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Your Guide to Planning a More Sustainable Holiday Meal

Whichever holiday you celebrate, this year’s festivities are likely to look different from years past. While you may not have the larger family and friend gatherings we’ve become accustomed to, you can still practice sustainability when it comes to holiday meals.

Here’s what to know and do to spruce up your sustainable festive entertaining:

  • Decorating? Check out our Green Holiday Decorating Tips & Tricks that won’t get your tinsel in a tangle
  • Exchanging Gifts? Get Your Guide to Green Holiday Gifting
  • Avoid single-use items. Use durable items on your table you can reuse over and over. Don’t hesitate to mix and match your table settings to set a holiday table that pops. It’s OK if settings don’t match. Color is part of the magic of the season.
  • Use cloth napkins. Fabric napkins not only look better, they’re also washable, reusable, and can be matched to your table’s theme.
  • Bring the outdoors inside. Embrace nature by using fresh greens, berries, and pinecones, all items that are compostable when the holidays are over.
  • Reuse cut greenery. You can use boughs from fresh-cut trees to create wreaths, mantle displays, or centerpieces. Whatever you do, these aren’t trash. They’re compostable.
  • Use upcycled decorations – You can even craft these yourself (or with you kids!). Ornaments and decorations can be made from strips of newspapers, magazines, fabric, greenery, and more.
  • Avoid food waste. Consider purchasing pre-cut produce or asking that produce be sliced while you’re at the store. There, they can cut produce down to specific sizes for you, ensuring you avoid overbuying and wasting excess. Remember, your guest list may be much shorter than in the past.
  • Rethink leftovers. Who wants to cook after a holiday party or get together? Leftovers can be a lifesaver during the holidays. Ever had mashed potato waffles with gravy? We have it on good authority that they’re delicious.
  • Set out your recycling bin during meals. Don’t forget to make it easy for family members to recycle. Simply place your recycling bin next to the trash can. Before placing your items in the recycling cart, make sure that recyclables are empty and dry — so make sure that eggnog carton is empty.
  • Masks, wipes, and gloves aren’t recyclable. Please properly and safely dispose of masks, wipes, and gloves. While a reusable face mask may be a more sustainable choice, please do not recycle the disposable items.
  • Check your recycling day. Your local, friendly recycling center staff are also celebrating the holidays. The season may alter the days your city picks up your recycling cart. Check your local recycling program’s website to be certain you’re putting your cart out on the right day.

According to Stanford University, Americans waste 25% more between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, more than any other time of year. That extra waste will translate to 25 million tons of garbage. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Taking the time to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink – it can be your gift to the planet this holiday season.

For more tricks, tips, and resources to help you recycle more, better this holiday season and all year long, visit recyclingpartnership.org.