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Celebrate Turkey Day The Sustainable Way

7 easy steps towards a more sustainable Thanksgiving dinner

What’s the first thing that you think of when you think of Thanksgiving?

For many, food comes to mind; and not just a little bit of food, a lot of food. Thanksgiving dinner for a large amount of the American population is the biggest meal of the year. According to a study reported by the New York Post, an estimated $277 million of food waste occurs during Thanksgiving and, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), 200 million pounds of turkey will be tossed to the wayside. That’s a lot of food waste. In a country where, the NRDC notes, 1 in 8 Americans go hungry, hosting a sustainable Thanksgiving dinner is no longer a niche “hippie thing;” it’s becoming a necessity.

Fortunately, practicing sustainability doesn’t have to equate to a boring Thanksgiving dinner. Here are seven simple things that you can do to have a more sustainable Thanksgiving meal:

1. “Shop” Before You Shop

Are you guilty of having duplicate ingredients in your refrigerator and pantry? Always sift through your fridge, pantry, and cabinets before making a trip to your local co-op grocer. Chances are you already have a sweet potato that is begging to be mashed and drowned in brown sugar.

2. Impeach the Turkey

Traditionally, the turkey has been the head honcho of the Thanksgiving meal. It is the star of the show, the belle of the ball. Try switching things up this year by buying a smaller turkey and by filling your table with more veggies instead. Not only are smaller turkeys cheaper, but they’re easier to manage in the kitchen and will create less waste in the long run. In addition, vegetables require fewer resources and energy to produce than meat-based products. As an added bonus, you won’t be as full by the time the pumpkin pie is served. It’s a win-win for the environment and for your stomach.

3. Ignore the Trash Can

Pretend your trash can doesn’t exist. Do you have leftover veggie scraps? Compost them or compile them for a delicious soup that can be frozen and used as an easy weeknight meal. Leftover turkey? Freeze it or toss it into a stew. If you’re going to freeze your leftover meat, separate it from the bones prior to freezing, and use the bones to create stock that you can then freeze to use in various recipes later on.

4. Sharing Is Caring

Have a leftover food swap! Some people aren't fans of leftovers, but if you're up to your ears in green bean casserole and your friend happens to have an entire sheet pan of untouched, roasted potatoes, come together for a lazy-yet-delicious meal the Friday after Thanksgiving.

5. Team Up

You know those recipes that call for one teaspoon of an herb that you will likely never use again? Chances are your friends will also need said herb for their Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of buying veggies and herbs with the intention of only using a little bit and shamefully resolving to watch the remainder rot in the fridge, make a game plan with a few of your friends, family members, or neighbors to pool your money together and share various ingredients. Not only will this save you money, but it will cut down on waste and, who knows, you may just continue the trend long after the holidays have come to a close.

6. Break out the Linens and China

Say no to plastic, styrofoam, and paper. If you can, avoid single-serving drinks, like plastic water bottles, as well. While it can be a pain to have to wash all of those dishes and linens, the waste reduction will be worth it.

7. Talk About It

There is a lot of pressure surrounding the Thanksgiving meal; especially for those who may be hosting for the first time. The expectations can be downright debilitating when you’re planning out your annual feast. Turn Thanksgiving into a learning opportunity for your friends and family. Explain why you opted for a smaller bird. Dive into why the table is adorned with vegetables and why you opted for only one kind of potato-based side dish this year as opposed to three.

Sustainability is important, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Racking your brain for some hearty veggie-filled side-dishes? Give this easy Kale Cranberry Salad recipe go and give yourself a pat on the back for embracing a more sustainable Thanksgiving holiday.

Sources:
http://nypost.com/2016/11/23/you-wont-believe-how-much-food-gets-thrown-...

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