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Amherst Waste Reduction

This blog will have a lot of helpful information and tips on reducing waste, as well as updates on news and issues related to recycling and waste reduction. Check it out regularly!

Sep 17

Don't Waste It!

Posted on September 17, 2018 at 10:55 AM by Mimi Kaplan

At some point you've probably wondered whether it's safe to eat or drink an item in the fridge or pantry that is past it's expiration date. According to ReFed, an organization working to reduce food waste, confusion over expiration dates accounts for about 20% of consumer waste of safe, edible food. It turns out that many foods are actually fine to consume past their expiration dates, and some can even last indefinitely. Here are some guidelines to help you determine how long to safely keep and consume food:

Bread: Toss out when it's moldy. Freeze it to make it last longer.
Canned foods: Up to five years.
Cheese: Hard cheese is safe to eat when there is mold on it- just cut the mold off. Soft cheese should be tossed when it is moldy.
Cereal: Safe indefinitely
Chicken: Two days (refrigerated) if raw, and four days if cooked.
Eggs: Good refrigerated for 4-5 weeks
Fruits and Vegetables: Good unless they are slimy or moldy
Meat: If it is slimy, sticky, or has a bad odor it should be discarded. Color change does not necessarily mean it is bad.
Milk: Good up to five days after the expiration date on the carton.
Oil: Generally good for a year if stored in a cool, dark place
Pasta: Up to 1-2 years after the sell by date on the box.
Rice: White rice is good for up to 4-5 years, and brown rice is good for up to one year. 
Yogurt: Good for a couple of weeks past the expiration date if no mold.

By reducing food waste you can save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions - according to the UN, thirty percent of all food is wasted globally, which contributes 8% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Aug 31

Health Issues of Plastics

Posted on August 31, 2018 at 10:51 AM by Mimi Kaplan

Plastics - they pollute the environment, they don't biodegrade, and they can be hard to recycle. You have also probably heard about health effects from the chemicals in certain plastics. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out with a policy statement that recommends avoiding exposure to these chemicals, since they can impact children's' (and everyone's) health. Studies have found that they can cause endocrine disruption and are possibly carcinogenic. Here are some of their recommendations:
  • Avoid microwaving food or beverages in plastic, since that allows them to absorb the chemicals in the plastic more easily.
  • Avoid putting plastics in the dishwasher.
  • Use alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.
  • Avoid using plastics for foods or beverages with the recycling codes 3 (phthalates),6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols), unless they are labeled as "biobased" or "greenware." 
Avoiding these plastics (3,6, and 7) can improve your health and also help the environment, since most items made with these types of plastics are not as easily recycled and should not go in your recycling bin.

Read the full report here.
Aug 24

"Do Your Part, Recycle Smart"

Posted on August 24, 2018 at 11:45 AM by Mimi Kaplan

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched a new statewide education initiative, Recycle Smart. The goal is to educate the public about the importance of putting the correct items in the recycling bin, and NOT putting in the wrong items that can contaminate recyclables, and drive up the costs of recycling. The Recycle Smart campaign is also promoting a standard list of recyclable items, and a searchable "Recyclopedia" that enables users to search how to properly dispose of hundreds of different items.

One big difference for Amherst and the Pioneer Valley in the standard list of recyclable items is that we CAN recycle cartons, including milk and juice cartons as well as soy and almond milk, soup and drink boxes. These items are accepted at the Springfield MRF but not generally accepted in the rest of the state.

Check out the Recycle Smart website, which includes a recycling guide, FAQs and a video.