There is one in every house.
Sometimes even two, or three, if you’ve got a garage or the mini version that’s been around since college.
Your refrigerator is making you fat — but not for the reasons you’re thinking. You’re probably assuming, as did I, that the fridge is the culprit because people pack it with awful food. That’s true but it’s only part of the story.
If you’re buying a ton of food a week right after tossing a ton of food you’re probably already aware of this issue. The United States is a hoarding culture and it’s obvious with how we treat food. Have you ever put leftovers in the fridge knowing full well you’ll never eat them, or want to eat them, again? Have you ever bought food at the grocery store because you “think” you’re almost out of it at home, only to get home and realize you’ve got four unopened containers of it going bad in the fridge? Do you buy in bulk? Then you’re one of the victims.
Bigger fridges encourage unhealthy eating habits. Brian Wansink, a professor of nutritional science and consumer behavior at Cornell and the former executive director of the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, did a study of warehouse club shoppers that showed that families that have more food in the house eat more food. If your freezer is large enough to house the family SUV and is full of ice cream because you bought it in bulk on a deal, you’re going to eat more of that ice cream than if you’d just bought a single carton for your sensibly-sized freezer.
Even worse: a report from the National Resources Defense Council estimates that the average American throws out about 25 percent of food and beverages purchased. That’s going to be hundreds of dollars a year for a single person, and thousands for a family of four. A major culprit is over-buying, and a major reason we over-buy is because we can over-store. Shop more often, a few times a week or even near-daily, and the only things in your fridge should be stuff you plan to eat immediately and maybe a few jars of preserves and condiments and sauces.
The fridge is costing you money with wasted food and waste power. Check out these absurd numbers.
In terms of energy usage, the fridge is probably your single biggest energy drain short of your car—not that it uses the most power per minute (that would be the oven or air conditioner), but it, unlike other appliances, is on 24 hours a day.
If your fridge was made before standards changed in 2001, as mine was, it’s using somewhere in the vicinity of 1,000 to 1,750 kilowatt-hours per year (kWh/year). Your average laptop uses about 72 kWh/year, and newer, better laptops like the MacBook Air use around 25 kWh/year. That means your non-new fridge uses up to 70 times as much energy your laptop. According to the EPA, using that much electricity is the equivalent of burning up to 50 gallons of gasoline per year.
Fifty gallons of gas just to keep your uneaten taken cold “just in case.”
It might be time to dump the fridge and just buy food fresh daily. I could live without a fridge. Could you?