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Simple Ways to Have a More Sustainable Thanksgiving

Posted November 10, 2022

On the fourth Thursday of November, families across the United States will come together to give thanks and enjoy copious amounts of turkey, stuffing, football, and pumpkin pie. For many, Thanksgiving can be a time of overindulgence, but it’s important to keep this in check by working toward reducing waste and having an all-around more sustainable holiday. It’s possible to have a bountiful holiday celebration without throwing excess food in the trash.

According to the EPA, food waste accounts for 20% of what goes into landfills. With a little extra planning and mindfulness about your holiday meal, you can help to reduce the amount of organic matter that ends up in landfills.

1. Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator and Pantry

Not only will cleaning out your fridge and pantry help to reduce stress while preparing a large meal, but doing this will also allow you to take inventory of your ingredients. Shopping in your fridge and pantry can help you avoid purchasing items you don’t need, ultimately reducing unnecessary waste.

2. Use a Food Planning Calculator to Create Your Shopping List

When meal planning for a larger group, it can be tricky to determine how much of what to buy. Food planning calculators are a helpful resource for figuring out how much food you will need to feed everyone without overdoing it.

3. Repurpose Leftovers

Some may argue that leftovers are actually the best part of Thanksgiving. If you do anticipate having leftovers, make sure to have plenty of storage containers to package them up for yourself or your guests.

Instead of tossing turkey bones and leftover vegetables, consider using them to make homemade stock. You can use this nutrient-dense stock later to make soups or sauces. You can also freeze leftovers to enjoy later. Store your leftover turkey, stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and gravy in freezer bags to avoid food waste. 

4. Compost Scraps and Leftovers

When you can’t find a use for scraps or leftovers, compost them. It’s helpful to have separate containers during meal prep to sort compostable material from non-compostable material. Toss your vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells, and gourds into a container to add your GEOBIN® Composter. By composting this organic material, you’ll be diverting waste from landfills and providing your compost with valuable nitrogen-rich material. You can also compost unbleached paper products, which provide much-needed carbon to your compost.

What You Should Compost

What You Shouldn’t Compost

Compost With Caution

Vegetable & fruit scraps like potato and carrot peels, winter squash shells, lettuce, onions, citrus peels, apples, and tomatoes

Meat and bones: Difficult to break down and attract unwanted pests

Cooked vegetables: This is okay in moderation, but generally only if they were not cooked in fat.

Unbleached paper products

Fats, grease, lard, or oils: Attract unwanted pests

Cooked starches: Attract unwanted pests

Eggshells

Dairy: Attracts unwanted pests