How to Create a Sustainable Style Thanksgiving

How do you have a beautiful Thanksgiving feast with as little waste as possible? It’s not as hard as it may seem. Often times you find yourself standing in the store looking over all the holiday decorations to fancy up your table for the big day, but did you know you can decorate way more for way less! Hopefully this article will help you snag a few new ideas to spruce up your Thanksgiving.

Let’s talk about the dinnerware. So, what do you use to eat from, that fancy china that has been handed down from generation to generation or those dollar tree paper plates? First thing you want to consider is how many people are attending your dinner and how formal you want it to be. If you are having a sit-down meal and don’t want the expense of buying paper products you should totally go for the fine china. However, if you are looking for an easy clean up, that is eco friendly and looks nice too, try looking into biodegradable plates from your local grocery store. They are likely to have sturdy plates that are up to the task of holding all that yummy food and are pretty in design too. Most stores will have Fall themed plates that fit perfectly with the way your table is going to look by the end of this blog! Aside from your serving platters and dishes, go for the biodegradable plates!

So now that you have your plates covered what do you put on your table to decorate with splashes of color and keeping in the Fall theme? Most of you live in an area where in the Fall the leaves change, acorns drop, and pinecones fall so go outside and find your decorations. If you have kids take them with you and have a scavenger hunt. Gather different colored leaves, pinecones (watch for sap), acorns, anything that looks like Fall. Once you get that home place a neutral colored tablecloth down. You can use glasses or candle holders that you already have at home and put the pinecones and acorns in them and flip them upside down. Scatter the leaves around the table. When everything is over, you don’t have to worry about what to do with the plastic decorations anymore. You can just throw all the decorations outside. No more storage hassles either.

All that decorating aside what about the food? You spend all this time preparing all this food for a small army it seems but how do you prepare in a way that will reduce the amount of waste you have leftover? One thing you could do is when you are planning a meal look at your ingredients. Take time to carefully choose recipes that use many of the same ingredients. This will reduce overspending if you are shopping on a budget. Avoid impulse purchases too. If you don’t really need that pre-baked pumpkin pie because you are already having homemade apple pie that you asked someone to bring then don’t buy it. Certain foods you can prep ahead of time for the big day, this will not only save time but frustration as well. While you’re putting away leftovers into dishes you can effectively meal prep for the next few days.

You can freeze soups for quick and easy meals later down the road. Save that extra broth or stock because most foods will freeze better in liquid. You can put leftover shredded turkey in the broth and some veggies and freeze it in a container or sealable bag. If you know that you want to make a soup out of the meat or veggies but aren’t sure you want to buy the stock, that’s easy just save the scraps and trimmings. Those have the best flavor in them. If you have whole potatoes, you can smash them and throw them in the oven for a “smashed” potato snack or as a side to another meal. Sometimes guests will over pile their plates and not actually eat it all, so to prevent that side of the waste set out smaller serving spoons. If you really want to be organized, you can set up individual plates with servings already plated. Another way you can reuse that leftover stuffing is by baking that stuffing until its dry and crispy and use it as croutons for salads. Did you know there are even local places that might compost your leftovers for you if you don’t compost yourself? There are people that also take cooking oil and recycle it into biodiesel. Be sure to check around your area and find out what resources are available to you for recycling and composting. You can also donate any canned or boxed foods that you didn’t use to a local food bank. Around the holiday’s food banks are always in need of food donations. Don’t forget to give the pets a treat on Thanksgiving!

Lastly, when you are finishing everything and wrapping up the day, if you look at all the food that is leftover and you know that there is no way in Heaven you are ever going to be able to eat all of this food even if you freeze it, be generous. If you have tons of family over for the holiday, ask them if they want to take a dish home with them. If you feel super thankful and want to pay it forward, there are plenty of people who are in need. Especially during the holidays, it’s easy to forget that not everyone has a hot meal or family to spend the day with. Maybe you could check out a local shelter or an area where you know the homeless are prone to staying in your town. Take a few plates and put all the helpings on it, cover it with aluminum foil and head downtown. You have so much to be thankful for this holiday season so share the love and share a plate. For more sustainability tips, be sure to keep up with our waste management New England blog, and get in touch with us today for any waste management New England services.