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Tips for Planning a Sustainable Holiday Meal

Tips for Planning a Sustainable Holiday Meal

Getting together to celebrate a holiday during this joyous season can be fun. It typically involves a gathering of people and more than likely food and drinks. You can have fun and consider the environment at the same time. Avoiding waste and being considerate of mother nature is simple if one keeps it top of mind when planning and during a celebration.

Here are some tips to ensure you are being mindful of the environment as you plan your holiday meals this season


Consider using natural materials like leaves, fruits, or flower clippings to make your home feel festive. Using nature as inspiration to be the centerpiece at your table, for example, is a wise way to eliminate the need to purchase wasteful, single-use items. Using nature’s vibrant color palette can also be stunning and complement your food and drinks. Get some inspiration for natural decorations from The Cottage Market.

Meal Planning

Once you know your guest list, make a meal plan and write a shopping list. With help from Save the Food‘s Guest-Imator, determine how much food to purchase so you don’t buy excess, which may result in food waste.

Shop Locally and Seasonally

When you can support local farms and buy what is in season, it reduces the distance your food must travel from farm to plate. You can learn about what’s in season and available in your area by checking out Cook with the Seasons.

Consider Less Meat and More Plant-Based Menu Options

Meats are massive contributors to greenhouse gasses and when we can avoid meat and replace it with plants, we are reducing our carbon footprint. Find some interesting plant-centric recipes from Planted365.

Reduce Plastic Waste

Set the tone for a low-waste get-together by asking your guests to bring their own reusable containers, so you can send them home with leftovers. Alternatively, make sure to have compostable takeout containers, like World Centric’s Store & Go Containers to provide your guests with plant-based options that can be composted in a commercial facility.

Avoid Single-Use Plastics

If you are opting for disposable tableware, single-use plastic items are unfavorable as they can be challenging to recycle. If it is coming into contact with food, compostables are the best choice, as you can compost them along with any residual food residues. Truly recyclable items are another good consideration, such as items made from aluminum or glass. Make sure to rinse them before recycling, which makes for a higher quality recyclable.

Reduce Food Waste

Get creative with food scraps and leftovers. Try to use all your ingredients. For example, you can make stock out of left-over turkey bones or vegetable stock with vegetable peelings. Further, try to make new dishes out of your leftovers so you don’t get bored of the same meals, like making turkey enchiladas or scrambled eggs with some leftover veggies.

Donate Your Edible Leftovers

Don’t let edible food spoil. Find a local food bank that might be willing to accept your leftovers.

Freeze Your Desired Leftovers

If you want to save your food for consuming later, the freezer is your friend.

Compost Your Undesirable Food Scraps

Do not trash your food scraps. Food waste is the third-largest contributor to methane, a very potent greenhouse gas and is considered a short-lived climate pollutant. Compost your truly inedible food scraps so they can become a nutrient-rich soil amendment. If you don’t have a backyard compost system or access to a commercial composting service, consider donating your food scraps to a local farm for animal feed.

It’s not difficult factoring sustainability into your holiday celebrations if you just plan ahead. Then, enjoy your holidays even more knowing that you are doing your part to help protect the environment. Get more tips on reducing waste at Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season from WorldCentric.

About the Author

Erin Levine

Erin Levine is the resource recovery manager at World Centric. She has been involved with resource recovery for 18 years and in the last decade has focused specifically on the sales and marketing of finished compost. She has supported commercial compost facilities throughout the West Coast and has worked closely with the end users of compost, particularly the agricultural industry. Erin is a Certified Composting Professional through the US Composting Council and a Certified Compost Programs Manager through the Solid Waste Authority of North America.

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