At Christmas as we all know, we’re meant to be kinder. Not only to each other, but also to the environment!
At this time of festivities, big lunches and presents, it is all too easy to increase the amount of waste we produce or pay less attention to recycling.
Don’t believe it? According to a recent study, more than 500,000 tonnes of food are thrown away during the Christmas holidays in Italy, increasing the level of pollution as a result. But it is not only us Italians who behave this way: in the United Kingdom, waste is calculated at around £1 billion for Christmas and Boxing Day alone, in the United States, food thrown away (especially by supermarkets) increases by 25% in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.
In this case, as in so many others, the first push must come from below: from us. How can we avoid waste during our Christmas lunch, Christmas Eve dinner or New Year’s Eve party? Here are some tips.
Choose your menu in advance and make a careful shopping list so that you only buy what you need. Consider carefully the people you will be hosting: not only their number, but also their age.
Avoid complicated menus
Let’s face it: do we really need five starters, three first courses and two main courses? Probably not. Every year there is always someone who crashes out before the main course, having already eaten too much. Choose a menu that will satisfy your guests, but without overdoing it.
Favour local produce
Ships, planes, trucks, refrigerated vans: so much food has to cross the globe to reach our tables, producing enormous amounts of CO2. When shopping, favour local products: it will be a way to reduce your environmental impact and enhance local food and wine traditions at the same time.
Choose loose ingredients
Greengrocers, butchers, fishmongers: when you can, go for products that do not use bulky or excessive packaging, choose unpackaged products wherever possible. You may spend a few extra minutes cutting and washing fruit and vegetables, but you will help limit your carbon footprint.
Invest in airtight containers
Even with the best planning, it’s possible that something will get left behind on the table after Christmas lunch. All you have to do, however, is store it carefully in the fridge or (if possible) freezer. What’s left over today could be tomorrow’s dinner!
Think about how to recycle leftovers in advance
Do you have the ingredients list, the menu and a vague idea of how much your diners will eat? If you already assume that there will be something left over, think about how you can reuse surplus food or raw materials in future recipes. Leftover meat can be turned into meatballs, cooked vegetables into the filling of a lasagna and fish into the ingredient for a big salad. (We, for example, made a cheesecake with torroncini!).
There are many ways to make Christmas lunch more sustainable and it depends a lot on our habits. The important thing is to start and do our small part day after day!
Foto cover FamVelt | iStock