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A Guide to a Waste-Free Thanksgiving

A Guide to a Waste-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, and festivities. But it can also be a time for excessive waste, from food to packaging. Considering this, here's how to create a more sustainable Thanksgiving celebration without sacrificing any of the joy or deliciousness.

Step One: Thoughtful Planning

  • Confirm Your Guest List
    • Knowing how many people will be attending is the first step to eliminating food waste. Once you have your headcount, you can proceed to the next steps with a clearer focus.
  • Food Preferences
    • Reach out to your guests for their top three preferred dishes. This way, you only prepare food items that will definitely be consumed. Popular dishes should make the cut, while less requested items can be saved for another occasion.
  • Portion Control

Step Two: Choosing Your Recipes Wisely

To maximize efficiency in your kitchen and minimize waste, opt for recipes that share common ingredients. This approach not only streamlines your grocery list but also ensures that nothing goes unused. Furthermore, consider recipes that make use of an entire food item. Take cooking a turkey, for instance: you can use the giblets to make a delicious gravy. By making smart choices in recipe selection, you set the stage for efficient and waste-conscious grocery shopping.

Step Three: Smart Grocery Shopping

  • Pre-Shop Prep
    • Aim to either have a near-empty fridge before you do your Thanksgiving shopping or utilize fresh ingredients that you already in your fridge or pantry. This can help reduce the risk of food spoiling and going to waste.
  • Shopping List & MyEcoWorld® Bags
  • Pick the "Ugly" Produce
    • Choose fruits and vegetables that may be nearing their "sell-by" date or are cosmetically imperfect. They're perfect for recipes where looks don't matter.

Picture of vegetables at grocery store.

Step Four: Conscious Cooking

  • Separate Your Waste
    • Before diving into your cooking, set up separate containers for trash, recyclable materials, and compostable waste.
  • Broth from Scraps
    • Utilize bones and vegetable scraps to make your own broth. This not only reduces waste but also enhances the flavor of your dishes.
  • Use MyEcoWorld® Compostable Bags

Step Five: Eating Mindfully

  • Start Small
    • Begin with smaller portions. You can always go back for seconds or thirds but try to not take food that you won't end up eating!
  • Leftovers
    • Despite all the planning, you'll probably still end up with leftovers. Store them in reusable, glass containers.
    • Thanksgiving leftovers can also be used for meals in the following days!

Step Six: Responsible Disposal

  • Composting with MyEcoWorld® Bags
    • Items You Can Compost: 
      • Bread or roll crumbs
      • Uncooked vegetable trimmings (e.g., onion skins, bell pepper cores)
      • Fruit scraps (e.g., cranberry skins, orange peels)
      • Corn cobs and husks
      • Fallen leaves (a good source of 'browns' for your compost pile)
      • Leftover cooked vegetables (without butter or oil)
      • Coffee grounds from after-dinner coffee
      • Plain paper plates (as long as they haven't been soiled with grease or oil)
    • Items You Cannot Compost:
      • Gravy
      • Stuffing (if it contains fats, oils, or meat)
      • Dairy products like butter and sour cream
      • Cooked foods with oil, butter, or meat content
      • Plastic utensils
      • Aluminum foil
      • Any form of packaging, unless specifically marked as compostable and accepted by your local facility
      • Desserts like pie (due to high sugar and fat content)
  • Steps to Take for Composting
    • Segregate Waste: After your feast, divide waste into categories.
    • Compostable Bags: Place compostable items in bags designed for composting, like those from MyEcoWorld®.
    • Home Composting: If you compost at home, add these items to your pile, following your standard procedures.
  • Local Facility:
    • If you don’t compost at home, take the bags to a local composting facility or drop-off point for organic waste.
  •  Recycling
    • Remember to rinse and sort recyclable materials like glass, metal, and certain plastics.
  • Donations
    • If you find that you have an excessive amount of unopened, non-perishable items, consider donating them to a local food bank.

Step Seven: Reflect and Learn

  • Audit Your Waste
    • Take a moment to assess the amount and type of waste generated. This information will be invaluable for planning more sustainably in the future.
  • Feedback Loop
    • Before everyone leaves, get their feedback on the meal and particularly on the efforts to minimize waste. Your guests may have insights or suggestions for next time.

For Further Information, We Love These Articles

If you're looking for more information and tips on sustainable living, here are some articles that we enjoy:

  • "Tips to Reduce Food Waste at Thanksgiving" by Jean Buzby, USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison: This article offers actionable tips for reducing food waste during the Thanksgiving season. Published by the USDA, it focuses on food and nutrition, health and safety. Read more here.
  • "Thanksgiving Composting" by the Compost Queen: A deep dive into the nitty-gritty of composting, particularly around the holiday season. This article is perfect for those who are interested in understanding the science and methodology behind composting. Read more here.
  • "How To Reduce Thanksgiving Food Waste" by Natalie Henderson on Blueland: This piece explores how to reduce waste specifically during Thanksgiving. The article provides valuable insights and strategies. Read more here.
  • "Your guide to a Thanksgiving dinner without food waste" by Rachel Feltman on PopSci: This comprehensive guide offers tips and tricks on how to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner without wasting food. Read more here.

Feel free to explore these articles for more knowledge and inspiration. Every bit of information helps in making your sustainable journey more meaningful.


Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a burden on the planet. By implementing these practices, you make a meaningful contribution toward reducing waste and its environmental impact. It requires some thoughtfulness and slight changes in habits, but the result is a celebration that honors not just our loved ones, but our home — Earth. Thanks to products like MyEcoWorld® compostable food scrap bags, taking these steps is easier than ever.

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