Americans are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day amid rising concerns about climate change and the future of our planet. 

Next to carbon emissions from flying or driving, food waste is the holiday’s biggest environmental hazard. Americans throw away 200 million pounds of turkey alone each Thanksgiving — a not-insignificant contribution to the $168 billion in food wasted in the U.S. each year. 

But a sustainable Thanksgiving is an achievable goal. A little planning can ensure that what is not consumed on the big day has a second life as a delicious leftover or farm fertilizer. 

Buy exact amounts of perishable items. Buying in bulk might appear to be a more fiscally sound decision, but not if the majority of those discounted tomatoes end up in the trash. If a recipe calls for exactly two cups of chopped tomatoes, find other uses for spare ingredients with Food52’s Thanksgiving recipe database, which can be searched by ingredient.

Buy ugly. Supermarkets regularly discard otherwise perfect vegetables because they are not aesthetically pleasing. Luckily, a new wave of food startups like Hungry Harvest, Imperfect Foods and Misfits Market are eliminating this unnecessary waste by scooping up those knotty potatoes and oval apples and selling them at a 30 to 50 percent discount to customers. 

Get fridge and freezer-friendly. Containers that are both oven and freezer safe are a must-have for Thanksgiving, especially for dishes being transported. For other leftovers, stock up on reusable, BPA-free containers, like these 100% recycled-plastic options from eco-friendly line Preserve. Skip the single-use plastic baggies in favor of reusable silicone ones from Stasher or use an alternative to plastic wrap, like these beeswax wrappers from Bee’s Wrap, and transform oddly-shaped serving dishes into storage with Lékué’s silicone stretch wraps.

Start composting. Even with effort to the contrary, waste still happens. When it does, a quick Google search can locate local composting programs. Full Circle’s Breeze Odor-Free Countertop Compost Collectors disguise smells while looking lovely on a countertop, and compostable trash bags from green companies like BioBag can keep compost together in the freezer until it’s ready for drop-off.

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