Reducing Food Waste During Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the  season to be grateful for the accomplishments and positive times throughout the year. This Thanksgiving season, let us try to give back and help sustain the earth and be thankful for the next coming year. According to statistics, Americans throw out an average of $277 million worth of food during the Thanksgiving season. The amount of wasted food that ends up in our landfill is enormous and is a continuously growing problem within the United States.  Here are some ways that we can help reduce food waste and make it possible to be both ethical and eco-conscious:

Consider downsizing the feast

Often times Thanksgiving is a celebration with a big family or big party but unfortunately, there will be many leftover and half-eaten side dishes as a result, that will end up in the trash can. One way to prevent having too much leftover food is to plan and  coordinate with your group on who brings what and who cooks what.  Doing this ensures that there is less going into the landfill. You can also reduce the risk of an abundance of leftovers by planning your recipes ahead of time, buying just enough of the necessary ingredients, and making proper conversions and measurements. In addition, you can minimize the quantity of leftovers by cutting recipes in half. If you have two salads but you also need an apple pie to accommodate your mom and a cherry pie to accommodate yourself, then try cutting the recipe in half if you plan to have multiple sides, dishes, and desserts. Starting from the beginning and cutting recipes in half will result in reduced portions of food and decreases the risk of leftover food going to landfill.

Go with more veggies this year

Over the years, turkey has been all the rage as tradition guides us, but this year you can try a more sustainable habit. Poultry, pork, and meat are collectively the largest producer of methane in the United States and the meat, egg, and dairy industry produce 65% of worldwide nitrous oxide emissions. By making the switch to vegetarian entrees, you can avoid contributing to the harmful emissions left as a residual consequence in the atmosphere. If you would like to keep things traditional with all the turkey and trimmings, consider reducing the amount of meat and poultry you will serve. Instead of buying two turkeys, one for family and the other for friends, consider buying just one and add to the dinner with vegetarian dishes combined with nuts and grains. With a broad range of vegetables and fruits, the possibilities for a wonderful feast are endless. You can visit out Pinterest page for further inspiration.

Reuse as much as possible

Thanksgiving is the season of football and turkey and with that, you have the option of either gathering around the game with loved ones or a sit down dinner. Regardless of the style of dinner, make sure to toss out those disposable plates and cutlery and opt for the fancy china or reusable everyday plates and flatware. An estimated 40 billion plastic utensils are used in the United States annually and the majority of those utensils are single use, meaning that they were used only for a matter of minutes before being tossed into the landfills where plastic takes up to 500 years to decompose. Opting for reusable plates, cutlery, and napkins can save you money and is an effective way of diverting unnecessary waste from the landfills.

Use To-Go containers

If you plan to have a dinner with your loved ones, ask them to bring their reusable container for leftovers. The food can go to other family members, loved ones, or given to those whom you personally know would appreciate a home cooked meal.  In California alone, 1 in 6 people struggle with hunger and food insecurity. Taking leftovers home and using reusable containers can help close this gap.


If you enjoyed your Thanksgiving dinner but you still have a ton of left overs, there is the likelihood you will tire of all the leftovers after a couple of days and will be tempted to order take-out, thus creating more food waste. Put a new twist on those leftovers and look at them in a new light. Thanksgiving leftovers are for all times of the day! Breakfast, brunch, and mid-day snacks. There is a variety of ways that leftovers can be revamped such as Thanksgiving cheesy stuffing breakfast cakes and turkey cranberry quesadillas. With leftovers, the possibilities are endless, but the main objective is to not waste food Food waste is a recurring issue in the United States, and an effective way of preventing this  is by not throwing away left-overs or letting them go bad. By coming up with new and innovative ways to revitalize our leftovers, we are closing the gap to the problem of food insecurity. You can also visit the LARA  Pinterest board for further inspiration.


After everything is said and done and you finish up with the leftovers and diverted single use plates and utensils from landfill, there is the question of what you can do with the food scraps. Fear not because we have the solution: Composting! Approximately only about 3% of food scraps in the United States are composted. All the uneaten food and food scraps that go into landfill account for nearly 25% of the methane gasses produced in the United States. To avoid contributing to the harmful gasses, here is a list of compostable items and food scrap that may be  left over from your Thanksgiving dinner.

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