The holidays are filled with cheer and laughter and too many presents to count. But, if you ask me what my favorite part of the season is, I would have to say the food. Turkey, mashed potatoes, ham, greens, pie, cookies; I love it all.
But that creates a major problem.
No, I’m not talking about the fact that my pants might get a little too tight. The biggest problem with holiday eating is food waste.
We spend hours, even days, preparing meals and desserts to make sure that no one leaves hungry from our Holiday meals. Sometimes we also have small celebrations with our friends or more distant relatives. We might have a potluck or two at work on top of it all. There is no possible way for all of this food to be eaten even if we send everyone home with to-go plates. That means our trash cans fill up just like our bellies do.
Food waste is a major contributor to overfill containers and contaminated recycling during every season. Couple that with overeating and overpreparing during the holiday season and it turns into the giant elephant in the room. The NRDC estimates that 40% of food in the U.S. goes uneaten while 1 in 8 Americans go hungry. Those numbers jump during the holiday season, which is also one of the most difficult times of the year for the poor and homeless.
That’s not the end of the effects of food waste, either. Food waste contributes to greenhouse gasses, deforestation, and the depletion of water sources across the globe.
No matter how you slice it, food waste is a problem, so what can you do during your busy holidays to curb this?
Instead of making enough for double your guest count, make exactly how much you know you will need with maybe a little left over for a few to-go plates. This means buying less and following recipes closely.
If you have the room and ability, composting is always a good bet. If you can’t compost in your home, consider signing up for a composting service that will take your food waste off your hands similar to how your trash and recycling is picked up. Some cities even have composting systems in place for their residents at no extra cost.
Give the Extra Away
There is always someone who could use some more food in their bellies. It may be as easy as gifting the person you walk past everyday on your way to work a plate of their own. You may know a struggling family that would light up at a few to-go plates of fresh holiday fare. What about your mailman, trash collector, or even your dog walker? You can also check out local food pantries and homeless shelters to see if they will take it off your hands.
These options can help limit the amount of food waste you create this season relatively easily. Keep that elephant out of the room and still have a joyous, filling holiday meal. Happy Holidays!