You know the drill: A massive shopping trip, a flurry of cooking, a raucous feast with the people you love best. Then, leftovers as far as the eye can see. Turkey for days — in sandwiches, in soups, even in omelettes and tacos — until you’re all turkeyed out. Around Tuesday or Wednesday (or a few weeks later, if that’s how you roll), the tired, old leftovers go into the trash, the last vestiges of Thanksgiving relegated to the landfill.
It’s not surprising that household garbage — including food waste — increases by as much as 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. What is surprising is that in America, food is the largest category of waste in municipal landfills, and it releases an enormous amount of greenhouse gases as it decomposes.
The good news is that in 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an ambitious goal to cut domestic food waste in half by 2030. The feds want you — and every other American — to go from tossing 218.9 pounds of food in the garbage each year to throwing away just 109.4 pounds each.
And the holidays are a great place to start. COVID-19 has toyed with many a long-held tradition in 2020, so depending on your circle’s comfort level, you may be hosting a smaller crowd this year, or you may have more feasters than usual as nearby family members choose not to travel. Whatever the size of your Thanksgiving guest list, you can do your part to reduce the environmental impact of your get-together. Here, we’ve put together the most comprehensive guide on the Internet to help you plan and execute a beautifully sustainable Thanksgiving feast, from conception to clean-up — and beyond.