Everyday Ethical Living: The Sustainable Thanksgiving Host

TO THE MARKET’s “Everyday Ethical Living” is a blog series about how consumers and businesses can help shape social change through innovative commerce, ethical production, and sustainable choices.
Image via <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.sustyparty.com/blogs" target="_blank">Susty Party Blog</a>
Image via Susty Party Blog

By Rachel Spera

One of my favorite holidays is just a day away – Thanksgiving. Mostly because it kicks off the Holiday season, but also because I will be flying back to Los Angeles to spend Thanksgiving with my family and friends, surrounded by the people I am most thankful for. While Thanksgiving is filled with the food of our dreams, AKA the ultimate cheat day, it can be one of the most wasteful days of the year. Think of the endless plates, utensils, Tupperware, and food waste. This waste can be a serious detriment to our environment. Luckily, innovative businesses are popping up to support our love of holiday gatherings and comfort food all the while helping to prevent environmental damage.

My family is hosting Thanksgiving this year. I am in charge of ensuring a successful event with sustainable materials so we can have our cake and literally eat it too without causing any unnecessary harm to the environment. Being less wasteful this Thanksgiving requires two steps: 1. Sustainable materials to serve and package your food, and 2. Ensure less food waste.

Step 1: Sustainable Tableware

Image via <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.sustyparty.com/blogs/news/10439389-im-thankful" target="_blank">Susty Party Blo
Image via Susty Party Blog

Susty Party is the perfect company that sells the perfect products for a sustainable, yet fun dinner party. Susty Party was founded by two women in their 20s, Emily Doubilet and Jessica Holsey. You may recognize these incredible entrepreneurs from Shark Tank. Both Emily and Jessica were recognized for their innovative solution to party waste in Forbes’ 2014 “30 under 30.” Susty Party has a wide variety of party supplies (plates, bowls, cups, straws, cutlery, tablecloths, napkins, garbage bags, paper towels), all of which are made of renewable, recycled or sustainably harvested materials. Their products are plastic-free and verified biodegradable in commercial compost. To top it off, their products are fun--not your drab tan biodegradable cardboard plate--but colorful and playful patterns, which are the perfect addition to your dinner party.

I don’t know about you, but these are some ladies I would like to party with!

Step 2: Less Food Waste

Image via <a rel="nofollow" href="https://www.foodrecoverynetwork.org/" target="_blank">Food Recovery Network</a>
Image via Food Recovery Network

Now for food waste, a bit heavier of a topic than your table accessories, but bear with me – it’s important! Believe it or not, food waste is incredibly imperative to the restoration of our environment. An estimated 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year, and a lot of that waste comes from wealthier nations such as the United States where consumers are often not finishing their plates. This Thanksgiving, it is projected that there will be well over $200 million worth of uneaten turkey – and that’s just the turkey. It requires full participation to dwindle that number back down to $0, but every person and effort counts!

Food waste contributes to 6.7% of the greenhouse gas emitted. That is a staggering number, particularly when you see that all of India produces less greenhouse gas than food waste at 6.4%! While addressing the waste may seem daunting, we have to start somewhere – start where you are with what you have, and you too can contribute to making a difference. So, this Thanksgiving, consider some of the following options to reduce your food waste.

Image Courtesy of Food Recovery Network

  1. Consider portion control and prepare for the people you are feeding, and no more.
  2. If you find yourself with too much food to finish on your own and tempted to just throw it all away, try composting your leftovers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and replenish your soil.
  3. If composting seems too time intensive for you – freeze your food for a later date!
  4. Look up your local food bank, and give your leftovers to those who need it!
  5. Seek new recipes to transform your Thanksgiving meal, and extend the ultimate cheat day through the weekend.

These are just a few small steps you can take to have a big impact!

Investing in products and supporting innovative, food-industry leaders, while limiting your food waste, can help ensure a better party, and a world that will see many more Thanksgivings!

Rachel Spera is a resident sustainable and ethical living connoisseur and a writer for TO THE MARKET’s “Everyday Ethical Living” blog series. She is originally from Los Angeles and currently resides in Washington, DC. She is pursuing her MBA at Arizona State University. Despite balancing both work and school, Rachel makes sure to carve out time to explore DC’s expanding culinary scene as well as frequent a variety of fitness and health classes in the nation’s capital.
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