How to Reduce Food Waste

How to Reduce Food Waste

Every year, the United States chucks nearly 40 percent of its food. Dana Gunders, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the author of The Waste-free Kitchen Handbook, offers money- and planet-saving tips.



Photo by Peter Oumanski

Your book says the United States wastes 50 percent more food now than it did in the 1970s. Why is that?
Portion sizes have grown tremendously since then. Plus, it’s become normal for restaurants and caterers to produce excessive menus and buffets and for consumers to buy more than they need.

We’ve come to expect large amounts of food.
Yes. Research NRDC has done found that people are not comfortable with empty white space on plates or in fridges or grocery carts. There’s an urge to fill those spaces with food. And in our culture, throwing food out is acceptable. In fact, leaving something on your plate is considered posh.

What else contributes to food waste?
A lot of produce won’t get picked for market because it’s not pretty enough to be sold. It gets tossed or turned into the soil.

What’s the environmental impact?
About 70 percent of our water and 50 percent of our land is devoted to agriculture. So when we’re not eating that food, it’s a huge unnecessary use of resources. About 33 million cars’ worth of greenhouse gases are produced to grow food that never gets eaten.

What types of food get wasted most?
Fruits and vegetables. Tied for second are dairy products and bread. Meat is third, but it has the biggest impact. If you throw out a hamburger, that’s the equivalent of taking a 90-minute shower, in terms of the water it took to produce it.

How can we waste less produce?
If you need small amounts of specific fruits or veggies for a recipe, buy them from the salad bar so the excess won’t rot in your fridge. Or buy frozen versions, which have almost the same nutritional value with none of the pressure.

What else can we do?
Be realistic. What tends to happen is you buy all these groceries on the weekend because you’re feeling aspirational about how much you’re going to cook. But by Wednesday, life has happened and you’re ordering takeout. And then the broccoli goes bad. Instead, plan for that. If you can, shop often and buy less.

How else can we be conscientious shoppers?
Use a shopping list or an app. And take a last look in your cart before checking out. Think about when in the near future you’re going to eat each item. If you don’t have a clear answer, don’t buy it.

You also talk about conducting a “waste audit.”
For two weeks, jot down what you throw out to pinpoint what you are wasting and why. Did dinner plans change? Did you get wooed by a sale and buy too much? Write down the cost so you feel the financial pain.

How closely should we follow expiration dates?
Take them with a grain of salt, as they’re not federally regulated. A “use by” or “best by” date typically says when the product will be at its best quality. There may be a change in taste, color, or texture.

So we may be throwing out food that’s still OK?
Yes. A big misunderstanding is that when food is old, it will make you sick. The main reason for illness is pathogens like salmonella and E. coli that contaminate food at the farm or processing plants.

What do we need to be careful of?
Mold, green potatoes, and rancid meat, oil, or nuts.

What are some ideas to use up food?
Toss a mishmash of items into a tortilla or in fried rice or pasta salad. You can also sauté wilted lettuce with butter and garlic. Even if you waste a little bit less, it’s still an accomplishment.

Best Practices for Beginner Painters


Want to start a paint project but don’t know where to start? Here are a few techniques to get you started.

Embarking on a DIY painting project for the first time may seem intimidating. Here are a few simple tips to get you started to make the process of achieving professional results quick and easy.


Step One: Get the right supplies

This is a crucial step for anyone tackling a painting project, whether on the pro level or DIY. Make sure you have the right rollers and brushes for your particular paint project. It’s also important that you add the right painter’s tape to your list of essentials. The tape will help achieve clean results without the premium price.


Step Two: Prep your room

Walls aren’t ready for painting until they’re clean; taking the time to thoroughly cleanse your walls is worth the extra effort. With a sponge, scrub the walls to be painted with water and mild dish detergent to remove all dust, fingerprints and grease spots. After the surface is squeaky clean, wait until the walls are completely dry before applying any paint or primer.


Step Three: Priming your wall

Priming your wall is an additional, but necessary step to attain a smooth finish and allow your paint to adhere to it.  Priming also helps maximize the sheen of your paint job, providing a flawless effect. Opt for a primer based on your project and apply it to your walls with a paint roller. Use a paintbrush to apply the primer in any tight areas. Once walls are dry to the touch, which can take up to three hours, you can start painting.


Step Four: Begin Painting

When the paint is thoroughly stirred and ready to apply, gather your clean brush and roller and begin coating your walls. First, utilize your brush for nooks and crannies that your roller can’t reach – around trim and in the corners of walls. Use your roller to paint the wall using the “W” technique; start painting near a wall corner, and roll on your paint in large “W” patterns across the surface. Next, fill in the gaps without lifting the roller unless more paint is needed. Continue this process in sections until there are no visible brush or roller strokes remaining.

Taking on a new home improvement task can be daunting, but with the right tips and products, your job can be all that you envisioned and more.


10 Perfect Paint Colors for a Kitchen

10 Perfect Paint Colors for a Kitchen

Need help narrowing down a wall color for your cook space? We asked the pros to share their go-to hues for a gorgeous-looking kitchen.


Photo by William Abranowicz

6 Great Whites

It’s the undisputed ideal—but there are just sooooo many white paints to choose from. Decorating pros reveal their tried-and-true favorites.

Decorator’s White by Benjamin Moore
“This is a true white without any undertones. It’s the cleanest and crispest you can find, making it a great choice for kitchens.” —Tobi Fairley, Little Rock, Arkansas–based designer

Clunch by Farrow & Ball
“If your cabinets are a deep shade, this is your ideal white for the walls. It’s bright and fresh, to balance out the cabinets’ rich tones.” —Tracy Morris, Washington, D.C.–based designer

White Dove by Benjamin Moore
“With just a hint of gray, this is a warm, natural-looking white that makes a great backdrop for art, too. It’s my all-time favorite. —Elaine Griffin, New York City–based designer

Precious Pearls by Dunn-Edwards
“An easy way to give your kitchen an upscale look is to paint the walls with this white, which has beautiful, slightly shimmery opalescent undertones.” —Nate Berkus, Los Angeles–based designer
to locate a store near you.

Ballet White by Benjamin Moore
“This is just the right white for a modern kitchen. It looks slightly beige or gray, depending on the natural light in the room. I love it with a clean-lined cabinet.” —Tracy Morris

Antique White by Sherwin-Williams
“This white is one of my standbys because it’s so warm. It gives a kitchen a cozy, lived-in feeling.” —Tobi Fairley

4 Gorgeous Non-White Wall Colors for Kitchens

Kitchen with blue cabinets

Deep blue, cheery yellow, rich tan, poppy green: You can’t lose with these designer-approved hues if you want to bring a splash of color to your cook space

Woodlawn Blue by Benjamin Moore
“There’s just enough warmth in the base of this blue to keep it from veering too ‘baby.’ If you want a cook space that feels calm, cool, and collected, this is your shade.” —Tracy Morris

Golden Straw by Benjamin Moore
“I’ve put this apricot-y yellow in a million kitchens because it looks good with everything, especially wood-tone or white cabinets. It’s practically a neutral, but with a sunshine-y oomph.” —Elaine Griffin

Smoked Trout by Farrow & Ball
“Funny name but great color! This tone oozes Old-World charm. It works in a traditional setting or a transitional one. Choose it if you’re looking to do something a little different with your kitchen without going

The 20 Greatest Spots to Buy Textiles Online

The 20 Greatest Spots to Buy Textiles Online

Where to shop for bedding, drapes, rugs, and more.



Photo by Levi Brown


ABC Home
This revered New York City–based furnishings emporium overflows with top-of-the-line luxury linens from brands like Frette and Libeco. Don’t overlook the house brand, abcDNA, which turns out plush velvet quilts and luscious organic-cotton sheets in dreamy pastels. Deal hunters: Watch for the annual winter and summer sales (in December and June into July), with discounts of up to 60 percent.

The Company Store
Designers like Thom Filicia load up on anything-but-basic basics here—solid sheets (in 16 colors) in silky 300-thread-count cotton at refreshingly affordable prices. With a couple of clicks, add a custom monogram for an extra $6 to $12.

Kerry Cassill
The online arm of this Laguna Beach, California, store is a bonanza for Kerry Cassill’s Indian-inspired motifs. You’ll find a gorgeous mash-up of block-print mandalas, breezy florals, and ticking stripes that work so effortlessly well together, people will think you took a master class in layering.

Serena & Lily
The company got its start a dozen years ago with nursery bedding, but Serena & Lily has grown up to offer everything you need to decorate your entire home. Designers such as Thomas O’Brien flock here in particular for “the nicest, most versatile bedding.” There’s a vast selection of classic, crisp whites and splashy-but-sophisticated embroidered patterns. (Check out the popular Gobi linens, stitched in the prettiest spectrum of seasonally updated hues.)

Blankets, Quilts, and Throws

Brahms Mount
It doesn’t get any better than this for impeccable cotton, wool, and linen blankets. Woven on antique looms by artisans in Maine, they will be passed down in your family for generations. The most common patterns are classic herringbones and stripes, with the occasional twist, like an ombré wool throw. Oh, and P.S. Free shipping!

Roberta Roller Rabbit
Textile designer Roberta Freymann has a passion for travel, and that’s obvious in her global-inspired line of whimsical, colorful pieces. “Her cheery Indian block-print blankets, throws, and bedding are like happy pills for your home,” says designer Elaine Griffin. And free returns means no buyer’s remorse.

Curtains and Drapes

Loom Décor
Ordering custom window treatments has never been simpler. This site offers 400+ affordable fabrics to choose from (in florals, houndstooth prints, trellis patterns, and more) and has stylists on hand to web-chat with you to get a sense of your space and whittle down options. “I use the site a lot,” says designer Jenny Komenda. “I love the quality of their craftsmanship, and they work fast on custom orders. Usually they’ll get them out in a week or two.”

Restoration Hardware
Head here for luxurious, beautifully textured fabrics, like Belgian linens, velvets, and Thai silks in a tastefully muted gradation of colors (mainly whites, creams, and grays). “When it comes to ready-made window treatments, these look as close to custom as they come,” says Nina Freudenberger. The rod collection, too, is unparalleled, made of metals in a spectrum of varied shades with gorgeous finial options.

The Shade Store
Whether it’s wooden blinds, solar shades, or velvet curtains you’re after, this site has everything, and it’s all handcrafted Stateside. “All the styles feel modern yet timeless,” says Christiane Lemieux, the founder of the home-furnishings retailer DwellStudio and the executive creative director at Wayfair. “I used the Shade Store’s cream linen sheers in my own bedroom to give the windows a pretty, polished look.” Swatches are on the house, as is shipping. And for non-DIYers, the company offers measuring and installation services.


John Robshaw Textiles
Glamour abounds when it comes to John Robshaw’s striking pillows, made by artisans throughout India and Southeast Asia. The designer’s hand-block prints are done in linen and cotton blends. Don’t miss the ethereal ikat collection, hand-woven in Thailand.

Judy Ross Textiles
New York City designer Judy Ross turns out exquisite hand-embroidered linen and wool pillows using the centuries-old chain-stitch technique. The eye-popping, graphic prints are like mini canvases for your sofa.

Lulu & Georgia
Sort by size and cushion fill, then feast your eyes on a windfall of options, including bold brushstroke prints and retro needlepoints, with many under $100.

Urban Outfitters
Personality-driven pieces for the budget-minded are this seller’s forte. Find lavishly patterned pillows (geometric, tie dye, zigzag) and even animal-shaped cushions—all at irresistibly low prices.


The dazzling flat weaves of Brooklyn-based rug designer Aelfie Oudghiri, handwoven in India, make any space look more worldly, at down-to-earth prices (from $89 for a two-by-three-foot rug). The bold patterns feel one-of-a-kind, in happy-chic color combos like blush pink and citrus green. And should you want to tweak the palette or need a nonstandard size, they take custom orders.

Dash & Albert
Practical as they are, indoor-outdoor rugs often look drab and feel plastic-y. Cut to Dash & Albert and you’ll find that they are soft, virtually indestructible and come in a rainbow of patterns that instantly upgrade a room. (O’Brien swears by the stripes and plaids for entry-ways.) Also find a full range of wool, sisal, and cotton offerings—all well-priced and in sizes big and small.

Madeline Weinrib
Designer Madeline Weinrib rocked the rug world back in 1997, when she brought out her first collection, featuring knockout motifs in supersaturated colors. Since then, her stunning creations have been in every decorator’s back pocket, with good reason. “These graphic patterns work in almost any style or room,” says Freudenberger.

Safavieh Home Furnishings
Classic, tasteful floor coverings that stand the test of time (think subtle swirls and stripes) are the focus here, many of them part of designer collaborations with big names, such as Ralph Lauren and Jamie Drake. Don’t miss the clearance section, where you’ll find a bevy of bargains.


Garnet Hill
It’s all in the details with this 39-year-old company’s signature plush, generously sized Egyptian-cotton bath linens. Available in 18 saturated colors, the terry features extra-long loops for the highest absorbancy. Craving some pattern? Choose from cheery polka dots, Greek keys, and a splashy, floral Lily Pulitzer collaboration.

Scents and Feel
Turkish fouta towels—those thin, fringed, fast-drying beauties that are a favorite of design pros and bloggers—are the mainstay here. Dozens of styles lay in wait, for a multitude of uses. Depending on the size, they can work as hand towels, beach blankets, dishcloths, tablecloths, or runners.

Prepare for bathtime bliss. There’s a seemingly never-ending selection of towels in every conceivable color and pattern at bargain prices. Designers across the board rave about the exclusive Nate Berkus collection, which rivals the weight and the softness of the top-end luxury brands.

5 Decorating Finds for Small Spaces

5 Decorating Finds for Small Spaces

Looking for functional pieces of furniture that don’t eat up all of your living space? Check out these modern finds for a possible solution.

Murphy Entry Bench


In a small space, multipurpose products should be your go-to choice. This streamlined mango wood bench has storage below for shoes or a basket of dog-walking accessories.

Adesso Cormac Chair


Even in tight quarters, it’s nice to have a cozy chair to read and relax in. This upholstered armchair’s tapered wooden legs and curved base make it feel airier than a traditional club chair.

Norden Gateleg Table


In need of a dining table or work station that will fit into a multipurpose room? This two-sided, drop-leaf table seats two to four people and can sit flush against the wall if extra floor space is needed instead. A trio of drawers in the center makes it ultra-functional.Ghost Side Chair


Give the illusion of more space by incorporating transparent chairs around the dining table or alongside your desk. This version will provide the necessary seating without taking up visual space in the room.

Wood and White Metal Leilani Tulip Dining Table


A small-scale round pedestal table will give you the surface area you need for meals at home without the added bulk of multiple legs.

3 Easy Gardening Hacks to Get You Ready for Spring

3 Easy Gardening Hacks to Get You Ready for Spring

Shoe Organizer as Vertical Garden


Photo by Travis Rathbone

Love the idea of an herb garden, but just don’t have the room? Maximize your vertical space by hanging a shoe organizer on a sunny fence, shed, or porch door. First poke small holes in the bottom of each pocket for drainage and then fill with herbs or other small plants. Bonus: When you water your plants from the top row, the overflow water will drip into the plants below.



Ice Cream Cone as Seed Starter


Photo by Travis Rathbone

Have a couple sugar cones that have gone stale in the cabinet? Repurpose them as seedling starters. Just fill a cone with soil and your favorite seeds. “This works best for seedlings that grow within a few weeks,” says Heather Rhoades of the gardening website The reason why this summer treat vessel works so well? It’s biodegradable, making replanting easy.


Wine Bottle as Self-Watering Planter


Photo by Travis Rathbone

Rinse out a wine bottle and fill it with water. Replace the cork and hammer a nail through it to create a small hole. Remove the nail and place the neck of the bottle in the soil at a slight angle. Water will drip out and hydrate your plant once the soil dries around it. (Will water a medium-size plant for your entire one-week vacation.)

6 Pros on the Cleaning Products They Can’t Live Without

6 Pros on the Cleaning Products They Can’t Live Without

Skoy Cloth


Photo by

Trade in your paper towels for the Skoy Cloth —it gives you a streak-free wipedown on any surface. It’s 100% biodegradable and printed with soy ink, and best of all, you can just throw it in the dishwasher to clean it. —Christine Dimmick, founder and CEO of the Good Home Company

HAAN SI-40 Swivel Head Floor Steamer


Photo by

Typical floor cleaners leave behind residue, and I don’t like the idea of chemicals ending up on my kids’ skin and pets’ fur. So I use the Haan Steam Mop instead—it cleans beautifully and because it uses the power of steam, it’s toxin-free. —Dimmick

Bioshield Floor Milk


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Bioshield Floor Milk is gentle and works wonders for sprucing up old, worn floors—not just wood, but all kinds of surfaces like tile and linoleum, too. I recommend using it once or month or so as an upkeep product. Instead of leaving a dulling film like many chemical floor polishes, it cleans and provides a natural dirt and water resistant barrier. Your floors will shine and you’ll have less scrubbing to do in the long run! —Jacqueline Janus, Owner of Two Chicks and a Broom

Casabella Microfiber Blind Glove


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I’m a huge fan of Casabella’s Microfiber blind glove which picks up dirt and dust quickly and easily. To remove stains in a toilet, I always use a handled pumice stone called the Pumie Toilet Bowl Ring Remover. —Leslie Reichert, Cleaning Expert and Author of The Joy of Green Cleaning

Better Life Stain and Odor Eliminator


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Better Life Stain and Odor Eliminator is my go-to product for removing carpet stains. Just clean up any excess mess, then spray directly onto the area and blot with a damp towel. —Donna Smallin Kuper, Certified Housecleaning Technician, Author, and Blogger at

Unger Microfiber Window Combi: 2-in-1 Professional Squeegee and Window Scrubber


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A microfiber window squeegee is the key to cleaning lots of windows in a hurry. —Becky Rapinchuk, Founder of and Author of Simply Clean

Endurance Bio Barrier


Photo by

Most mold and mildew products are highly toxic and/or don’t work, but the Endurance Bio Barrier water-based formulas contain zero VOCs and have been laboratory-tested to inhibit the growth of molds, mildew, and germs on treated surfaces. First, you use Endurance Cleaner Prep to remove existing mold, then you spray Endurance Bio Barrier to prevent future mold by coating and sealing the surface with this formula. —Linda Cobb, creator of Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean book series.

Gym Equipment Has More Germs Than a Toilet Seat—But Don’t Panic

Gym Equipment Has More Germs Than a Toilet Seat—But Don’t Panic

We got to the bottom of the hype


Photo by Blend Images – Erik Isakson/Getty Images

If you’re looking for a reason to skip the gym today, a new study from the fitness equipment review site might seem like it. After swabbing 27 pieces of gym equipment at three different gyms they found that, on average, each machine was teeming with more than one million colony-forming units (CFU) of bacteria. To show just how germy this is, they drew comparisons to other dirty surfaces. An exercise bike has 39 times more bacteria than a reusable cafeteria tray. Free weights have 362 times more bacteria than a toilet seat, and a treadmill has 74 more times more bacteria than a water faucet. Disgusting enough to stay on the couch, right?

We wouldn’t be so sure. Though the study broke down the average CFU into percentages of types of bacteria (gram-positive cocci, gram-negative rods, gram-positive rods, and bacillus) those are just general types of bacteria—not specific names of pathogens that would cause alarm. People generally carry a ton of germs on the skin, and they impart them wherever they go through contact through skin, nasal carriage area, and through your feces (sorry germaphobes).

“While there is potential of harmful bacteria present, it’s not a given that you’re going to be infected, says Dr. Philip M. Tierno, professor of microbiology and pathology at the School of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York and author of The Secret Life of Germs. “You can reduce that possibility by washing your hands prior to touching conduits of entry into your body.”

Besides washing your hands before and after using equipment, and refraining from touching your eyes, nose or mouth while using equipment, there are a few other things you can do to stay safe. First, wipe off the germs with a sanitary wipe before you use a machine and properly dispose of it in the trash (in other words: don’t leave it in the cup holder!). Also don’t workout if you’re sick, and wash your gym clothes when you get home.

But overall, your risk from getting sick from a germy gym is extremely low to nil, even if those numbers sound scary. “It’s not a surprising thing, nor is it alarming,” says Tierno. “Don’t let that toilet business fool you.”


5 Mini Decorating Moves for a Boring Home Office

5 Mini Decorating Moves for a Boring Home Office

See how a designer transformed Broadway and TV star Sutton Foster’s home office in just five easy steps.

Photos by Matt Harrington Photo

A home office can easily become a neglected space. Since it’s not usually a place to entertain guests or hang out, people tend to keep the home office bare and focus their decorating efforts on other spaces, like the living room, dining room, or family room—which was the case with the home office in actress Sutton Foster’s New York City apartment.

So Foster enlisted the help of interior designer Mike Harrison and HomeGoods to give the office more personality and style. “Functionality doesn’t mean lack of style,” Harrison says. “One of the great advantages of this space was that there was so much natural light with a stunning view, so the interest is already built into one entire wall. Another great plus was that the three pieces of existing furniture were beautiful, quality pieces so my job was just to marry the function with the style of the space and execute a clear vision for the room.”

Foster, who wanted the space to be neutral but not boring, says Harrison’s updates make the new office “come to life.” And it was all done with some inexpensive styling tricks you can use to give your own space a makeover. Here, Harrison’s tips:

1. Bring in Color.
Your favorite, eye-catching colors can make a space feel unique and more relaxed. “For this room in particular, it was important to Sutton that it be a place of inspiration for her husband, who is a professional writer,” Harrison says. “She wanted a space full of interest with a sophisticated whimsy. I wanted to achieve this through a layered neutral palette, with an occasional pop of color.”

2. Add Accessories.
“When personalizing an office space on a budget, try to remember that a little goes a long way,” he says. “One new desk lamp or one new rug can really transform a room. Also, it’s important to remember that even if a room needs to function as an office, it is still an extension of your home. It doesn’t need to be stale and corporate, so inject personal touches like framed pictures, special objects, and artwork.” In Foster’s office, Harrison added a geometric rug, abstract art, patterned pillows, plants, and unexpected lighting.

3. Play With Scale.
Often, your home office might be a small nook or a tiny room, so it’s important to maximize every inch of space. “When dealing with smaller spaces remember that scale is important,” Harrison says. “I used a great mirrored end table to serve as a coffee table instead. I also found a clean, white leather desk chair that brightened up the space to juxtapose the dark wood in the furniture.”

4. Organize With Style.
Keep the clutter contained. “Since the office is a highly functional room, organization is key,” he says. “Let the organizational supplies that you use exhibit the room’s style.” And, luckily, you can easily find inexpensive office supplies that pack a lot of color and flair—think metallic notebooks and pens, acrylic boxes and pencil cups, and colorful tape dispensers and staplers.

5. “Fake” an Office.
Don’t have a designated office? Don’t worry: You can still create a working space wherever you have a little bit of extra space. “Create room for a small desk in your living area, bedroom, or even dining area,” Harrison says. “You can add floating shelves above it to house office supplies and display decorative objects.” Ta-da, an office nook.


8 Ways to a Makeover With Mirrors

Brighten and expand your interiors with a touch of imagination — and a mirror or two


Give your interiors an instant makeover without having to knock down walls. There’s a much easier way to enhance your space and make it look larger while adding tonnes of personality to it. Simply add a mirror! No longer just restricted to your vanity table, a mirror can be creatively placed to upgrade every room from your hallway to your kitchen. We show you how.