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Season's greetings for Christmas eating
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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Sara Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.

If you are not feeling the Christmas spirit by now, you might better start looking for a visit from some Christmas spirits (I mean the ghostly kind, but for some folks, the bottled kind might be helpful, too) to get the Scrooge out of your system.

Christmas is a week away, so it is time to get your holiday groove on. If you are the chief cook in your family, plan now for ways to minimize the chaos — and the extraordinary waste that can accumulate — that often accompanies Christmas cooking and eating.

Food waste is enormous during the holidays. At least 28 billion pounds of edible food are wasted each year. Here are some minimal-effort recommendations to reduce your environmental footprint during the holidays while enjoying delicious meals and celebrations with your family or friends.

First, defrost your freezer and clean out your fridge before Christmas. They will work more efficiently and create more space to store leftover food, so that it doesn’t go to waste.

Second, plan now and try to rein in the urge to fix enough food for your entire neighborhood. Plan for what your family and guests can reasonably eat and enjoy.

I love leftovers, but if you realize that you have more than you and your guests can eat, don’t throw away the leftovers. Make arrangements to take them to a local charity for people that may not be as fortunate as you and your family. Just remember to call first to make appropriate arrangements with the group you have selected.

Also plan your shopping trips, too, so that you waste less gas and less sanity. And please use reusable shopping bags. Note: if you never clean/wash your shopping bags, please do so, because bacteria can accumulate in them over time.

Buy in bulk, if you have numerous meals or a large crowd coming. Instead of purchasing cans of soda, small bags of chip and serving-size baking supplies, stock up on bulk goods to reduce packaging waste.

Buy local or buy less. Produce bought locally means you will be supporting small suppliers and the local community, while minimizing your carbon footprint. When you consider the journey some of your foods travel to get to you, there is an enormous amount of wear and tear on the environment in shipping those foods to you.

Buy organic or less processed foods, if possible. Consider preparing less meats and adding more vegetables. I am not even remotely asking anyone to go vegan for the holidays, unless you want to do so. But meats actually require more processing that can affect the environment than vegetables. Chicken, pork and especially beef take a heavier toll on the environment than veggies.

I for one will have to have my Christmas meats, but maybe not quite as much.

Use the real stuff. Please use real plates, glasses and napkins for your holiday parties and meals. If there ever is a time when we can bring out the nice stuff, it should be the holidays. It is the one time when you have a bunch of extra dishwashers sitting around the table to help, so when they offer to help, say "Yes!" And if they do not graciously offer to help, just start assigning tasks.

Compost. Don’t forget to put the vegetable peelings, egg shells, etc., from your Christmas meals in your home compost bin. If you do not compost, some leftovers like coffee grounds can serve a further purpose. Save your grounds and once a week, spread them around soil around your plants. Your plants will love it.

If we all put one less cookie on Santa’s plate, we could reduce his snacking by 2 million pounds. He would be a much trimmer elf. And what about the rest of us? We would be a lot healthier and so will our environment. Make every day an environmentally kind day, but certainly make the holidays a "green" gift for our world.

Season’s greeting and happy eating!

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