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Jun 8, 2012 10:59 AM

Office fridge etiquette

Need some advice fellow hounds. Our office has several fridges and quite a few people end up depositing something in the fridge. Unfortunately, there are a few culprits that tend to forget that they've left something there and lo and behold, the fridge starts to smell unholy. I usually just take it upon myself to start pitching things into the bin (tupper ware and all since I refuse to open the lid on a cream soup that's turning pink on top) but I am getting rather irritated with always having to do it. I will say that I have sent out e-mails before but it doesn't seem to getting through.

Does any one have any suggestions on how to remedy this situation? I''ve thought that asking the cleaners to pitch everything every Friday seems a bit extreme and I really don't want to send another e-mail.

Thanks for the help!

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  1. My former employers had a sign on the fridge that notified everyone that everything would be thrown away at a certain time on a certain day. It was a 24 hour business, the the day was randomly chosen (I think it was Thursdays?). The time was 2 hours after the shift on duty got off work. They had time to gather their stuff and the oncoming shift just brought lunch bags with ice packs, if needed, to account for the 2 hour gap. That way, if they weren't in the office when the tossing began, their stuff didn't get trashed. Long story short... if you get your stuff thrown out a time or two, you get more conscientious!

    1. My office tosses everything on Friday at 5pm (except for condiments in the door). I've lost some tupperwear that way, but that's my own fault. It may be extreme, but so is leaving food in the fridge that starts to mold and cause odor.

      5 Replies
      1. re: LeoLioness

        Ditto. We have someone who is sort of responsible for this, and they have an auto email that goes out every 2 weeks notifying you that things will be taken out of the fridge at 3pm and placed on the counter to claim. Anything not claimed is then thrown away at 5. You can re-place an item in the fridge after 3, like if you want to keep salad dressing in there, but everything is taken out every 2 weeks. Everything.

        I leave it to you to work out who the most appropriate person is to do it at your place, if it's not you.

        1. re: rockandroller1

          "We have someone who is sort of responsible for this, and they have an auto email that goes out every 2 weeks notifying you that things will be taken out of the fridge at 3pm and placed on the counter to claim. Anything not claimed is then thrown away at 5."

          That is how it worked at one of my former places of employment. People did not seem to have an issue with it as long as they knew it was coming and some of the single guys were happy to be there at 5:00 PM sharp to take home anything that would be thrown away.

          1. re: Fowler

            Wow. Even in my single days I was never that desperate for food. I suppose it's because my mother taught me how to cook in my youth.

            1. re: John E.

              My guess is that it was not about their Mother failing to teach them how to cook but more likely their economic situation and a bit of laziness.

        2. re: LeoLioness

          Same for mine. End of business Friday.

        3. We have that same situation in my office. Everything that goes into the fridge is supposed to be labeled with your name (unless it is for everyone's use.) We used to have fridge clean out day when everything old that wasn't labeled would be tossed out. Now we have the building cleaning crew cleaning the fridge once a month, but it has to be emptied first.

          Good luck! It's not easy to get folks to pitch in.

          1. Send an email, Ask the cleaner to throw everything in the bin on Fridays.

            (with the same exceptions that Leo wrote).

            1. Tossing someone's Tupperware, or other containers intended for reuse, is over the line. That never happened where I worked. Just throw out the old food periodically, and put the dishes in the sink. It's not a difficult problem.

              19 Replies
              1. re: GH1618

                ...and then the sink is full of gross dishes that the owners may or may not deal with. In my office it was more like tough love. People just didn't. get. it. and at some point, the admins revolted against having to deal with people's rotting food. I can't say I blame them.

                1. re: LeoLioness

                  I've worked places where people were adversarial and places where people cooperated and got along. The latter is better.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    Cooperation implies meeting somewhere in the middle, though. Cleaning up after adults, who have been reminded countless times to do it themselves, isn't cooperation.

                    I've worked in small offices where we could hash out such things on a smaller-scale basis, but am currently in a much larger place (with some people seriously lacking in etiquette/social cues) where there is a need to draw the line somewhere. It's not like they aren't given ample opportunity/warning to come claim their stuff, there is an email on Monday, Thursday and Friday....

                    1. re: LeoLioness

                      I'm with you LeoLioness.....Heck, it's hard enough to get people to make coffee when the pot's expect people to clean up after themselves? I'm all for tossing containers if the owner doesn't take responsibility. Sometimes the stuff in those containers can be toxic and opening it up could result in a bio-hazard. Tough love indeed....don't bring the good containers to work!!!

                      I'll never forget the yogurt container we tracked for 12 months. Yes....12 months.

                      1. re: Dee S

                        A few months ago I was in the kitchen with a new guy when he used the last paper towel. He started to walk away and I told him "oh, the paper towels are kept in that cabinet" and he actually asked "who puts in the new ones?" Uh, YOU, person who used the last one?

                        1. re: LeoLioness

                          In my first office job (as a lowly temp) I came in one morning and found no coffee reay - uh-oh! Crazy me, I made a pot. Maybe because as a teen I worked at a coffee shop. People were dismayed. That was the office manager's job. Never mind all of us standing around at 9am NEEDING OUR COFFEE, we were supposed to wait angrily until he came around.

                          1. re: LeoLioness

                            I hope you actually responded with that.

                    2. re: LeoLioness

                      Did you see the reply about taking old stuff out and putting it on the counter at 3pm? Then anything still there at 5pm is tossed. I think that's the best idea. Of course the people responsible for putting stuff back into the refrigerator have to deal with it if their container is actually a science experiment gone bad.

                    3. re: GH1618

                      If they wanted to reuse then they wouldn't leave their leftovers in the fridge long enough that they would be an issue.

                      1. re: GH1618

                        Not if there's been an email sent, AND a notice stuck on the refrigerator door (on fluorescent pink paper, no less) saying that at 3pm on Friday anything left in the fridge goes out.

                        We rotated the job, so nobody got stuck with the nasty job every week -- and we threw stuff out that I wouldn't have opened for any sum of money -- when you can SEE it's black and moldy, I'm not going to open it -- for a long list of reasons.

                        it's kind of like seeing a speed limit sign and choosing to ignore it -- ignore the hot-pink sign and kiss your Tupperware goodbye.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          I agree, and I've lost (unspoiled) food and tupperware to this method before. I think people genuinely forget it's their stuff in there and eventually, you just have to start from scratch. Or end up with with a fridge that can't be closed because of overflowing contents (and their odours) - which happened to a friend with messy college roommates.

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            if you are rotating this job once a week, how is that enough time for food to get black with mold?

                          2. re: GH1618

                            Too bad. If it doesn't mean enough to you to come get, you obviously don't care if it gets thrown out. Our admins aren't cleaning staff, and they don't need to be doing your dishes so you can go in for coffee one day and go, "Oh hey, look, there's that Tupperware I brought three weeks ago, ha ha ha."

                            Put a reminder in your calendar program to take your stuff home once a week if it means so much to you.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              "Just throw out the old food periodically, and put the dishes in the sink. "
                              Which means *NO ONE* washes the dishes or Tupperware either. Because if after so many notices to go get their belongings, the employees won't remove their food from the fridge, they most certainly won't clean up after themselves either. Why should it be the fridge cleaner's responsibility to remove all that crap in the Tupperware and clean it out?

                              it's a communal fridge. Which means *everyone* is supposed to help keep it clean and remove their own belongings. If they don't, tough luck. Admins and office managers aren't there to babysit and spoon-feed the rest of the company. These are adults we're talking about. If you want to be treated like an adult, act like one. If you get a notice that you should go check to see if the fridge has any of your food items, or it will be thrown away.....then GO CHECK THE FRIDGE.

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                I'd feel free to help myself to any unclaimed Tupperware or dishes I liked. My kids are always throwing perfectly reusable food containers away, so I could stand to have some replacements.

                                1. re: ricepad

                                  OK, you're hired to clean out the OP's fridge, ricepad. ;-)

                                  1. re: ricepad

                                    You'd have to fight the penicillin colonies for them....

                                2. re: GH1618

                                  Absolutely throw out the entire container! Whether it be a tupperware, plastic bag or lunch box. If everyone knows the deadline, then it should never get to the point of infestation! We had a rule at an office where I worked and it was Friday at 5pm. I never knew if I was going to be in the office that day and I made sure to check the frig on Thursday when I left.