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How to enjoy a zero-waste, eco-friendly Thanksgiving meal

Tips to reduce your impact on the environment around the holidays with fewer single use plastics and more meat alternatives.

SAN DIEGO — Aside from the full bellies expected after Thanksgiving, chances are you might also have some full trash bags. But there are ways to keep the waste to a minimum this holiday season, and still enjoy the food, drinks, and celebrations. 

For starters – and this first one is easy – ditch the paper plates and plastic utensils. You can use your normal cookware and dishware that’s likely dishwasher safe. You can also ditch the paper towels and napkins and opt for cloth that you can wash after the big meal.

Reduce, reuse, recycle. You’ve heard that before? Well, try reducing the amount of food you’re making, reusing the food that’s leftover for future meals, and then composting anything that’s left after that. Easiest way to do that is to always get a head count of who’s joining you so there aren’t tons of leftovers. Anything that is left should still have a purpose.

If you bought an extra can of green beans or cranberry sauce and it’s still unopened, consider donating it to a local food bank.

RELATED: Where to shop for Thanksgiving in San Diego for the best bang for your buck

Skip the meat as the main dish. Animal agriculture accounts for an estimated 15 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. There are now more meat alternatives than ever before, or if turkey is still the centerpiece, you can always opt for less meat than usual. 

The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that every year an estimated 200 million pounds of turkey are thrown out across the U.S. They add 150 million pounds of side dishes are tossed out too. 

So sometimes it can come down to something as easy as getting a more accurate head count for the celebrations ahead to make sure the food you’re preparing isn’t overdoing it. All these steps can help cut down on both the environmental impact and the cleanup time once Thanksgiving comes to an end.

RELATED: Working For Our Planet | Take the challenge to help improve the state of our planet

 

WATCH RELATED: First zero-waste grocery store in San Diego opens to the public (April 2022)

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