What's the Oldest Thing In Your Refrigerator?

November 15 is America Recycles Day and National Clean Out Your Fridge Day. In celebration, we're asking you to recycle the oldest container in your refrigerator, or compost some old leftovers. Before you do that, though, take a look at some stuff collecting dust in the back of our fridges.

By: Jonnathan Coleman / 11/01/2021

In 1994, two employees at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality started Texas Recycles Day, and by 1997 the day earned enough traction and enthusiasm to become America Recycles Day. It's been observed on November 15 ever since.

Legend has it that two years later, in 1999, Whirlpool Home Appliances ran a marketing campaign to promote refrigerators ahead of the holiday season, called National Clean Out Your Fridge Day. It, too, has been observed on November 15 ever since.

This year, on November 15, celebrate both observances in one simple act: Recycle the oldest container in your fridge. It doesn't get any easier to support two good causes with one plastic bottle, and not only will you help save the environment, you might find something expensive you need to use before it expires.

If you need any more motivation to check out what's hiding in the back corners of your fridge, check out some of the stuff we found in our fridges.

Protein Shake – Status: Expired October 2019

protein shake expired 2019

Culprit: Erin Crandle, Quality & Safety Associate Data Analyst, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "This thing expired two years ago."

Beets – Status: Unknown

label-less beets

Culprit: Amanda Celestino, Recipe Editor, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "I have no idea how old these are."

Organic Yogurt – Status: Expired July 2021

organic yogurt

Culprit: Eliza Winograd, Test Kitchen Director, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "I fed this yogurt to my daughter a few mornings ago for breakfast not noticing the expiration date and it tasted like blue cheese. Even the honey and granola couldn't cover up the awful taste."

Jalapenos and Limes – Status: Not good

jalapenos and limes

Culprit: Natasha Tahilramani, Quality & Safety Manager

Words of Wisdom: "These are leftovers from some tacos I had."

BBQ Sauce – Status: Expired October 2018

expired bbq sauce

Culprit: Amanda Cargill, Senior Content Manager, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "This was a gift from the maker, and I can't bear to get rid of it (because I know it's delicious). I'm absolutely convinced I'll use it one day!"

Fra Diavolo Clam Pizza – Status: You don't want to know

clam pizza

Culprit: Carrie King, Culinary Content Director, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "I used all of the will in my body to save this slice of pizza in my fridge for as long as possible. If I ate this I'd most definitely get 🤢"

Crisco – Status: Expired November 2020

old crisco

Culprit: Jennifer Aaronson, Culinary Director, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "Guess I don’t use Crisco very often."

Jalapeno and Cilantro – Status: Near death

jalapenos and cilantro

Culprit: Megan Snowden, Sustainability Specialist, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "Just some leftovers I didn't end up using."

Colby Jack Cheese – Status: Expired May 2021

old cheese

Culprit: Melanie Schaefer, Offline Marketing Manager, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "We're still hanging on to this, though no one has actually cracked and ate it yet."

Hot Sauce – Status: From 2019

texas hot sauce

Culprit: Rachel Perlmutter, Recipe Developer, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "This moved with me from Texas to Brooklyn. It’s fermented so it honestly may still be good. Equal parts homesickness and it just being THAT good."

Assorted Sauces – Status: Not too bad

assorted sauces

Culprit: Erica Torres, Quality & Safety Manager, U.S. East

Words of Wisdom: "These have been in my fridge ever since I can remember."

Feta Cheese – Status: Expired August 2021

old feta cheese

Culprit: Theo Kaloudis, Dinnerly Culinary Manager, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "As a Greek this is very embarrassing. My parents will be very disappointed that I let feta go to waste."

Pesto – Status: ???

old pesto

Culprit: Kirsten Jones-Strand, Sr. Quality & Safety Specialist, U.S. East

Words of Wisdom: "I don't even remember buying this."

Olives – Status: Very past prime

old olives

Culprit: Anna Painter, Martha Stewart & Marley Spoon Culinary Manager, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "Purchased to make a recipe. Only needed a small quantity, never ate the rest."

Barbecue Sauce – Status: Expired January 2015!

expired bbq sauce

Culprit: Candace Chau, Associate Brand Manager, U.S.

Words of Wisdom: "It's all made of sugar and probably still good."



Please check out our recycling page and your local recycling guidelines to see what you can recycle in your area.