Guide To A Sustainable Thanksgiving

Pass Those Leftovers… to your Green Compost Cart! How to Have a Green, Sustainable Thanksgiving

According to a 2018/2019 grand jury report, 71% of all waste that is landfilled in San Mateo County is organic material such as food scraps, paper, and yard trimmings. And when it comes to the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, Americans throw out 25% more!

This is tough news to swallow, but you can help do your part by having a green, sustainable holiday season. Here are some tips to help you along the way to minimize food waste and your environmental impact.

  • Shop with a plan. Know how many people you’re expecting, think about portion sizes, and plan accordingly. 
  • Use up ingredients you may already have in your refrigerator before buying more. Remember that expiration dates on labels don’t always relate to food safety. They often are the food producer’s suggestions for peak quality. If food smells, looks and tastes okay, it probably is.
  • Coordinate recipes with friends and family so you don’t end up with 3 green bean casseroles (unless if you want 3 green bean casseroles!). Setting up a shared online document is a great way to simultaneously plan the meal with the friends and family you’re sharing the day with.
  • Prepare less by cutting recipes in half. If you can’t have Thanksgiving without sweet potato casserole, but also would like to make five other traditional side dishes, consider making a half recipe for one or most of the dishes, instead of full recipes. Tips for halving recipes can be found here and here.
  • Freeze vegetable and meat scraps to make homemade stock or broth at a later date.
  • Embrace ugly fruits and vegetables. That dented apple you use to make your famous apple pie will be equally delicious as its perfectly shaped counterpart.
  • Invite guests to bring reusable containers to take some of the leftovers home with them.
  • Enjoy the leftovers! Thanksgiving just might offer some of the best leftovers of the year. Enjoy them the next day or get creative with what’s remaining and develop some new, interesting recipes.
  • If there are any leftover food scraps or food-soiled paper items items from your holiday meal, make sure they all make their way into your green compost cart. Click here to review our compost tips and tricks and read below for more Thanksgiving compost pointers.

Easy Compost Tips for Your Thanksgiving Meal

  • Place a kitchen pail, bin, or paper bag next to your trash bin labeled “Food Scraps,” so your guests know exactly what to do with any leftovers on their plates. If you don’t already have a kitchen pail or need a replacement, order a FREE kitchen pail today from Recology San Mateo County.
  • Once you’re done making a wish with the wishbone, make sure it (along with any other bones) get tossed into the green compost bin.
  • Using paper napkins or plates for your Thanksgiving feast? When you’re done, those can all go into your green compost cart!
  • Did your pie come in a plain cardboard box? Uncoated or wax-coated cardboard is compostable—especially food-soiled or greasy boxes. If you have cardboard and paper packaging that is clean and dry, these can go in your blue recycling cart.
  • Due to possible increased volume during your Thanksgiving meal, consider using a double-bagged paper bag in lieu of your regular kitchen pail to minimize trips out to your green compost cart.
  • Brush up on your knowledge of which items go where by playing our interactive carts game. Have a question about a particular item? Ask our compost expert today!