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According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, getting food onto Americans’ plates accounts for 80 percent of the country’s fresh water consumption, 50 percent of American land use and 10 percent of the total United States energy budget. Although the system as a whole is not perfect, food is a necessity for human life and as such, it makes sense that we allocate substantial resources to its production and distribution. However, Americans throw away 40 percent of that food each year!

This Thanksgiving, let’s make sure none of the precious food at our homes goes to waste. Here are a few easy tips you can use to limit food waste and make sure your post-holiday activities are sustainable as well:

  • To limit the amount of food left behind on your plate at the end of the meal, start with small portions and go back for seconds if necessary.

I know, all that food looks SO good, but you don’t need to take heaping portions right away. Try taking less than you think you will eat; then once you clean your plate, take a little more. It’s much easier to save leftovers from the table than scraps from people’s plates.

  • Give away leftovers the next day, rather than throw them out.

Or even better, find a way to “recycle” them. Check out this series of articles for great ideas on how to make the most of your Thanksgiving leftovers: Making the Most of Thanksgiving Leftovers- Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

  • Clean green by using rags instead of disposable items, using water sparingly while serving it to guests and washing dishes, and choosing environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

Thanksgiving is an inevitably messy holiday. There usually ends up being food and dishes everywhere. So this year, ditch the paper towels and chemical cleaner, and use reusable rags and environmentally-friendly cleaning products.

  • And just maybe … skip black Friday?!

Thanksgiving is a day to be with family, and most Black Friday sales now begin on Thanksgiving. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to rush around right after you eat dinner, and just take a nap and visit with people? Maybe skip the Thanksgiving and Black Friday sales this year and opt for a day of outdoor time or a day of playing board games with your families.