Quick Tips for a Zero Waste Thanksgiving

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.

Zero Waste Thanksgiving TIps

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.

BUY LOCAL!
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

It’s fall!
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.

Is it time to Rethink “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”?

We can thank the environmental movements of the 1970s for the catchy “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” slogan. It is important to realize that while these events led to the creation of the EPA in the United States, and the founding of Earth Day, society has remained in the cycle of consumerism.

Reduce Reuse Recycle for a sustainable future

The following concepts can be applied to almost any type of item that creates waste from textiles to electronics, food to paper.

Rethink


The first step is to stop and rethink.
Do you really need it that item?
Can you change the way you shop in an effort to reduce waste?
Can you borrow the item?
Have you thought about the whole life cycle of the product?
What goes into making the item?
Where does the item end up in the world?

Refuse

Avoid buying products like single use plastic and that use excessive packaging.

Reduce

If you are not able to refuse, reducing your usage of waste-producing goods is the next step. This is the first “R” in the traditional “reduce, reuse, recycle” model.

Reuse and Repair

Simply stated, when you reuse or repair item for it’s intended purpose instead of rushing out to replace it you avoid the waste of the original product and the waste generated from obtaining the replacement.

Some of the most well known reusable items include shopping bags, cloth napkins and paper towels, reusable coffee pods … just a few of the numerous items that can replace single-use and disposable items.

Re-purpose

Similar to reusing, re-purposing uses the item for a different purpose. It can be something as simple as using an old metal bucket for a flower pot. The possibilities are endless!

Rot

If possible, compost organic matter as it creates methane gas in landfills. In my city, we are fortunate enough to have a city-wide composting program available. However, apartment complex landlords are not required to offer this service, especially when they opt for the dumpster instead of the bins.

Recycle

Check with your municipality, town or city for your specific regulations. Many retailers offer basic e-waste recycling. Be careful when buying items that you don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because something is recyclable that it’s free of consequences. While it’s great that an item can be diverted from the landfill, it doesn’t always end up being recycled. As consumers, we get tricked into buying more of an item and made not to feel bad because we think once it hits the recycling bin that the story is over.

In conclusion, the bottom line is that recycling should be the last step.
When teaching and talking about the three basic R’s, the other R’s -to rethink, to refuse, to re-purpose, to repair, and to rot – are important additions to the standard Reduce, Reuse, Recycle everyone knows.

It starts with rethinking your habits and considering the whole life cycle of the product.

reduce reuse recycle can we do more to be sustainable