Whether you are celebrating Christmas or not, during the Christmas Holidays, the food waste estimated is way higher than on other days. Getting in the Christmas spirit for many means consuming more. The money spent on food, snacks, and drinks rises continuously during the Holidays (Ackers, n.d.). This results in more leftovers and as a consequence, more food waste:
“[O]ver four million Christmas dinners are thrown away every year [in the UK alone]– that’s equivalent to 263,000 turkeys, 7.5 million mince pies, 740,000 portions of Christmas pudding and 11.3 million roast potatoes.” (Strauss, n.d.)
Each household has a waste increase of 25% during the holidays, according to the EPA. Pete Pearson rightly enunciates that we not only throw away the food but with it the energy, land, and water needed to plant and generate. Around 30 to 40 percent of the generated food is never even seen on the dinner table (Pearson, n.d.). The food waste ends up in landfills. One of the gases produced, while the food rots, is methane. In addition to the economic and social consequences of food waste, the environmental aspect has a huge impact as well. Six to eight percent of the greenhouse gas emissions we humans produce could be eliminated just by stopping the food waste (EPA, n.d.). The importance of reducing food waste should therefore be obvious. Let’s try to tackle food waste during a period when even more food waste than usual is produced: The Christmas Holidays.
Simple, easy ways to reduce food waste
If you are eating out, take the leftovers with you. The restaurant is obligated to throw them out and the food was too heavenly to end up in the bin, right?
How many people will have to be cooked for? Do you need that many snacks when people are probably already stuffed with your delicious dinner?
Don’t be convinced by cheap deals and offers you cannot eat. Even if the offer is tempting, you won’t be eating three pies.
Communicate! In today’s society, we often forget or don’t know how to talk to each other anymore. Start on the holidays. Ask your guest what they will bring or ask them not to bring anything.
Storage is the key. Freeze and cool whatever you can. Keep your leftovers fresh. You have a huge fridge outside (it is winter after all), use it!
Accept the leftover challenge! Vegetables, leftover meat, and other food have not been eaten? Challenge accepted! Let’s get creative and use your leftovers for new delicious dishes. Still unsure what to cook? Check out our website for recipes using leftovers.
Get creative! I know that we have just discussed this but let’s enunciate again that making the most out of leftovers can be fun. Play the creative reuse game with the guests who stay for the holidays. There is nothing that you cannot reuse, even wine can be frozen, turned into jelly or mulled wine, or used for cooking leftover goulash (Olorunshola, 2020).
Compost what you cannot cook. This would be the best time to start composting. Are you looking for gifts or what to wish for? Perfect timing, we got you. We wrote a book about vermicomposting. If you have too many scraps, you can also freeze them and use them to feed the worms later when running low on scrap supply.
Encourage your guests to take leftovers with them. If you tried reducing food waste but still have more leftovers than you and your loved ones could ever eat or take home, consider donating the leftovers to charities that concern themselves with reusing leftovers for a greater cause and people in need.
Let your guests eat as much as they like. Serving standardized portions of food can very likely cause food leftovers and therefore food waste. Let your guests decide on their own how much they want to eat. This is a two-in-one deal: They are not hungry afterward and you have fewer leftovers (Respect Food, 2019).
More ways to decrease your environmental footprint this season.
In addition to the enormous amount of food waste generated on Christmas, the packaging has a huge impact on the environment as well. If you plan on giving presents, consider trying to reduce your packaging to a minimum. Maybe set yourself the challenge to gift presents with zero waste. This gives you a fun challenge and helps to reduce the impact on the environment.
Personalized presents are better anyway, right? Maybe try self-made ginger shots and gift them in pretty glass bottles that people can even reuse again. They are easy to make, very healthy and you can enjoy watching the faces of your loved ones when they taste the spice of ginger and turmeric.
Old newspapers can easily replace wrapping paper. You can even search for articles that will be fun or interesting to read. Also, if we are on it: A recent survey in Britain showed that every second person received an unwanted present and often even more than one (Johnson, 2021).
For this year, keeping that in mind, when you are having trouble with coming up with an idea, try to think of a present that doesn’t harm the environment and is genuinely wanted or needed. Maybe offer help with babysitting or plan a special day with your loved ones. Get creative and don’t just buy something so it’s bought. More and more people agree on fewer presents or even none at all.
To conclude, let’s enjoy the moments consciously. Let’s put more focus on our families and loved ones than consumption and overconsumption. Plan ahead with presents and food and help protect our planet. Being informed is the first step to change. The second step is acting accordingly. The first step is done, now let’s act!
All content in this article is for informational purposes only. Sapient Social & Environmental Enterprises, and Food Circle, as its subsidiary, do not intend to promote holidays of any religion, sub-religion, or faith via this article.
Ackers, K. (n.d.). Christmas Food Waste - Are You Part Of The Problem? Eco & Beyond. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.ecoandbeyond.co/articles/christmas-food-waste/
EPA. (n.d.). Fight climate change by preventing food waste. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/fight-climate-change-by-preventing-food-waste
Johnson, R. (2021, October 4). Unwanted gifts: how many of us get Christmas presents we don't like? Finder.com. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.finder.com/uk/unwanted-gifts
Olorunshola, Y. (2020, December 21). 21 Delicious Recipes for Reducing Food Waste This Holiday Season. Global Citizen. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.globalcitizen.org/de/content/recipes-christmas-boxing-day-leftover-food-waste/
Pearson, P. (n.d.). How to reduce food waste this holiday season. World Wildlife Fund. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/how-to-reduce-food-waste-this-holiday-season
Respect Food. (2019, December 9). How Much Food Goes to Waste During Christmas, and How Can We Prevent It? – Respect Food. GRUNDIG | Respect Food. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.respectfood.com/article/how-much-food-goes-to-waste-during-christmas-and-how-can-we-prevent-it/
Strauss, R. (n.d.). Alarming Christmas Waste Statistics and How you Can Have a Zero Waste Christmas. Zero Waste Week. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.zerowasteweek.co.uk/zero-waste-christmas/