by Emily Mandaville

The holidays are expensive. And sometimes it seems like there’s just no way around it. Not only do the holidays often put extra stress on our wallets, they also take a toll on the planet! Between the months of November and December, the average American produces 20% more waste than usual. But this doesn’t have to be the case. In this article, we’ll talk about three ways that you can trim the fat on spending this Thanksgiving season. (Spoiler alert: it’s not just on the turkey!)

1. Consider some plant-based swaps in your meal

The average turkey can cost you around $30, if not more! While many people associate eating plant-based with higher costs, the truth is that vegetarian and vegan meal options can be much cheaper than choosing to go with a meaty meal. In addition, choosing to forgo a meat-based meal is also kinder to the planet, producing significantly fewer emissions. According to the USDA, the average 20-pound turkey produces roughly 64 pounds of CO2! Ingredients like beans, lentils, whole grains, and bulk produce can create well-rounded delicious meals that are easier on both your wallet and the planet!

2. Don’t buy more than you need

We all love Thanksgiving leftovers, but if we’re not careful, even the most delicious leftovers may end up going to waste in the fridge. Every Thanksgiving, up to three million pounds of food gets thrown away. It is often easy to overestimate how much food you need to buy. To help counter this, be intentional about the ingredients you’re buying and ensure that they will go to use. To make this even easier, consider shopping at your local zero-waste grocery stores so you can buy the exact amount of ingredients you need for your recipe. Perfect for your wallet and perfect for eliminating waste.

3. Borrow, don’t buy!

Is there a specific dish you’d like to make for Thanksgiving but find yourself missing a key piece of equipment? Whether it’s a blender, crockpot, or potato masher, the Sustainable Capitol Hill Tool Library has a variety of kitchen equipment available to check out. Instead of making that Amazon purchase for a big expensive turkey fryer, visit the Tool Library to borrow one! You’ll save yourself the money, as well as the packaging and transportation waste too.

With all the celebrating to be done over the holidays, it can be easy to lose track of all the extra waste we’re creating, but these three strategies can be a great start to reducing that waste.

Your community stores and the Tool Library are here to help you shop less, shop local, and shop smart this year! Happy cooking!

Top view of thanksgiving dinner table with vegetarian options