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With the holidays just around the corner, many people are gearing up for a season of scrumptious meals, parties, gift-giving, and merriment. Although these festivities spark fun and feasts, the holiday season can prove to be highly wasteful in many aspects. From single-use items such as disposable plates, cups, napkins, and wrapping paper, to leftover food and drinks, there are many easy ways to make your holiday season great for the planet too! 

Meal Prep

One of the most exciting parts of planning these celebrations is the careful curation of a perfect holiday meal. Keep these three easy tips in mind when playing chef for your guests:

Try out meat alternatives: Opt for dishes with more beans, lentils or mushrooms for protein instead of meat. One pound of mushrooms takes 1.8 gallons of water to grow versus 2,000 gallons of water needed to produce one pound of beef. There are many recipes developed to taste just like meat, for a fraction of the cost and environmental impact, and with longer expiration dates. Expand your palette and give them a try!

Eat seasonally and locally: Using fruits and vegetables that are in-season at your local farmer’s markets benefits both small business and local agriculture! Also, food that isn’t in-season requires longer travel time and storage, which increases the energy usage needed by that product. Check out the Seasonal Food Guide for a comprehensive list of produce available in your area for the holiday season.

Carry reusable bags: Did you know that a single plastic bag can take anywhere between 15-1,000 years to break down in a landfill? Hosting holiday soirees requires many trips to the grocery store, so keeping a few reusable bags in your car at all times will help save plastic and cut back on the unnecessary amount of grocery bags most people have stuffed in cabinets or trash bins. Not to mention that reusable bags are much stronger than the flimsy plastic bags, which equals less trips back and forth to your car to bring all your groceries inside!

When Cooking

Your shopping is finished, congratulations! Now it’s time for the main event: cooking and preparing to have your loved ones over. When cooking, be sure to keep these green tips in mind!

Use eco-friendly cookware: Pots and pans made with ceramic-based nonstick technology take less time to heat the surface to the proper temperature! The ceramic coatings maintain a steady high temperature so they do not release toxins or fumes. Brands like Cuisinart or GreenPan make high quality cookware that is sustainably produced. ! Check out this guide to eco-friendly cookware for anyone from beginners to professionals. 

Turn down your thermostat while you cook: The heat from your oven and/or stove, along with the body heat from your guests will keep your house naturally warm and cozy during your holiday event! This will save energy and money on your next power bill.

After You Cook

After the celebrations have ended, be mindful of garbage and leftover food. Instead of hastily cleaning up, take time to consider these helpful tips to stretch your dollar and efforts even further! 

Don’t throw away uneaten food: Americans waste on average 5 million pounds of food between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Instead of throwing away uneaten food or leftovers, research organizations that can benefit from food donations, such as a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or food drive.  If you don’t have a large number of leftovers to spare, try repurposing the leftovers to create a new dish to eat or compost your scraps!

If your guests are taking leftovers home with them, ask them beforehand to bring their own reusable containers to eliminate the use of single-use items such as plastic bags. If you plan to use your own reusable items to package your leftovers, use reusable wraps or glass and silicon containers! This will reduce food and single-use item waste.

If you have a dishwasher, use it! A lot of guests in your home means a lot of dishes to clean. Not only will using your dishwasher save time during your clean-up, but it also means using 37% less water than if you were to wash the dishes by hand.

Last but not least, reduce your tailpipe emissions from your holiday travel with 7-Eleven RENEW! With every gallon pumped through RENEW, you are offsetting your emissions by up to 30%! Stay green while you drive this holiday season.