Avoiding Thanksgiving Food Waste

Avoid Thanksgiving food waste

Thanksgiving is all about food, it’s undeniable, and therefore, so is the food waste. Every Thanksgiving, families throw out the equivalent of millions of turkeys. There’s an old adage that “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” and it is this concept that causes a lot of food waste, particularly at Thanksgiving. It’s time to start planning your Thanksgiving meal so that you shop for your stomach, not your eyes. Be realistic and avoid Thanksgiving food waste.

Thanksgiving food waste

Thanksgiving has been the one time a year when we all allow ourselves to eat to excess. However, it is possible to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal without bursting. You may be able to enjoy the whole evening if you don’t weigh yourself down by overeating. Not only is it terrible for all that food to go to waste, but you are also wasting a lot of other precious resources.

Avoid food waste
Ask guests to bring to-go containers to take home left-overs. Or, get a smaller turkey!

Thanksgiving food waste by the numbers

In 2016 it was estimated that roughly six million turkeys went to waste. That’s like throwing out $293 million and 100 billion gallons of water. In terms of wasted greenhouse gas emissions, raising and transporting these redundant turkeys to the store, your home, and then the dump is the same as driving your car across the country 800,000 times.

Reducing food waste at Thanksgiving

Planning your meal is going to help you reduce food waste. You also want to be realistic about how much you can eat. You don’t have to get the biggest turkey at the farm. A smaller turkey will also take less time to cook, using less energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Less food is good for the planet.

Buy ingredients from local farmers and ranchers

Shop for your turkey at a local turkey farm that uses humane practices. Buying an organic, free-range turkey is going to be smaller than a mass-produced turkey. It may not feel as big and impressive, but you will be able to finish it and eliminate a lot of waste. Shop locally for all of your ingredients. You’ll get fresher, more seasonal ingredients if you shop from a farmers market, and a Thanksgiving feast should be all about the season.

Make sides that everyone loves

Every Thanksgiving has a few traditions that can’t be overlooked. However, you can’t accommodate everyone. Try to avoid making too many side dishes to please everyone. All you’re doing is creating a lot of food waste.

Make stock

Avoid Thanksgiving food waste
Make stock from leftover bones and veggies.

Once you’ve pillaged the turkey carcass for meat for turkey sandwiches, make sure you utilize the carcass for homemade stock. You can probably also throw in a bunch of veggies that didn’t get eaten to flavor your stock. When you are planning the menu, think about making things that can be reused over the next few days instead of going to waste.

Make doggy-bags

Either make “doggy bags” for your guests as they go, trusting that they’ll bring back your reusable to-go containers. Or, ask your guest to bring their own containers to fill up when they go home. Everyone will appreciate a piece of pie or some leftover turkey the next day.

Sunrise Sanitation provides waste and recycling services to your home, business, and job-site in Maryland and West Virginia.

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