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Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling Food Waste During the Holiday Season

5 min read

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and, unfortunately, increased food waste. From Thanksgiving feasts to Christmas dinners and New Year's parties, the amount of food that goes to waste during this time of year is staggering. During this period, the United States experiences a 25% surge in waste generation, with a notable 21% of this waste comprising food, as reported by The Ecology Center. During Thanksgiving week alone, Americans throw out roughly 200 million pounds* of turkey meat, along with 30 million pounds of gravy and 14 million pounds of dinner rolls*. When food waste ends up in landfills and decomposes it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is up to 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

However, there are steps both businesses and consumers can take to reduce, reuse, and recycle food waste, not only to minimize the environmental impact but also to save money. In this blog post, we'll explore strategies for tackling food waste during the holidays and highlight some tools and companies that can help.

1. Plan Your Meals Carefully

Before you even start cooking, plan your holiday meals thoughtfully. Create a detailed shopping list that takes into account the number of guests, their dietary preferences, and portion sizes. Tools like digital meal planning apps and websites can help you organize your meals efficiently, reducing the likelihood of overbuying and food spoilage.

2. Embrace Sustainable Packaging

When shopping for holiday ingredients, look for products with eco-friendly packaging or even package-free options at stores. Find a list of package-free grocery stores across the United States here. After your holiday feasts when you are storing leftover food consider eco-friendly food storage options like reusable beeswax food wraps offered by companies like Bees Wrap, which can help you reduce plastic waste during food storage. 

3. Use Your Leftovers Creatively

One of the most effective ways to reduce food waste is by creatively reusing leftovers. Transform turkey into turkey pot pie or cranberry sauce into a delicious glaze for roasted vegetables. Apps like "Yummly" and "SuperCook" can help you discover recipes to make use of ingredients you have on hand.

4. Share and Donate

According to the USDA, more than 44 million people in the US face hunger, including 1 in 5 children. This holiday season consider sharing excess food with friends, family, or neighbors, or donating to local food banks or shelters. Organizations such as “The FarmLink Project” connect farmers or supermarkets that have surplus food to food banks, so that excess food does not go to waste. Also, apps like "Too Good To Go" enable businesses with surplus food to sell to consumers at discounted prices, reducing food waste and helping those in need.

5. Compost the Inedible

Some food waste is inevitable, such as peels, bones, and other inedible trim. Composting these scraps not only diverts them from the landfill but also creates nutrient-rich soil for your garden. Companies like “Bokashi Living” offer small-scale home composting solutions for both indoor and outdoor settings or you could consider food waste dehydration options, including “Mill”, which turns post-consumer trim into chicken feed 

6. Reduce Single-Use Items

The holiday season often involves an abundance of single-use items like disposable plates, cutlery, and napkins. Choose reusable options, like bamboo cutlery and cloth napkins, or explore companies that offer biodegradable and compostable alternatives to traditional disposables.

7. Mindful Shopping and Portion Control

Overindulgence is common during the holiday season. Encourage portion control at gatherings by avoiding buffet style meals, and educate guests about the environmental impact of food waste. Tools like "Portion Calculator" apps can help you estimate food quantities more accurately.

8. Track Your Progress

Consider using apps like "NoWaste" or "FoodKeeper" to track your food consumption and waste. These apps can help you become more aware of your food habits and set achievable goals for waste reduction.


The holiday season doesn't have to be synonymous with excessive food waste. By planning, reusing, and recycling food, we can all take steps to reduce our impact on the environment while saving money and resources. With the help of innovative tools and the support of companies committed to sustainability, you can enjoy the festivities guilt-free, knowing you're doing your part to minimize food waste during this joyous season.

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