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How to cut down on food waste this Christmas

Here are some helpful tips to reduce food waste this Christmas - so you can eat, drink and be merry (and green). Photo by Chris Fleming.

The holiday season is a time for joyful gatherings, gift exchanges and mouth-watering feasts. But unfortunately, that usually means creating lots of garbage.


Here are a few helpful suggestions for reducing waste:

  • Be realistic – If you’re hosting a get-together, it’s easy to overestimate how much your guests will eat. Try to plan out realistic amounts, and shop accordingly.
  • Go small – Holidays often mean piling plates with more food than can be eaten, but simple tricks like using smaller plates or utensils can encourage smaller portions. And don’t worry…you can always go back for seconds.
  • Encourage self-serve – Let guests serve themselves, so they can decide how much (or how little) they want to eat.
  • Put a lid on it – Encourage dinner guests to bring their own reusable containers, so they can pack up some leftovers to take home.
  • After dinner – Turn your leftovers into a brand new meal. Vegetable scraps and turkey carcasses make great soups and stocks, and bread crusts or ends can be turned into homemade croutons. Just Google “Christmas leftovers” and you’ll find a long list of recipes.
  • Compost food scraps – Even if you don’t have access to curbside compost collection, you can use your own backyard composter or worm compost bin. According to the City, removing all compostables from Vancouver’s landfill would reduce greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 10,000 cars off the road.
  • Donate excess – Got unwanted boxes of chocolate from your Secret Santa? Local food banks or charities will gladly accept them, plus gift baskets, canned or dried foods.

A few key tips for shopping:

  • Plan ahead – Make a list and check it twice. If you know exactly what groceries you need, it’ll help prevent impulse buying or purchasing unnecessary quantities.
  • Don’t shop hungry – Shopping on an empty stomach is always sure to lead to over-buying.
  • Bag it – Bring your own reusable shopping bags to cut down on plastic waste.
  • Shop local – Buy local meat, produce and condiments. The less it has to travel, the easier it is on the environment.


For some last minute local gift ideas, check out The Vancouver Observer’s eco-friendly holiday gift guide

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