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Reducing Your Thanksgiving Waste

Updated: Dec 9, 2019

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Time to dust off old family recipes and search for just the right turkey to make this year’s meal the best yet. But for every leftover roll and spoonful of dressing that goes uneaten, the idea of food waste – and steps you can take to reduce it – should begin before you start the search for that perfect bird.

The USDA estimates more than 30 percent of groceries in the U.S. get thrown out every year. Think about how much food you waste during the holiday season!

Here are a few, easy ways you can reduce your food waste and still have the best Thanksgiving ever:

Make a grocery list. The first step is as simple as taking the time to sit down and make a list instead of hoping you’ll remember everything you need to feed everyone. Using recipes, check to see what you already have and what you’ll need to buy. This helps keep you from making multiple trips to the store, buying items you don’t need and preparing more food than necessary (and is likely to go to waste).

Get creative with leftovers. Instead of tossing leftovers in the trash, or doing the same turkey and cranberry sandwich every year, try to come up with a new meal. Yams a la turkey? Cranberry surprise? A quick internet search can yield many creative leftover ideas and recipes!

Have guests bring reusable containers. Instead of keeping all of the leftovers for yourself decorate containers for your guests to take extra food home with them or ask your guests to bring their own reusable containers so you can share the wealth. You’ll throw away less food and your guests will have something to snack on the next day

Give non-perishable food items for gifts. Chocolate, fudge and cookies are great gifts during the holiday season, but often times some of it ends up in the trash. Skip the perishable food items this year and give a soup, cookie or cake mix that can be used anytime of the year.

Sign up for Brown County’s Resource Recovery Food Waste Program. If you do end up with leftovers, don’t throw them away. Consider joining our Food Waste Collection program. Residents collect items like meat scraps and bones, fruit peels and food contaminated items like napkins, paper plates and pizza boxes and drop it off at a collection site to be composted. Registration is free. Sign up at:

Taking the extra time to put these ideas into practice is something everyone can be thankful for!

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