By Farah Stack
Thanksgiving is one of the most special times of the year where food brings friends and family together. But, it is also one of the biggest days of the year for food waste.
As much fun as it is making and baking the Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, bread rolls, casserole, and pumpkin pies, a large portion of all of this food goes straight into the trash. In fact, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates 200 million pounds of turkey meat are thrown out over the Thanksgiving holiday week.
For turkey meat waste alone, it costs the average American family about $293 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In the U.S., we will throw away about 305 million pounds of food on Thanksgiving Day alone. That is equal to the same weight as 11,500 school buses, according to ReFED. The amount of food waste generated is equal to 476,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
Just the food we waste on Thanksgiving Day could provide six meals to each of the 38.3 million Americans who are food insecure.
Thankfully, there are easy ways to cut down on food waste this Thanksgiving holiday. By being thoughtful about any decisions we make around food, we can truly make a difference in the amount of food wasted.
Tip #1: Check What You Have Before You Write Down What You Need!
When we make our Thanksgiving grocery list, we usually start with what we need, not what we have. This year, before making your grocery list, check around the kitchen to see what ingredients and food items you already have. This way, you are saving money, and extra ingredients from being wasted in the landfills. Once you have your list ready to go, grab your reusable, zero-waste grocery bags and shop local! Shopping locally can also help reduce your carbon footprint.
Tip #2: Purchase Food Accordingly
Calculate how much food you will need to serve each person attending at the dinner table. Make sure to keep track of the number of people attending and account for the side dishes and different appetite levels of each person. You can also try and check in with local food shelters to donate your leftover food. This way you are not only cutting down on food waste but helping the community!
Tip #3: Develop a Leftovers Strategy: We Love Leftovers and Composting!
Make sure to have BPA and BPS-free reusable containers to store any leftover food. Check in with guests to see if they would like to take any leftovers home with them. Pulp Pantry LOVES leftovers. Heck, we even made chips out of leftover fresh juice pulp! If you have any compostable leftovers or food scraps, compost them! Make sure you do not compost any turkey or other meat, and animal fats into your compost pile. Animal fats are hard to break down and can ruin your compost pile.
Tip #4: Share Food Waste Solutions With Friends, Family, and the Community!
One of the most important tools in addressing the issue of food waste and climate change as a whole is through collective and collaborative action. Working together with as many people as possible makes the most impactful change, and helps strengthen communities facing some of the most adverse effects of the climate crisis. So, post, share, tweet, text, and call your friends, families, and neighbors about food waste solutions this Thanksgiving holiday and everyday going forward!
We hope you're able to share the food & love with your community this season. Cheers!