The holidays are a great time for a little over indulgence with food and gifts, but with that, we create a lot of waste. With a little planning, you can reduce that amount of waste and make your holidays a little greener.
According to the National Resources Defense Council, each year about 200 million pounds of turkey meat are thrown out over the Thanksgiving holiday week. Add that to the Christmas season and there is a lot of holiday food going into our garbage.
Here are four ways to make your holiday meals a little more sustainable:
1. Cut out the plastic.
- Bring reusable bags and produce bags to the grocery store.
- Plan time to cut your own vegetables instead of buying plastic-wrapped pre-cut ones.
- Send leftovers home in reusable glass jars and beeswax wrap.
2. Calculate the food you need to make.
Make a plan for how much your guests will eat. There are lots of apps to calculate how much to prepare and also how many leftovers you can have. There is a great “guestimator” tool online that can be helpful in your planning.
Also through The Chopping Block's classes, you can learn how much turkey to prepare. We’ve even created a great free resource with shopping lists: Thanksgiving Survival Guide.
- Have a bucket set aside to collect food waste.
- Check your local farmers markets for compost drop offs.
- Schedule a compost pickup with a local composting service.
- Check with neighbors to see if anyone is composting or has a service pickup.
4. Re-purpose scraps and leftovers.
While it is nice to have leftovers for a few days after a holiday, sometimes we go overboard on the amount. Find ways to prevent those leftovers from going in the garbage.
- Use the turkey bones for a roasted stock or soup. To go the extra mile, use vegetable peels and ends in your stock.
- Turn mashed potatoes into potato pancakes.
- Use stale bread in bread pudding or strata.
If you find you made too much and won’t be able to finish, call around to your local food banks and see if they are accepting food donations. The holidays should also be about giving, so this is a great way to also reduce waste.
Even if you make small changes to your holiday routine, it can make a bigger impact in the long run.