11/24/2010 09:50 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Be Thankful, Not Wasteful

This Thanksgiving season, here's a suggestion I think we can all get behind: Be Thankful, Not Wasteful

Thanksgiving celebrates abundance. And we should absolutely enjoy the celebration. At the same time, I don't think we honor anyone or anything by wasting food. What then?

I'm calling on you to help ensure that your group strives to eliminate or minimize waste at your Thanksgiving feast. Here's how:

* Be sure to distribute the bounty. If you're the Thanksgiving host, either suggest that your guests bring along a few plastic containers of various sizes to help take home and leftovers or have a bunch on hand. There's no sense centralizing so much food that we'll struggle to put to use. This may feel a bit odd, but that slight discomfort pales in comparison to the disappointment from having to toss pounds of once-good food.

* Celebrate abundance, not excess. Don't take too much when you serve yourself. You can always go back for seconds! Keep in mind that the average Thanksgiving dinner today comes in, conservatively, at 2,057 calories. And remember, what's on our plates is seldom saved.

* Save those leftovers! And do it quickly. Not letting foods sit out too long in the bacteria danger zone (40-140 degrees F) will mean they'll be safe to eat and also last longer.

* Plan for your leftovers. Whether it's a turkey pot pie, turkey soup or turkey tacos, find some fun ideas that'll get you excited to use up your T-day remains.


Share Your Tips and Tricks

Help others reduce waste around Thanksgiving by sharing your insight. We've already received a few helpful tips, including Rachel's idea to make notes on the number of guests, the amount of food eaten and the amount remaining in order to help reduce waste next year.

I'm directing people to the Wasted Food Facebook page where we can compile a series of tips, successes and--should they occur--failures. These can be videos, photos or descriptions from inside people's Thanksgiving dinners. Feel free to post during the prep, the dinner itself, or the "aftermath." I want to prompt a real conversation here!

A few ideas:

• Videos describing what your friends/family are doing this year to reduce food waste. Or, if a video is too much, then a photo or description of the steps taken.
• A recipe or two for the best dishes made from Thanksgiving leftovers.
• Your preferred way to make the perfect leftover turkey sandwiches.
• An "unboxing" video of leftovers from the dinner you attended.


Spread the Word!

* Let your network know about the Be Thankful, Not Wasteful initiative. Share the link to this post and ask them to take action on their own. (And of course to post their results!)

* Do you blog? Please consider a post or video encouraging your readers to participate. Ask readers to join you in adding their voice to the discussion.

* Mention the initiative--and this fabulous new book--at your Thanksgiving celebration. I mean, I don't want you to start any dinner table arguments or anything, but...

* Solicit tips and tricks from your friends and family who aren't social media savvy and post them - I know I'll be asking my Grandma for some ideas.


Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we're all focused on food. Let's leverage that as a call-to-action to change our wasteful ways for the rest of the year. I think the day would be more meaningful that way. And remember--even incremental changes can have a massive effect if they're done by millions of Americans.