get Ready for Green Holidays!

Beginning December 4th, Pinellas County Extension will be posting a new article to its online green newsletter, Thinking Green, every weekday on topics related to green holidays. Tips and facts on food, family, gifts and decorating will be covered. Join us for the “12 Days of Green” this holiday season! Visit to sign-up for this free, online newsletter.

Season’s Greenings – Holidays for a Healthy Planet
Join us for a fun, interactive presentation on having a green holiday! This is the time of year when families gather to celebrate. Exchanging gifts, decorating homes, and sharing meals are common activities. Join us to learn how to keep the green in your holiday celebrations. Participants will take home handy tip sheets for sustainable gifts, decorating and meal ideas. There is no fee for this program. Pre-registration is required. Recommended for adults, suitable for children ages 12 and up.

Saturday November 29th from 1:00-2:30 at Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center. To register, call: 453-6800

Saturday December 6th from 1:00-2:30 at the Weedon Island Preserve Cultural and Natural History Center. To register call: 453-6500

Saturday December 13th from 10:00-11:30 at Pinellas County Extension. To register, visit and visit our new Online Class Registration from the main page.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Get to Work at Going Green

by Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director and Urban Sustainability Agent
Here are some simple things you can do to be GREEN at work:
  • Print double-sided whenever possible.
  • Narrow your margins to reduce paper.
  • Reuse the back of a one-sided document for drafts before you recycle the paper.

  • Use reusable mugs and dishes for your drinks and food during the day to reduce waste.

  • Ask for and order recycled content office paper, supplies and products. Buying recycled content helps turn recyclables into new products.
  • Turn off your lights when not in your office.
  • Turn off your computer screen when you are away from your desk for long periods of time.
  • Turn off your computer when not in use.
  • Open window blinds to let in natural sunlight and turn off overhead lights whenever possible.
  • Turn off vehicles when stopped. Idling vehicles waste energy and cause increased pollution.
  • Use recycling containers at your desk and in common areas for unsoiled paper, cans and bottles to reduce waste going to the landfill.

    Remember to take the At Work Pledge at:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Clean and Green

James Stevenson, Pinellas County Extension Educator, Urban Sustainability

OK, cleaning the home is not really everyone’s favorite job, which is why it is called houseWORK and not housePLAY. But consider the potential human and environmental impacts added to the insult of having to undertake this regular chore. Many common household cleaners contain substances that can lead to a potentially harmful indoor environment.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency ( Americans spend an average of 90 percent of our lives indoors. Couple that with the evidence that indoor environments can be more polluted that the air in industrial cities, perhaps it is time to consider protecting our indoor environment!

From the laundry room to the toilet bowl, we can purchase products to keep our whites their whitest and that kill 99.9% of germs. This puts us in contact with some materials that have to be safely handled due to potential risks. To name a few: Sodium hydroxide is found in some oven cleaners, and some drain cleaners contain a powerful caustic which can cause burns to the skin and eyes. Chlorine might be found in laundry and dishwasher products and is another cleaner that should be handled carefully. Furniture polishes, air fresheners, carpet shampoo, and cosmetics can impact our indoor air quality in the comfort of our homes.

UF researchers have compiled a list of green alternatives to some of the above products. The publication can be found at: It covers not only alternative cleaners, but practices that can help prevent the need for some more toxic substances in the home.

Of course there are many green cleaning products on the market as well, with more added everyday. These less-toxic or non-toxic products have traditionally been more expensive than their non-green counterpartsbut the increased demand has begun to lower prices on green alternatives.

To ensure the product you wish to purchase really is green, be sure to read “Greenwashing: Be Aware" in the Thinking Green E-newsletter

Hazardous Household Chemical Disposal:
Hazardous Household Substances: Alternatives That Are Relatively Free of Toxic Effects: