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The holiday season is all about coming together with family and friends to share food, laughs, and unforgettable moments, but we shouldn’t be filling landfills as we fill our stomachs! According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), American consumers waste up to one-fifth of the food that is available to them annually, which is bad for your wallet and for the environment. Read below to learn how you can do your part to reduce, reuse, recycle this Thanksgiving.


How to Reduce Holiday Food Waste

1. Plan Ahead

Prior to grocery shopping, take inventory of the items you already have in your fridge, cabinets, and pantry. Once you get an idea of the additional items you need, make a list and stick to it at the supermarket. Also, arrange who brings what ahead of time so you do not have multiples of the same dish, since you will have so much to feast on as it is. If you are worried about making someone feel left out by not including their favorite food, downsize each dish to smaller portions so you have less leftovers later.


2. Purchase Organic Ingredients and Use Everything

Buying fresh items over canned ones significantly reduces packaging waste, but can be easy to forget when you’re scrambling to put together the perfect dinner. Also, it may seem like a no-brainer to use up all the ingredients you purchase, but be sure to also fully utilize every part of the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner or nights to come.


3. Make Use of Leftovers

It can get boring to eat the same food over and over, but that doesn’t mean you have to toss the food out, though! You can donate untouched food to your local homeless shelter, repurpose dishes into something new, send some leftovers home with relatives, or freeze food to defrost and consume later. These are just a few ways to keep from wasting food.


4. Minimize Packaging and Paper Products

Buying food in bulk may seem wasteful, but if the items are non-perishable, bigger is better. Bulk items have less individual packaging to dispose of, reducing plastic and paper waste. Buying items that come in refillable containers is also a resourceful method to reduce waste. Instead of using paper napkins or plastic cutlery that will not decompose for decades to come, take advantage of cloth napkins, real dishes and dinnerware – you might have to do a little more washing, but it is better for the environment!


5. Decorate Differently

You used your decorations for maybe a month, so why toss them out only to repurchase them every year? Store decorations in tote bins so you can make use of them the next year, or create décor from items in nature and around the house. An arrangement of pine cones, acorns, and colorful leaves can act as the perfect conversation starter, while protecting the environment and your budget one centerpiece at a time.


6. Separate Trash from Recyclables

From childhood, we have been told to recycle, but as we get older, we tend to overlook what should be reused versus what should be thrown out for the sake of our convenience. Recycle every last cardboard box, wine or beer bottle and metal can used for your celebration. Be sure to set up separate trash and recycling bins so your guests know to do the same. Once dinner is over, visit your local recycling facility and let the experts take care of the rest!


Recycling in NJ

It is extremely important to reduce waste year round, but especially during the holidays when the lack of recycling reaches an all time high. Jefferson Recycling specializes in residential and commercial waste management, offering services such as recycling, dumpster rentals, demolition and onsite crushing options in the New Jersey area. If you are looking for more information on how to properly dispose of waste within your community, please contact us today.