The holidays are right around the corner. If this year’s big holiday meal is at your house, the following tips on sustainable purchasing, cooking and serving are just what you need as you prepare.
Buy in Bulk
If you are planning a meal for several people, buying in bulk is a great option that will save money and reduce packaging waste. One University of Portland study found that consumers could save up to 89 percent when purchasing bulk foods versus pre-packaged foods. In fact, if all Americans purchased some items in bulk for a year, the material savings would really add up on some items, including:
- Bulk coffee would save 240 million pounds of foil packaging waste.
- Bulk almonds would save 72 million pounds of packaging waste.
- Bulk peanut butter would save 7 pounds of landfill waste per family per year.
- Bulk oatmeal would cut packaging waste by one fifth.
Give your local economy a holiday gift by purchasing as many local foods as possible for your holiday feast. When you buy food locally, the money stays in your local community and with local farmers. This ensures farmers have a livelihood, which in turn preserves local farmland, related natural habitats and provides food security for the future.
Another reason to buy local is the impact of food travel. On average food travels 1,500 miles before reaching your plate. That’s like driving from North Dakota to Raleigh. So you can just imagine how much time, fuel and energy that wastes. Buy local and you’ll save those natural resources and probably money, too.
Watch Your Waste
Many times we eat more than we need, so why not pare down your portion and save leftovers? When you throw out even just half a hamburger, it goes to your local landfill where it rots and produces a powerful greenhouse gas called methane. Not good. Plus, it’s estimated that the amount of water it took to produce that half a hamburger is equivalent to you taking an hour-long shower.
According to the EPA, 97 percent of all the food we throw away ends up in landfills, and the USDA estimates that it accounts for 20 percent of the total weight of items going to landfills. Consider composting your food scraps, such as eggs shells, coffee grinds and other items from your holiday meal. Here’s a great guide to composting and whether it’s right for you.
Pick Healthy Recipes
You are what you eat, so eat healthy to be healthy this holiday season. Here’s one of our favorite healthy and easy recipes for sweet potatoes, a popular holiday food item.
Ready Your Reusables
While disposable plates and silverware may be tempting to use, it creates a lot of unnecessary waste — especially considering that you likely have reusable plates and silverware available in your kitchen. It’s the holidays, after all, so use your good tableware and toss it in the dishwasher for water-efficient cleaning after your holiday meal.
With these easy tips, you’re well on your way to a more sustainable holiday meal. Enjoy!