Thanksgiving is a tough holiday to go zero waste: with the arrival of many guests and the need to feed them all, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and end up buying and cooking more food than needed. You might see your recycling bins filled to the brim with cans and plastic from your kitchen endeavors. Here are a few tricks to keeping that waste low and maintain a zero waste holiday.
1. Aim for local produce and meat first. Supporting your local organic farm is a great way to green your meal and support your local environment. Visiting your local farm might even be easier to curb your shopping as well since vegetables like onions, potatoes, squash, and more don’t come in a pre-determined size that makes you buy in bulk. In addition, many local farmers markets, stands or farms don’t pre-package their vegetables, so bringing your own reusable bag to carry out those potatoes and squash helps you reduce your packaging waste at the same time.
Also, local farms might offer their own poultry, meats, and game. It’s better for the environment to find local meats, especially heritage turkeys versus industrialized Broad Breasted Whites.
2. Buy in bulk first. If you do have to go to the supermarket, try shopping in the bulk aisle first with your own bags and jars. If you shop with glass jars (which reduces the need to get disposable plastic bags), many stores will weigh your jars, so you don’t pay for the added weight. In all, you’ll spend less on spices and grains, and reduce your plastic. For some items–like beans that need to be soaked– shopping in bulk requires some planning ahead of your meal, but starting ahead of time is worth it.
Try to apply bulk thoughts to other Thanksgiving needs to reduce waste, for example, you can get growlers of beer from your local brewery, boxed wine, or gallons of local cider to reduce waste from bottles and cans.
3. Share the love with leftovers. It’s okay to end up cooking more than you can eat, especially on Thanksgiving, as long as you share it with your guests. Pack away foods in clean glass jars or plastic containers for friends and family to take home. In addition, you can also check with local food shelters about food donations: even with some shelters having very strict guidelines on cooked food and perishables, you might find cans of cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie filling that a shelter would love to use.
Your table can be overflowing with yummy goods, but you can also be thankful for the low waste by following these tips.