Thanksgiving food waste harmful to the environment

NEW YORK (PIX11) — ‘Tis the season to be hardy … too hardy the environmentalists tell us. When it comes to the holiday season, we all tend to over indulge and ultimately leave leftovers on our plate. The thrown out food is being dumped into landfills where it is creating havoc to our environment.

“The basic problem is people cook too much for the guests they have,” said David Hurd, director of the GrowNYC food waste program.

It is estimated that 305 million pounds of food from Thanksgiving meals alone will be thrown out this year, most of it from turkey leftovers. Environmental advocate Matt Berulli claims “when we throw food in the garbage, it absolutely is hurting the environment.”

One-third of all the garbage in New York comes from food waste that is dumped in landfills where it is converted to harmful gasses. 

“That food will produce methane, and that methane is 85% worse than [carbon dioxide]. So that’s lighter fluid on the climate change fire,” Berulli said.

“Rather than converting those scraps in landfill, we can convert them into a environmentally beneficial soil nutrient,” Hurd said.

That is being accomplished by a process called composting. “By composting food scraps, you are creating a valuable soil nutrient that is valuable to farmers,” Hurd notes.

GrowNYC, a non-profit environmental group, offers a compost program with some 200 sites throughout New York City where you can drop off your leftover food. Berulli has developed a kitchen appliance, Lomi, that allows you to do the composting at home. 

“Lomi takes food waste and turns it into earth, so it’s a natural fertilizer you can add to your plant, sprinkle and add to your garden,” Berulli said. “The easiest thing you can do to help the plant is to just throw out less food.”

As you prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, it’s also a good time to think about serving less. Berulli offers a few tips for cutting down on all that waste.

“One, buy less food. Two, limit what guests bring. Three, be creative with the scraps. Four, donate leftovers to charity. And five, compost your food,” Berulli said.

The folks who come up with the statistics tell us Americans throw out about 103 pounds of food each year, or what they calculate to be about $53 worth of food each week.

GrowNYC invites New Yorkers to drop off wasted food for composting at any of its 200 sites in all five boroughs. Check out the locations and operating days and hours on the DSNY website.

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