The festive season is just around the corner, which makes for a lot of excuses to (safely) gather around the dinner table with friends and family to feast on favorite holiday dishes, starting with Thanksgiving at the end of November.
Unfortunately, this also means that the issue of food waste (which is already a grave problem) gets even worse during this time of year. In the US, household garbage, including food waste, increases by as much as 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.
While you may be determined not to guilt yourself for the extra pounds gained around your waist during the holidays, you shouldn’t have the same attitude towards your waste. Here are seven ways you can make your Thanksgiving less wasteful and more sustainable this year.
Coordinate with attendees to avoid too much food
If some of your guests are going to contribute their own dishes to the party, then make sure to keep a close eye on what everyone’s bringing so that you can avoid making too much food or accidentally having the same dish served up twice or thrice.
Make a green Thanksgiving a group effort
Let your friends and family know that this year’s Thanksgiving theme is sustainability! Request that guests bring dishes in reusable containers rather than disposable ones, challenge them to pile their plates with only as much food as they can eat to help cut down on wasted food, and make sure everyone knows where the recycling and compost bins are.
Make things from scratch when possible
The production and packaging account for around 83 percent of greenhouse gas emissions associated with food. Making food from scratch rather than purchasing ready-made items is a great way to lower your carbon footprint.
Take stock of ingredients you already have
Before heading out to the market, go scavenging in your own cupboards—chances are you’ll find some of the ingredients on your grocery list hiding in the back of your pantry.
Choose recipes that will use up leftover ingredients
It may take a bit more strategizing, but if you decide to go with a recipe that calls for half a container of broth, then keep that in mind for another recipe that you will use the rest, either for the same meal or for lunch in the coming week.
Leave dishes that are proven duds off the menu
Try to think back on Thanksgiving dinners past and take note of which dish seems to be everyone’s least favorite. Consider saving yourself some time by making less of it this year or skipping it altogether.
Clean out the freezer and fridge before you shop
Make sure that you create some space in your fridge before occupying yourself with your Thanksgiving feast. This will ensure that you’ll be able to access the ingredients you need quickly and will also make it less likely for leftovers to get lost and forgotten once it’s all said and done.