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Saving Our World
One Whiteboard at a Time

Adele Zagofsky is enjoying retirement by developing a garden of many colors for many palettes.

"In the United States, consumers are collectively responsible for more than 40 percent of all wasted food, which is more than grocery stores and restaurants combined. Changing our attitudes and behaviors at home is key to reducing food waste..." I read that a few years ago from National Resources Defense Council.

I realized that I too am guilty. How often have I bought some food item, used it once and left it to linger in the refrigerator till no longer usable? How often have I bought some veggie, only to have it disappear to some secret refrigerator section? How often have restaurant leftovers never been eaten? And, there are my own leftovers, responsibly put in containers, only to be forgotten — "What is that green stuff in the square container in back?".

It's a lot more than wasted money at stake. Food decaying in landfills creates greenhouse gas emissions. Energy used to grow, transport, cook and store the food is wasted. Some estimate we could feed the world with the amount of wasted food. Some estimate that food loss and waste causes at least 10% of greenhouse emissions. Surprisingly, supermarkets and restaurants have found outlets for excess foods, soup kitchens, shelters, food banks, and even their own employees.

I wanted to do better. But new habits don't come easy.

When I decided to replace our 20 year old refrigerator, I thought I could get a "smart" one. While a smart refrigerator might have helped, alas, I was only able to replace my old refrigerator with the newest model of my very same 20 year old model!


A professional kitchen designer did not design my kitchen. Refrigerators should not be adjacent to a cabinet on one side and a wall on the other side with a full size window a few inches from that wall.

Sadly, my new refrigerator is no smarter than the old one. But it does have a working ice maker and decent lighting, so I can actually see the contents and even more exciting, it has a magnetic surface.

Many years ago, most refrigerator surfaces were magnetic, a place to display a collection of magnets, or perhaps your children or grandchildren's art. My old refrigerator had no magnetic surfaces. New refrigerators today do not all have magnetic surfaces. I read recently, it is considered "lowbrow" or cluttered to decorate your refrigerator. Mmm…

Against modern trends, I purchased a magnetic whiteboard. It came with magnetic markers, and a magnetic eraser. And yes, I moved part of my magnet collection to further decorate. On the whiteboard, I drew four sections: "Leftovers," "Fruits," "Veggies" (w/a sub group for Protein), and "Freezer".

I only listed perishables, not ketchup, relish, mayonnaise, etc. Probably a smart refrigerator could do better.

I have been keeping it up to date and Al has been an active participant as well. I can't report 100% success, but we are getting there. The other day, Al suggested going out to eat and I checked the leftover list. We had a very nice "leftover buffet" lunch!

Lastly, if you wish to experiment, a magnetic refrigerator surface is not mandatory. Whiteboards also come in self-adhesive styles.

~ Adele Zagofsky






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