Holiday Feasting without the Waste: A Simple Guide
By: Lorelei Elkins
Sharing a meal has always been part of the human story – much more than merely taking in nutrients for survival. It is about sharing stories, bonding, and making new friends. Food traditions are an important part of the holiday season, one that many people look forward to most.
There is already a significant food waste problem in this country, but around the holidays we generate approximately 33% more food waste compared to the rest of the year. If you’re concerned about your impact on the environment, reducing food waste is one of the best things you can do to conserve natural resources, reduce energy consumption, and protect wildlife habitat.
Reducing food waste:
- Saves money by purchasing less food; buy only what you need.
- Reduces methane emissions from landfills, a powerful greenhouse gas.
- Conserves the energy and natural resources, (fossil fuel and water), involved in growing, processing, storing, and transporting food.
- Conserves energy and improves air quality by reducing the tonnage of waste hauled to the landfill by huge diesel trucks.
- Reduces the amount of natural area needed for landfills, and all the associated social and environmental issues.
Here are a few tips to keep food out of the waste stream:
- Encourage friends and family to take leftovers home.
- Try not to over-prepare food; make just enough.
- Plan ahead by making a list including amounts and shop for just what you need.
- Store leftovers in the freezer to enjoy later.
- Be mindful of older ingredients and leftovers you need to use up first.
- Cook what you already have at home before buying more.
- Learn the difference between sell-by, use-by, and expiration dates.
- For larger amounts of food, contact your local food bank to see which ones accept holiday meal leftovers.
- Compost everything you can; it’s easy and great for the environment.
- If you have friends who own chickens, they will likely take your table scraps!Chickens eat nearly everything.
- Practice this all year long, not only for the holiday season.
Most of our uneaten food and food scraps end up rotting in the landfills. The Natural Resources Defense Council shows that more than 100 billion pounds ends up being thrown away every year. Make a difference this holiday season and throughout the rest of the year by being mindful of food waste.