San Francisco Department of the Environment

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Holiday Feasting, Zero Wasting

Love your food and send less to landfill this holiday season. Here's some tips and tricks. 

1. Use seasonal ingredients.

Make your holiday feast zero waste

2. Visit a Farmer's Market. 

Visit one of the farmers markets in San Francisco to get produce at its freshest and to avoid extra packaging and waste in the delivery process. Use seasonal ingredients, and experiment with using the whole vegetable, from root to stalk.  

3. Store things well. 

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Prevent food waste at home: shopping and food storage tips.

4. Buy just enough, share with neighbors and friends. 

  • When making your shopping list, double check your cupboard so you don’t buy more than you need.
  • For those once-a-year kitchen items, such as a baster, roasting pan, or gravy boat, check to see if you can borrow them from a neighbor who isn’t hosting dinner.
  • When shopping, consider choosing products that come in recyclable packages; look for hard plastic or metal, and avoid soft plastic and tetra packs (the boxes often used for stock).
  • Before you leave the house, remember your reusable bags, maybe even some reusable produce bags, and, of course, your waste-conscious shopping list.

5. Make your own compost sign. 

Make a customized zero waste sign with the Signmaker >

6. Set up your bins for easy access.

  • While cooking, you're bound to have scraps that don't get used. To make sure they get into the green compost bin, consider using a larger receptacle than usual, or keeping a receptacle on the counter that you can empty easily. 
  • If you are feeling ambitious, hang on to your turkey carcass and vegetable scraps and make some stock before putting it all in the green bin for compost.
  • Remember to rinse any hard plastic or metal containers and recycle them.
  • Pack cleaned plastic film and plastic bags together and drop them off at your local San Francisco supermarket or hardware store. If you are going to recycle the plastic that your turkey is wrapped in, first wash and rinse it and let it dry.

7. Know what goes where.

Did you know that half of the material that currently gets put in the black bin (going directly to the landfill) could actually be composted or recycled? Let your guests know what goes where. 

How to recycle and compost >

Here's a holiday feast sorting cheat sheet:

  • Green bin: All food scraps including turkey meat, bones, “tofurky” scraps, and pumpkins. Soiled paper such as butcher paper and paper towels. And all those miscellaneous items that you only use at this time of year such as cooking string or twine, cheese cloth, tooth picks, wooden skewers, and anything labeled “compostable.”
  • Blue bin: Glass bottles, plastic and metal containers, and rinsed aluminum foil go in the blue bin. Take clean plastic film and plastic bags to a local supermarket for recycling.
  • Black bin: Hopefully nothing!

Check out RecycleWhere for where to recycle used cooking oil or just about anything!  Get recycling and composting tips, including a list of what goes in which bin.

8. Share your zero waste tips.

Share your zero waste tips with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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