The holidays are just around the corner and we hope you’re looking forward to quality time with family and friends. For our American friends, this Thanksgiving, show your gratitude to Mother Earth by opting for a zero-waste Thanksgiving.
All it takes is a little extra planning and preparation to cut down on the waste you produce – from meals to decorations!
Buy Only What You Need
By far, one of the best things you can do to reduce waste this Thanksgiving is by buying only what you need. Lists are your friend, and a little preparation goes a long way to making sure you don’t end up with yet another container of baking powder. Check those hidden corners of your pantry and plan your recipes and shopping accordingly. Something about Thanksgiving make everybody go a little over the top with the food, and while you want to impress and entertain your visitors, consider if you really need that extra side dish that’s unlikely to keep well as leftovers.
Of course, when you go grocery shopping remember to bring enough reusable bags (including produce bags!), containers and Wax Wraps to limit purchasing goods with unnecessary packaging or plastic bags. Our new Waxed Sandwich Bags are also handy, especially when picking up vegetables that you can store directly in the fridge or when buying bread and rolls.
Buy Fresh, Local Ingredients
Opt to support local producers whenever possible to cut down carbon emissions from travelling and packaging. If you buy your veggies at the farmer’s market, they’re far less likely to come packaged in plastic and other wasteful wrapping. Again, don’t forget to pack those reusable bags, glass jars and Wax Wraps when you head out to the store! Bringing your own containers is an excellent way to cut down on waste from single-use items.
Avoid Single-Use Plates & Flatware
When you’re entertaining a large group for a meal, the idea of doing all those dishes can be daunting but remember there’s a price to be paid for the convenience of throwaway culture!
Real dishes, silverware and cloth napkins are the way to go. Consider asking guests to each bring their own set of cutlery – you may find they’re more likely to wash their own dishes if they know they’ll need to take them home as well. If disposable flatware is needed (and we get it, sometimes it is) try to buy plates and utensils that can be composted so the remains of your feast don’t linger on the planet.
Use Natural Decorations
Instead of store-bought knick-knacks and plastic wreaths, look to the bounty of Mother Nature for your decor items. Thanksgiving is part of a harvest celebration tradition, so what items are available locally or in your natural environment for decorations?
Corn husks, seeds, browning leaves and teeny tiny gourds can all come together to make beautiful arrangements! How about artfully creating snack bowls of fruit or vegetables instead of using a traditional centrepiece? Some leafy branches or flowers found around where you live can also be just lovely.
Take Care of Leftovers
Nothing says Thanksgiving like mounds and mounds of leftovers. While it may be tempting to leave them sitting out so you can deal with that food coma, remember that food spoils quickly at room temperature. Plan out your serving containers to use things like casserole dishes that have lids you can easily store, or pull out the reusable containers ahead of time so you’re not rooting around for mismatched lids while trying to entertain at the same time.
Your SuperBee Wax Wraps are also ideal for quick cleanup and storage – they’re pretty enough to leave out with your serving dishes and when everyone’s done, just wrap and store away. Send your guests home with some leftovers of their own (in reusable containers!), and look up some recipes online for fun things to do with your leftovers.
We’ve saved the most controversial item on our list for last. Consider doing a turkey-free Thanksgiving to be a little gentler on the planet this holiday. Farming protein takes a heavy toll on the environment, and when it comes to that supermarket turkey, it’s probably travelled hundreds of miles in heavy packaging to chill out in the butcher section, all at a big cost in carbon. Consider choosing a vegetarian turkey alternative, maybe try your hand at making homemade shepherd’s pie for the dramatic main dish instead. Baked squash or eggplant can also be show-stopping substitutes.
If your family thinks Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be the same sans turkey, then try to buy an earth-friendly, local, organically-raised bird. And after the meal, save those scraps! Turkey makes for great sandwiches or pot pies and more, while the bones will make excellent stock that you can freeze to use as the base of soups later. Don’t forget to compost everything that’s still leftover afterwards.
Whether you’re hosting a holiday feast at your house or just bringing a side dish around to your aunt’s, there’s plenty you can do to have an eco-friendly and zero-waste Thanksgiving.
We hope this has been a helpful list for tips on going zero-waste and being more green this Thanksgiving! What does your family do for zero-waste holidays? Let us know in the comments below!