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Plastic-Free Living

How To Reduce Thanksgiving Food Waste

November 11, 2019


Written by: Natalie Henderson, Marketing @blueland

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is often centered around food. We all love the holiday’s classic dishes, but cooking large Thanksgiving meals often creates a lot of waste. According to MarketWatch, Americans throw out $1.65 billion worth of food every year, and about $293 million of that is just from Thanksgiving. Over 200 million pounds of turkey are likely to be thrown away this year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation states that the amount of food waste generated is equal to 476,000 metric tons of CO2 emitted. That is a lot of food waste and a large carbon footprint! This Thanksgiving, cut down on waste with a few helpful tips: check your inventory, shop local, start composting, give back and store sustainably!

Low Waste Grocery List

When we make our Thanksgiving grocery list, we usually start with what we need, not what we have. This year, before you start making your list, check your refrigerator and pantry to see what items you already have. You might have more than you think, and it can help cut down on a lot of waste if you don’t buy duplicate items. Once you have taken stock of what you have, make sure that you make a list and stick to it! You can save money and reduce waste by avoiding extra items that you don’t really need. Once you have your list ready to go, grab your reusable grocery bags and shop local!

Low Waste Grocery Shopping

If you can, shop local for Thanksgiving groceries. It can help you cut down on your carbon footprint and help you only buy what you need. Produce from a farmer’s market is fresher and comes to you from a close distance. This means it takes fewer carbon emissions to get the food to you. If you don’t have access to a farmer’s market or other local produce, consider buying produce for Thanksgiving from Imperfect Foods or Misfits Market. Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market take produce that would otherwise go to waste and ship it directly to your home.

Composting Thanksgiving Food Scraps

If you don’t already compost, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to start! All of your food scraps from fruits and vegetables are the perfect beginnings for your compost pile. Make sure you have enough greens and browns for your pile, meaning use a mix of fruit and vegetable scraps, yard waste and even some paper or cardboard. Make sure you water your compost pile, and you will be all set. Just don’t throw any turkey or other meat or poultry scraps into your pile. Animal fats are hard to break down and can spoil a compost pile. If you can’t compost at home, look for a local composting facility to drop off your food waste.

Composting your Thanksgiving food scraps is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. If food is composted instead of going to a landfill, it will not release any harmful carbon or methane gas emissions. In addition, your compost can be used as a natural fertilizer. Composting food scraps is a great way to cut down on your carbon footprint!

What To Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers

Leftovers are plentiful over the holidays, so if you made too much try to coordinate with a local shelter to donate your leftover food. Not all shelters are able to receive food that isn’t packaged, so make sure you check before bringing it over. Before you start cooking, be sure that you need all of the ingredients you are using because if you leave them packaged, they are easy to donate. Save any leftover packaged or canned food to donate to local shelters and food banks. You can cut down on waste and help the community!

How To Sustainably Store Leftovers

Inevitably, you will have Thanksgiving leftovers, and the best way to reduce your food waste is to eat them! When you store your leftovers do so sustainably. Use glass containers, try using bowls and covering them with plates and look for jars to reuse. If you are having guests for dinner, ask them to bring their own containers for leftovers to take home. That way you can spread the leftovers and reduce waste. Make this Thanksgiving about giving thanks, not making waste.


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