Can you believe it is already November?! This year has flown by. It seems like just last week I was packing up our Christmas decorations and making New Years’ resolutions for 2019 and now it is almost time to get back into the swing of the holidays. The beginning of the holiday season is always exciting for me. If you’re like me, you are probably starting to make plans with family and friends, receiving invitations to holiday parties and starting your Christmas shopping to take advantage of all the great deals!
November is one of my favorite months. I celebrate my birthday over Thanksgiving weekend with an enormous and delicious meal. As excited as I am for my birthday slice (let’s be real, it will be slices!!) of pumpkin pie, I can’t help but think about the excess food and trash we create every holiday season. According to the National Resources Defense Council, six million turkeys ended up in landfills in 2016. In fact, the EPA estimates that household waste increases 25% during the holidays.
You know that we can make simple choices to reduce our impact, and as a Master Recycler, you are in a unique position to educate your family and friends on how to make the holidays less wasteful! Over the next couple of months, I will share some tips for hosting or attending holiday dinners that will help us have a more sustainable holiday season. This month we’ll focus on food waste. Please reach out if you have questions or any other tips to share!
Tip #1: Make less food!
This is probably the most effective thing you can do to reduce food waste this holiday season. Don’t get me wrong, I think leftovers are delicious. If you or your family look forward to the leftover turkey sandwiches, factor that in! Still, even the most diehard turkey fans can admit- there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Before shopping for your holiday dinner, consider how many people are attending and how much food you and your guests will actually consume. My mother makes a pistachio salad for every family dinner- and absolutely no one eats it. We could end this tradition and cut down on an entire dish that becomes food waste.
The National Resources Defense Council created this awesome tool that I cannot recommend enough: the “Guest-imator.” You plug in the number of guests you expect, the dishes you plan to serve, and how many servings of leftovers you want to save. The Guest-imator will calculate how much of each ingredient you need to buy to have enough food for your guests without the excess. This is such a great tool to decrease your food waste!! Check it out here: https://savethefood.com/guestimator/guests#guest-container
Tip #2: Use smaller plates
This tip is a bit sneaker than tip #1. We tend to fill whatever plate we are given, whether we will be able to consume all the food or not. Switch to a smaller sized dinner plate for your holiday dinners. Your guests will fill their plates and be much more likely to finish the food. They can go back for seconds or leave leftovers rather than scraps on their plate.
Tip #3: Store leftovers in upcycled containers.
Save the containers from the groceries you buy throughout the year. When holiday dinners roll around and you have loads of leftovers, pull out your old yogurt, salsa, and pasta sauce containers. Fill them up with the leftover food for storage and send the leftovers you won’t eat home with your friends and family. They can recycle the containers rather than returning them or using plastic baggies.
In our next blog post, I will focus on how we can reduce the carbon footprint of our holiday meals by making alternative ingredient choices! Hope you have a Happy November!