Stay safe and waste not this Thanksgiving

Nov 10, 2020 - 10:26 am

"Family huddles around tablet to video chat with others at Thanksgiving table"

By Ashley Pace and Keri Greenwalt 

While the holidays may look different this year, there are still things you can do to enjoy your day and minimize waste in the process. So, make the most of it and be sure to follow the City of Austin’s holiday safety guidelines to protect yourself and your family as you zero waste your Thanksgiving this year. 

Be a mindful shopper 

  • It’s likely your dinner party will be smaller this year. Be sure you don’t make too much food that will only go to waste. This handy food calculator will help you estimate the amount of food you need based on size, hunger (how many guests prefer small portions or large portions), food spread and more. 

  • Choose to buy imperfect produce. Grab the oddly shaped carrots or slightly bruised apples that others are less likely to purchase and save them from the garbage pail. 

  • Opt to buy products that contain less packaging or those that come in recyclable packaging. 

  • Don’t forget your reusable shopping and produce bags. 

Set the table for zero waste 

  • If you're missing your local family this year, consider serving up a plate of hot food to your loved one(s) in a reusable container you can deliver with no contact. Then video call them to enjoy dinner together virtually.  

  • Or, you could even select a family recipe, send each family member the list of ingredients, then cook and enjoy your meal together virtually.  

  • Having fewer people at your table makes it even easier to break out the good china and ditch the one-time use plates or cutlery.  

  • Consider using cloth napkins. They reduce waste and add a little extra elegance to your meal. 

  • Create a centerpiece or other festive décor out of reused items that are already around your home. Make it more fun by doing the craft virtually with a friend or family member(s).  

  • Cook with reusable cookware, rather than disposable aluminum dishes. 

Waste nothing 

  • Realizing you bought more than you made? Drop off unused cans or groceries for donation at a local food pantry to keep it out of the landfill, and help those in need at the same time. 

  • Save the leftovers for a meal to enjoy on another day. There’s nothing like a Thanksgiving turkey sandwich with all the fixings. 

  • Use every piece of what you cook. Keep those turkey bones to make broth, baked potato skins for chips, etc.  

  • Compost what you can’t use. Turkey bones, fat, food scraps and leftovers that go bad before you can use them can be composted in your green curbside composting cart. If you don’t have curbside composting, some items like vegetable scraps can still be composted in other ways

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