Personally, I prefer to call the traditional fall meal a Harvest Feast. There is so much controversy surrounding the history of the “First Thanksgiving” as I was taught in American Schools. In Canada, there seems to be an emphasis placed on the First Nations People and their giving of thanks for the harvest that will see them through the winter months.
I thought I would share some ways that you can shift your get together towards being a more zero waste Thanksgiving celebration.
Did you know that in the US the following is wasted each year just from a typical Thanksgiving meal.
- 172 million pounds of turkey
- 14 million pounds of dinner rolls
- 29 million pounds of vegetable sides
- 30 million pounds of gravy
- 40 million pounds of mashed potatoes
- 38 million pounds of stuffing
Plan ahead for a Zero Waste Thanksgiving Meal
Food waste, if it were to be measured as a country, would be the world’s third largest country of green house gas emissions. Planning ahead for the amount of people and their dietary preferences is always a good idea. Don’t assume that everyone is going to take home left overs, or that they will enjoy the way you prepare the food. If they take the food home out of courtesy it may be zero waste for you, but if they end up tossing it, it is still waste.
When you are shopping, choose items with the last packaging and don’t forget your reusable bags!
Host a “Pot Luck Style” Thanksgiving dinner for less waste
To make this one work, make sure to keep track of who is bringing what. Having some sort of sign up would be optimal. Reasons why this style works is that it takes some of the stress of cooking and storing food from the host. You can ensure that people will cook things the way they enjoy it and there will be less that goes to waste. This can also be a fun way to explore zero waste Thanksgiving get together as you can pick different types of cuisines. I am not aware of any rule that says you have to have the traditional turkey and sides.
Growing up, my Dad’s side of the family used this style. My Grama would make the turkey and some of the side dishes. My Aunts would bring other dishes and deserts.
Zero Waste Ideas for Thanksgiving Left Overs
If you do have left overs, you can keep a stash of containers for people to take food home in. I keep and reuse almost everything, so I am usually the one who shows up to family meals with containers for everyone to take stuff home in. If you brought a dish, you can take home left overs in it. If you’re feeling brave enough, ask everyone to bring their own containers if they want left overs to take home.
Get creative. Stay away from the traditional plastic cling wrap and you’re on your way to a zero waste Thanksgiving Day.
What doesn’t get eaten, compost!
Zero Waste Thanksgiving Decor
You can keep your decor simple, yet elegant, by working in natural items.
Get creative and create a nature inspired look.
When you’re through, the natural items can be added to your compost.
Obvious Zero Waste Thanksgiving Choices
Skip the disposable plates and cutlery.
If you’re short on dishes or flatware, ask some friends or family if they have anything you can borrow to avoid needlessly buying more. If you will be using them in them in the future and can justify the need, check out thrift stores for pieces that go with what you have.
Use cloth napkins.
If disposable items are absolutely needed, opt for something compost-able.
Why should we strive towards a zero waste lifestyle? Read this post to find out more.