University of Florida

Reducing Thanksgiving Waste

While Thanksgiving is meant to give thanks and show appreciation for the food plated on dining tables, this holiday can result in a lot of waste. Fortuantely, this doesn't have to be the case.

When carving the turkey and making memories with loved ones, you can also keep sustainability in mind. Follow these recommendations to reduce waste this holiday.

  • Think about how much food you realistically need to avoid cooking too much. Make a list based on your plan, and use it while grocery shopping.
  • Buy food and other holiday necessities in bulk, if possible, to reduce packaging waste. Buying products with refillable containers is also a resourceful way to reduce waste.  
  • Take advantage of reusable dishes and cutlery during Thanksgiving dinner.
  • If you’re having guests this holiday, make it easy for them to recycle in your home.
  • When decorating the house, recycle each year's decorations or be creative and make a centerpiece of what you already have.
  • Thanksgiving dinner often results in leftover food—safely store leftovers in clean, used jars, jugs, and cans. You can also pack food in recyclable containers and give them to family and friends.
  • Donate untouched leftovers to a food bank or homeless shelter.
  • Leftover food can also be composted.  
  • Continue to enjoy Thanksgiving leftovers by creating new meals and recipes. For example, leftover turkey can be used in soups, sandwiches, and salads.

For more information on reducing waste throughout the year, visit the EPA.

Adapted and excerpted from:

Frequently Asked Questions: Holiday Waste Prevention,” Stanford University Buildings & Grounds Maintenance (Accessed 11/2014).

Reducing Food Waste During the Holiday Season,” Worldwatch Institute (Accessed 11/2014).

Tips for Reducing Waste During the Thanksgiving and Winter Holidays,” EPA (Accessed 11/2014).

thanksgiving table

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