The holidays bring joy and a massive amount of waste. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest days for food waste with millions of pounds of food headed to landfills across the country. Food waste costs the average family of four about $1,800 a year, hurting pockets and taking a major toll on the environment.
Experts estimate about 200 million pounds of turkey will go to waste this Thanksgiving. According to the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes and 30 million pounds of stuffing will head into garbage bags.
5 Easy Ways To Reduce Food Waste:
Double-check your fridge and pantry before grocery shopping. Now that you have your meals planned and grocery list written- make sure to double-check your own supply before you buy. It is very common to buy extra of what you already have, so don't make that mistake this holiday season, taking time before shopping to double-check your stock will save you money, time and reduce food waste.
Know who's coming & their food preferences (obviously, whoever is cooking gets veto power), but if someone is vegetarian or a light eater this can alter how much of each item you make. Also, if no one else is interested in eating all 5 of your favorite foods, maybe just pick 1 or 2. You can even use online tools to estimate how much food you will need for a holiday meal. Also, tell your guests before attending to bring their food containers if they would like leftovers if there is an excess still.
For smaller family gatherings, consider ditching the turkey. It is very unlikely to find a small turkey less than 10 lbs so instead consider roasting chicken or stuffed turkey breast instead so that you're not left with an excess of turkey again this year that will likely end up going in the garbage once you're tired of leftovers.
If you're open to it, try avoiding meat altogether. Having only veggies and sides will help cut down on water and carbon emissions. Plus, Thanksgiving is really all about the sides anyway, am I right. Think: more green than cream.
Compost scraps. While cooking, be mindful of where you’re putting scraps. All those potato peels, eggshells, and onion skins can be composted. Keep out a small container to store compostable items while you’re preparing the meal. Check your local farmers' market to see if they accept compostable food waste.
Turn your leftovers into new meals. Leftovers are more enjoyable in the form of different meals. For ideas on what to do with leftovers, you can visit savethefood.com or The Food Network for inspiration.
After the meal, have guests take leftovers in their own containers, offer to drop off leftovers to your neighbors, or contact a homeless shelter to see if it’ll accept cooked food or spare ingredients.
Let's Get Back To The True Origins of This Holiday
As stated by the NY Times, "The classic Thanksgiving ingredients, like turkey, pumpkin and sweet potatoes, were originally cultivated by Native Americans in ways that showed respect for the Earth. But the celebration has become commercialized, and unmindful of the nation’s violent treatment of Native Americans, said Nikki Sanchez, an Indigenous scholar and documentary filmmaker who lives on Coast Salish territory in Victoria, British Columbia. Those who celebrate need to be more aware of this, and take the time to appreciate their food."
However you celebrate this year, let us be more conscious of our environment, conscious of our blessings, and thankful for all we have.