Leftovers? What to do with them.

The food has been eaten, the last drop of wine has been poured, and the gifts have all been unwrapped. So you may ask, “What do I do with all the leftovers cluttering my house? Throw it all on the trash?” Wrong.

Before you go all lazy on me and decide it is just easier to throw it all away and forget about it, sit back and think about all of the gifts, the boxes they came in, the wrapping paper that covered them, the holiday cards, the letters, the Christmas Trees, the candy wrappers, the wine bottles, the extra food, etc.

According to Use Less Stuff (ULS), Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the holidays than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about one million extra tons per week. Much of the 28 billion pounds of edible food thrown away each year is wasted during the holiday season. It breaks my heart to think of all the wasted food, when there are families that have none.

Most people make way too much food and on top of that, guests usually bring more food, so your house is just one big buffet. And let’s be honest most of the food is not consumed and ends up going to waste. How about this year, you try and not let it all get tossed in the garbage.

  • If turkey was your food of choice this year, making a broth and transforming it into a nice is soup is one of the best way to use all that you can from the bird to avoid waste. If there are some bits and pieces left from the bird that are edible- add it to your soup or broth.
  • Have too much turkey and there is not way you will be able to eat that many sandwiches over the next couple of days? Freeze it, and save it for later.
  • Do you have mounds of mashed potatoes, carrots and random veggies left and are scratching your head wondering what to do? Make a nice creamy potatoes soup. Add water or nut milk, spices and voila! I know I am repeating myself, but the freezer really is your friend.
  • I am sure you have holiday treats covering every surface and, if you are like me, don’t want it to go to waste, but at the same time is not interested in gaining those extra pounds. Freeze, freeze, freeze it all!
  • If there really is too much food that you will never eat, give it away to someone that will.
  • The last alternative is to compost as much as you can to divert all that waste from a landfill. At least this way the waste won’t just be sitting somewhere, only to create methane gas polluting the atmosphere.

I am sure you have envelopes, wrapping paper, boxes, gift bags etc. just sitting around. The first option is to try and find another use for the leftovers, then compost what you can, and finally recycle.

  • Keep the gift bags and reuse them next year or even for other occasions a gift might be given. So, someone gets a Santa gift bag for their birthday. It will be a nice conversation starter.
  • Reuse envelopes that have not been written on for other occasions.
  • Use random pieces of paper, tin cans or wine corks for future crafts for the kids or even for some fun adult projects. After the crafts are ready to be trashed, recycle it all instead.
  • Boxes can make for great forts for the kids. Add some blankets and let the fun begin.
  • There are zillions of uses for glass jars or even plastic containers; I personally reuse all my glass jars for food storage instead of buying glassware. On a side note, when it comes to plastic, just remember it is not a good idea to reheat food in them because chemicals can be leached out into the food while heated. It is better just to use them for storage.
  • Collect all your wine corks and ship them off to ReCork or Yemme & Hart to either be transformed into a nice floor or  simply recycled.
  • If you received a gift you know will end up in a closet indefinitely or worst, sit in a landfill, consider regifting it to someone that you know would enjoy it. I know some people look down on regifting, but if you are not going to use it, I am sure there is someone that will.
  • Don’t forget about that tree in the living room. Most cities offer a recycling program for Christmas trees, and please seriously considering taking part. Or compost it.
  • Did you know paper, tissue paper, Kleenex, and paper towels can all be composted?
  • Sign-up for Terracycle and send them all your candy and chocolate wrappers, and chip bags to be upcycled into purses, bags, pencil cases, lunch bags etc,

There are so many creative and fun ways to limit the amount of waste that is created over the holidays and really all year long. Try and think outside of the wine bottle and let your creative juices flow

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