Did you take the time after Thanksgiving this year to figure out what you were going to do with leftovers? Or the pumpkins you’ve carved for Halloween? As we have Christmas coming around the corner, it’s worthwhile to think about ways we could re-right past wrongs by reducing the amount of food we waste and keep that bin pile small!
The shocking statistic here is that about 58% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted, and 32% of this is food that can be rescued to feed communities across Canada. Now I know that at such a large scale, it’s hard to understand the impact of one person or one food service operator, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s people like us that truly understands not only how much we can help the planet but also how much money we can save doing it, and eventually the majority will hop on the bandwagon. Just keep spreading the word!
Whether it’s food waste prevention for hotels, restaurants, or yourself, I scoured the internet to answers some questions that you may be having during the holiday season (or for everyday purposes), and here’s my top 7 methods of reducing organic and food waste during Christmas:
1. Rethink Your Christmas Tree
Have you ever bought a living Christmas tree? It gets replanted and can be delivered for free to your home or restaurant in Metro Vancouver with Evergrow. And if you choose a sustainable cut tree, no need to worry about that tree once Christmas is over. There are programs that take them and recycle them! City Green Bin service has a curbside residential collection starting from Saturday (January 9) and Sunday (January 10) so you won’t have to worry about your tree decomposing in a dump. Just make sure it’s just the tree and all ornaments/decorations are taken off. Check out this link for more information.
2. Don't Throw Away Those Bones and Veg
As a restauranteur or hotel manager, this is probably a key proponent in your arsenal for reducing food waste in the kitchen. But for the laymen and women out there, maybe you know this, maybe you don’t. Roasted turkey bones and meat make one of the best stocks ever. Make sure you keep those bones and left over meats to make a mean turkey stock that you can keep in your freezer for up to 6-8 months. Not only that but use any leftover vegetables and peels to bump up the flavor in that stock!
3. Mind Your Own Beeswax
According to Zero Waste Canada, total waste can increase up to more than 25% during the holiday season, thanks partly to the purchase of about 3,000 tonnes of foil. Now obviously my job here is to present you with a simple solution so here it is. There’s a little thing called beeswax food wraps (or other reusable food wraps) that can help cover your food. Skip out on the foil this year and get some reusable food wraps. It is breathable and allows food to stay fresh for longer, reducing food wastage. And that’s less trash for you too!
Now I know for commercial kitchens, it’s hard to get your hand on giant sheets up beeswax wraps, and that’s okay as long as you’re using reusable containers to prevent excess waste in your kitchens.
4. (Re)Think Your Leftovers
Be creative or give it away. Food waste prevention is a way to get you to think creatively and to save money, so get creative! There are plenty of recipes out there that utilize surplus food and all of it can be recreated into something totally different than your old turkey, mash, and cranberry sauce leftover sandwich (Check out our blog to get fresh inspiration!).
When you invite friends and family for dinner, encourage them to bring reusable tupperware to take any leftovers that you know you won’t be able to finish after le grand feast. Invite a friend or someone you know who might not be seeing family for Christmas. Since we know it’s been a hard time traveling internationally, it would mean a lot for them to feel welcomed to a nice, warm family gathering (I’m taking any invites right now).
5. Donate Any Leftover Un-perishables
Overestimated how much food you need to make? Get any leftover cans of pumpkin pie filling or cranberry sauce and donate it! Though we know we should all be donating to shelters throughout the year, it’s just a little bit of effort to feed people that need it more than we do. And I don’t blame you. Maybe you just aren’t too fond of leftovers. But that’s not a cop-out to be throwing away perfectly good food. Another thing you could do is to prepare leftover plates and go out to give it to the homeless or people in need of a nice warm meal. This is the two-birds-one-stone method:
1. Prevent food waste in kitchens and homes
2. An act of kindness for those in need.
6. Use Food Scraps to Create Upcycled Decorations
Oranges are not only one of the main colours of the Rethink2gether’s brand, but it’s also a delicious fruit that’s in season and used to be given only at Christmas! If you ever buy oranges, find ways to use the peels to create natural decorations.
One amazing craft with oranges is that you can make your own natural candles! You just need a cookie cutter and you are ready to make unique decorations that will make your home even more festive!
7. Compost and Recycle
If you HAVE TO throw away food – compost compost compost! Organics that end up in landfills will create potent greenhouse gasses and increase the negative impact on our Earth. Along with any Christmas gift wrappings, just recycle them! Or save them for the next time you wrap presents. Having separate bins for trash, recycle, and compost can really help you make conscious decisions, especially in the hospitality industry.
There are many little actions you can take to make the main colour of Christmas green. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that this article has helped you rethink the way you approach the holidays and your everyday life!
And if you want to get more inspiration, check out our blog where we will be posting Zero Food Waste recipes.