Sustainable Thanksgiving Tips

The holiday season is upon us, which means lots of us are cooking and even more of us are eating. Whatever delicious dish we choose to create or consume, we need to evaluate our dinner tables and ask a difficult question: am I wasting anything? As in most industrialized countries, we may have the income to buy more food than we might necessarily need and therefore create unintentional food waste. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently found that Americans waste about a pound of food per day. You might be thinking, as I did when I first came across this statistic, “That’s just an average, I know I don’t waste that much food.” You may be right, but I’m going to invite you to consider all of the food you encounter in a week. Did you throw away a container of half-eaten Chipotle because you didn’t want to carry it around? Did you accidentally let a couple of bananas rot from your recent grocery run? Did you leave your Tupperware way in the back of the fridge, only for your roommate to rediscover its mutant form?

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Americans waste 40% of the food we buy and cook annually, and these numbers escalate during the winter holidays. Each year, millions of pounds of food are wasted since people throw them away or let them expire rather than eating them. Here are a couple of ways to conserve food during the holiday season!

1. Donate non-perishable items to shelters and drives

Unopened, canned foods are welcome at most drives and shelters, but check in with your local community centers to see what food items can be donated. The Pantry is free food resource which helps students in need to eat healthy.

2. Make sure food gets to everyone who needs it!

Instead of donating your food, you can volunteer your time feeding or cooking for those in need.There is an organization called the Food Recovery Network on campus that recovers uneaten and unsold food from the dining commons, area service desks, and the Memorial Union to feed those in need.

3. Look up Thanksgiving recipes for the day after

You can reuse parts of your Thanksgiving dinner by incorporating them into new recipes!

The most important part of Thanksgiving is to give thanks… or is it to appreciate the food? Either way, have a safe, sustainable, and delicious holiday season!