Reducing Food Waste on Thanksgiving

by Emma Overholt

Reducing Food Waste on Thanksgiving: Expand your waist while reducing your waste

Did you know that 150,000 tons of food goes to waste in America per day? Additionally, over 240 million pounds of turkey alone is wasted each year after Thanksgiving. All of that food ends up in the landfills (if not composted), contributing to methane gases. Our Education & Outreach team recently hosted an event all about reducing your food waste on Thanksgiving. These small steps will allow you to make your feast more sustainable and eco-friendly!

1. Avoid buying too much food

Simply put, the easiest way to reduce waste is to not buy huge amounts of food in the first place. Be conscious of how many guests you are hosting, and how much they normally eat. If you are hosting, try to get a head count of your guests and adjust your grocery list accordingly. However, if you are bringing a dish to an event, communicate with the host about the amount of guests so you don’t bring too much food.

2. Use leftovers and create your own compost

This tip is tricky and requires a little more expertise. For healthy compost, its best to use mostly plant materials. Don’t worry, healthy compost shouldn’t cause any sinister smells.  Compost helps fertilize the soils and encourages plant growth! The EPA also has a great guide on composting tips.

(This information is from a pervious blog post you can visit here.)

3. Serve smaller portions

Most Thanksgiving dinners have a multitude of dishes to chose from. Try decreasing portion sizes when serving your self, so you don’t fill your plate with excess food. Remember: you can alway go back for seconds

4. Consider vegetarian or vegan options

The actual food waste itself is only a small portion of the problem. Choosing a vegan or vegetarian can minimize water consumption, carbon dioxide, and fossil fuel emissions. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimated in 2013 that $277 million worth of turkey ended up in the trash after Thanksgiving. You can also adopt a turkey by visiting Farm Sanctuary, an organization allowing Americans to honor the spirit of the holiday by helping animals in need.

5. Use your leftovers and turn them into a new dish

This is by far the most creative and fun solution to excess food waste. It can be mundane to eat turkey or cranberries for the entire week after Thanksgiving, but try using the leftovers to make something new. Here are some delicious meals that can take your leftovers to a new level.

  • Pot pie with leftover protein and veggies
  • Creamy vegetable stew with mixed vegetables and rice
  • Hand-pies with protein stuffing and gravy for dipping
  • Breakfast with mashed potato waffles and syrup

At our event, we made homemade waffles out of mashed potatoes! To make this delicious breakfast-dinner hybrid, check out our favorite recipe here.


Photos via Rawpixel on Unsplash





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